First Autocross

Disclosure: I’m writing this post after attending several events, but the post is dated at the time of my first event.  I plan to have some other events and info logged later.  This may be a bit of a series.

I had heard of Autocross (Solo II as it was known by the SCCA) for a while and wanted to try it out.  This was something that I tried to read up on and know all of the process from start to finish before going.  I will give this advice to anyone that is thinking the same thing:  STOP!  Just read the basics of what you need to do for your region/club and go to an event.  You will figure it all out once you’re there and people are generally really helpful.  If you are not sure what autocross is, just google it and you’ll quickly see what it’s about.  That said, here are some of my tips and hints to help you out for your first time.

I downloaded the PDF of the SCCA Solo II handbook for 2005 to research the class that I should be in.  A friend from the forum helped me out and pushed me to definitely go to an event.  He suggested we go into DP (D Prepared) because of a brace that’s on the tunnel of the underside of the car.  This is the Corky’s Breast Plate.  Anyway, without that brace and no other mods, the MR2 Spyder goes into CS (C Stock).  Then I found my local Autocross club.  In my area, it was Equipe Rapide Sports Car Club (ERSCC for short).  They had an online pre-registration as well as walk-up registration the day of the event.  I did the online pre-registration since I wanted to have as few distractions as possible.

On the day of the event, I cleaned out my car completely and drove Hialeah Park.  I met my friend at the Racetrack gas station (Fitting, right?) and aired up our tires to about 38 or 40psi (You want your tire pressure higher than normal for this type of driving on regular tires).  And we drove to the event via convoy.  Once there, we parked in the paddock (that’s the regular area where you park when your car is not racing or staged to be racing).  I removed my floor mats and other things from the glove box, frunk, and compartment behind the seats.

All cleaned up, we went to the registration table.  I had my print out of my pre-registration and all was good.  They made sure I had a valid driver’s license and then told me to take my car to tech inspection.  Tech inspection is where they make sure your battery is tied down and lug nuts are secure.  They also make sure you don’t have anything loose in your car that could fly around.  It was at this time that I had to borrow a helmet.  The club had many loaner helmets.  So I left my license with the guy at tech and got a loaner helmet.  Then I drove back to the paddock where my pile of stuff was so I could await being called for my run group.

Before the event starts, I got to walk the track and see what turns and obstacles lay ahead of me.  Most of this was just good practice for looking at things and knowing what the cones mean based on how they’re positioned.  We ran in heats and you worked when your not running.  so I worked first.  This let me watch some of the other cars go through and see sort of how they were doing and see where there might be some problems.  That was kinda helpful, but I was still a noob.  Then, we switched out and it was my turn to run.  I went back to get my car from the paddock and drove it to grid.  Grid is where your car is staged while you are waiting for your turn to go to the start line.

Once at the start, I was ready and focused.  I was given the signal to go and I took off!  I felt like I was seriously flying through the course.  I didn’t hit any cones, made it through all the obstacles and when I crossed the finish, I had an ear to ear grin that would not leave my face for a solid 5 or 10 minutes.  no joke.  It was incredible!  I would later have 3 more runs.  each run saw a faster time than the one before it.  Since I was so new, I ended up shaving over 7 seconds off of my first run with my 4th run.  I was hooked after this.  Once all of my runs were over, I packed up the car and waited for the official results to post.  I did pretty good overall, but I was way behind the people that had done it before.  Still, I was very proud of my times and what I had done.

The whole drive home, I just kept thinking about the next event and when was it going to be.  And also, where can I buy a good helmet for not a lot of money.

Here is a pic of me at the event:

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