A timed contest for automobile drivers designed to test driving skill.
An autocross is typically held in a very large parking lot or on an inactive airstrip. Obstacles are generally orange pylons (cones), and you drive through the course in sequence and avoid hitting the cones. If you hit a cone, you are assessed a time penalty (2 seconds added to you time). Because you are not running door-to-door with another car, the focus is on your driving skill against the clock.
Your car is classed with similar cars based on it's potential and/or modifications. Modifications are not necessary, in fact, the "stock" classes are often the most popular. Your car, including suspension and tires, should be in good running condition and a helmet is required (loaner helmets are available).
Event Chair: Geoff Craig and Kate Ritter
Regional Executive: Chris Paveglio
Also visit MyAutoEvents.com for event information
What to expect at an Autocross
During the day you will of course get to drive your car through the course, usually 3-4 times. Most regions give 4 runs per heat. There may be a possibility of having non-competition ("fun runs") if the event finishes early. You'll also be required to help work, either at a corner, the registration table, the grid, timing truck,or other position. If you are new to the sport you'll be teamed up with some veterans, so don't fret what position you work. You'll also have ample opportunity to get to know other drivers, hang out with friends, ask questions to other competitors, compare cars, swap stories, and have a fun day outside!
Participants should bring their valid driver's license. Those under 18 will need to obtain a form from event officials with a parent's signature indicating consent.
At registration you will choose or be assigned a car number. It is helpful to know your car's class, although other participants may be able to help you class your car. You must indicate your car number and class on your car so that event officials can read it from a distance. You will also be assigned a 'work assignment.' Course working is the most common work assignment, because it takes many people to keep the course ready for the cars.
After registration, your car will need to pass a brief technical inspection. The tech inspector will visually check over your car for any loose suspension items, excessively worn tires, leaking fluids, loose interior items, or other potential hazards. The tech inspector will also check your safety equipment: the car should have seat belts, and you will be needing a helmet. Loaner helmets are often available.
Before you run, make it a point to walk the course, preferably several times. In an autocross, you do not get a practice run, so the more familiar you are with the course, the better your initial run will be. You will get three runs, sometimes more. Generally the number of runs is announced at the driver's meeting before the event begins.
No one at an autocross is getting paid to do their job or be there, so every event requires that everyone help to keep things happening. We require that if you are there to drive, then you will take a turn working or doing some task during the day. It's only fair, as there are a lot of folks that spend a lot of their time to get an autocross scheduled and setup and running, and none of it is ever paid by any one or any company. (If we were paid, we'd be doing this 7 days a week!)
Generally, when you register at the event, you will be asked or assigned to work at one of several stations during one of the heats you aren't driving: on a corner (flagging cars, fixing downed cones), at the registration desk, in the timing/scoring truck, announcing, watch the start line, coordinate cars in the grid, teching cars, etc. We also need help with morning setup or after-event take-down. If you are an earlybird, help with setup, as it will get the event started sooner. If you arrive later, help put things back in the truck (and of course get your trophy!).
Without the help of everyone there, our autocross could come to a standstill. Even if you're at your first event, ask what you can do to help and someone will gladly explain how the event works and make sure you feel welcome.
Driving the Course
There are many schools of thought over what to do for your first run. However, the most important thing for a novice to do is to try not to get lost. The course moves a lot faster in a car than it does at walking speed, so try to keep yourself prepared by looking ahead as far as possible. On your subsequent runs, you can increase your speed, but it is most important to be smooth and maintain control. If your car has street tires, they will make noise as you corner, but a constant howl likely means you're exceeding their stopping/turning/braking capabilities. Lots of tail sliding, burnouts, and e-brake turns may look cool, but it's not the fastest way through the course. You don't want to wrestle the car, because your car will react better to smooth inputs. Unlike World Rally or ice-racing, you can use the available surface traction to your advantage, so you want to try to avoid sliding when you can. Don't get stressed about your time, you're there to have fun!
Hopefully your time improves with each subsequent run, if not, help is all around you: Don't be afraid to identify yourself as a novice, autocrossers are a friendly & helpful bunch who want to share their love of their hobby with you. We want you to enjoy yourself so that you will come back and see us again and again!
Minors (Under 18)
Minors must have a Minor Waiver Form completed and signed by BOTH parents (unless you have only 1) to be able to drive/ride along. They are available at the event, and must be signed at the event. The form is available here, but must be signed at the event.
This is roughly the time table of events at SUSQ region Autocross events.
6-8am: Early help arrives to setup
8am: Event venue open for participants for car setup, parking, etc.
8-9:45: Tech open
8:30-9:45: Registration opens, re-opens between heats
8:30-9:45: course open for walking
9:15: Novice walk-through
9:45: Drivers (and all persons on-site) mandatory meeting
10am: First heat starts, first car off
end of event: Awards ceremony
There is usually a 15 minute break between heats for grid change over and walk-throughs. At events where time is constrained, walk-throughs may be limited to only between heats 2 and 3, at the event chairman's discretion. Hersheypark is one event where we are limited on time and may not allow walk-throughs. Also, Hersheypark (big lot) events start earlier by 1/2 hour.
Working the course
Top rules to ALWAYS remember:
- YOUR safety is top priority. Always keep eyes out for cars coming your way.
- The safety of the other workers on course is second priority. Keep your friends safe.
- The safety of any spectators is your third priority. Sometimes people wander on course or stand somewhere dangerous. Stop cars if you need to until the spectators can be moved to somewhere safe.
- The cars on course can sometimes be a danger to their drivers or other cars on course. Be especially wary of novice drivers on their first run. They can sometimes wander off course and head for other cars. Stop cars that are lost or point them to a safe course exit.
- Shagging a cone is last and least important duty when you are working a corner.
Rules for working a corner:
- Always stand up. NO SITTING EVER! You never know when you need to fetch a cone or even run out of the way.
- When you see a cone hit at your corner, RUN for it! DO NOT WALK. You have approximately 30 seconds to get to the cone(s), put them back in the box, and get back to a safe distance.
- If you can’t get to the cone, or there are a bunch of them, DO NOT try to be a hero or risk your life! Have the radio worker call in and the starter can hold the next car. If a second car is on track then they can get a rerun if the cones are down. Radio in right away if you cannot get the cones.
- Always face the course. Know where the cars come through your area. Only if you are RUNNING back to your corner station should your be back to the course.
- If you are the red-flag holder, always keep it at the ready in your hand. Don’t roll it up. Keep it bunched up in your hand. If you are told to red flag a car, wave the flag around vigorously. It should unfurl itself as you do this. Remember, the driver is very focussed on the course and you need to make the flag stand out for him. You might need to step toward the course *a little* to get more attention. As the flagger/radio person, you should not run for cones. The others at the corner should be getting the cones as you radio in penalties.
- When the car stops, quickly get over to the driver and have him continue through slowly or give other directions that the safety steward radios to you. Remember, there may be another car still coming behind and it may not be slowed or stopped yet!
- If a cone is completely out of the box, whether standing up or knocked over, PENALTY.
- If the cone is knocked over on its side, PENALTY. Even if its touching the box.
- If the cone is standing up, yet part of it still touches or crosses the box it sits in, then it is GOOD (OK, no penalty). Cars have been known to hit cones, flip them in the air, and have them land back in the box, standing up. This is OK (no penalty).
- If the car goes outside of a gate or on the wrong side of a pointer (laying down) cone, then that car is OFF COURSE and is DNF’d.
- If a car spins around, turns around, or gets outside of the “normal driving line”, yet stays inside the proper gates, does not shortcut a gate and does not go twice through a gate, it is OK (no penalty). Only when a gate is missed is it OFF COURSE.
- If a driver goes through the same gate twice by way of spinning out or not going through the correct gate sequence (i.e.. slalom), that is also OFF COURSE.
- If the car hits a family of cones, and some of them are pointer cones (laying down), the pointer cones do not count in the total cone count.
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Cone inside the chalked outline box...
Cones out of box are a penalty...
Cones over but touching - still a penalty...
Cone up but still touching box - OK!, no penalty
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Other Useful Links
SCCA Solo/Autocross Rules:
FastTrack SCCA News (updates for rules and classifications)
|The Official SCCA Site||A great site for getting started - good national calendar||Autocross Frequently Asked Questions|
Novice Autocross Guide
SCCA Fast Track News contains supplemental regulations, classing changes, and mid-year updates as well as monthly SCCA National business. It is no longer printed in Sports Car Magazine. Go to www.SCCA.com and click on the link for "SOLO", then look for the "Solo Resources" section and click on FastTrack Newx, then you will see PDF files of past issues you can download.