View Full Version : First Autocross

08-24-2005, 03:54 PM
Going to my first autocross this weekend if weather holds up. Do you guys have any suggestions or advice. Thanks Andy

08-24-2005, 04:17 PM
relax and be smooth, you will go faster that way. Smooth first run, pick up a little each run.watch the fast guys from all different angles and watch where they put the car.

You will be addicted!

08-24-2005, 06:17 PM
Hey man, your gonna have a blast, my advice to you is walk the track as much as you can before you race and ask the fast guys if you can ride along with them, this really helped me out. Most people their are really friendly and will give you pointers. Other than that don't worry and just have fun.


Steve Chryssos
08-25-2005, 08:44 AM

That's the hardest part--especially for a novice. For example, on a road course you have pavement edged by curbs, grass, run-offs, trees, barriers, etc. It's very easy to see the paved course. With autocross, the course is delineated by cones. You have pavement on either side of the cones. And the course tends to double back over itself. So there are cones EVERYWHERE!!.

While doing a walk thru, it is very easy to see the course, but at speed--at times, all you will see is a mess of cones. The smaller the course, the bigger the mess--especially in the middle sections.

You will more than likely get 6, 8 or even 12 runs. So, use your first two runs to "see" and memorize the course layout. After you can see the course, then you can concentrate on your line. After you can carry a good line, you can then work on your speed. Keep trying.

1) "See" the course.
2) Work on your "line".
3) Work on your speed.
4) Keep going back!!! (Your 1st experience may be more frustrating and embarrassing than you had expected. Don't give up. Keep going back. Frustration turns into skill. Embarrassment turns into speed. Skill and speed equal fun.

David Pozzi
08-25-2005, 08:44 PM
Here is some info from my web page:

Written By David English III

Hello All,

Here's the Final draft put together with additional input provided by David Pozzi, Don Elzinga, John Panuzzo.(Experience in Racing and Autocross)

SLALOM RACING(normally speeds under 80kms through cones)


1. -- Absolutely a must would be wheels in balance & alignment!(Note that alignment is important but if you use a separate set of tires for racing balance isn't' overly important), Brakes in working order!!, restraints depending on your class.

2. -- the suspension needs to be in top condition, especially wheel bearings, ball joints, bushings and steering linkage. These parts have heavy loads placed on them and need to be in good condition to keep the tires flat on the pavement. I would consider improving tires and shocks and suspension (in that order) to be the most important items for improving times.

[You might want to have your rear axle flanges magna-fluxed every few years. I've seen a few come unglued. It can really mess up your calipers and brackets if you've got rear disk brakes.]

3. -- Increase your tire pressure, especially on the older models, to prevent/minimize 'tire roll', I used to run my BF Goodrichs at 44 psi when Slaloming and 35psi on the street.

[Tire pressure should be set for the best: F/R traction I.E. Braking, Acceleration. (slightly lower pressure helps.) cornering power, (slightly higher pressure helps) mainly keep the sidewall from rolling over. driver feel (higher helps.) even temperature across the tread is an indication you are close. you can feel the tire with your hand immediately after a run. Run about 5 to 8 pounds more air pressure in the front tires. The front tires have more side force on them because the front tires do about 75 percent of the work of keeping the car from leaning in a corner. They also are being turned and braked (75 percent of braking too!) when entering corners and that is when you are likely to roll the sidewall under if the pressures are to low. 40 to 45 psi is a good front pressure. The rear tires have less side load and weight in a corvette. Although I think the weight bias is close to 50-50% at least they used to be in the old ones. The slightly lower pressure in the rear will help acceleration traction by giving a larger footprint. if you go too low the center of the tire will not press down and any advantage will be lost.)]

4. -- Try to get as much negative camber and positive caster in the front as you can get.

[Up to a point. Some cars can get too much camber (I don't know about 'vettes). If you go past 2 degrees, braking starts to suffer.] NOTE: there's a much larger explanation on this factor but due to the length of this message it won't fit, it's included in the file UL.

5. -- Run with a full tank of gas.

6. -- Tires: Proper Road Race or autocross dot (us department of transportation street legal) radials will be about 5 seconds quicker in a 1 minute run. Compared to the kind you would buy in a regular tire store. Competition between the tire companies has been so fierce that these tires are sometimes better than racing slicks for autocross use. use rims as wide as the tread width.[Note that in stock class, you're restricted to a rim size that was available on your car.]

7. -- a warmer tire is almost always better for traction.


1. -- Always good to walk the course, memorize the course in your head and run through it in your head.

2. -- While walking the course, look for a "line", the path you believe will be the fastest(not necessarily the shortest) in particular try to pick out trouble spots, braking areas, downshift areas, etc.[I can't stress enough the fact that the driver needs to know exactly where the car needs to be all the way thru the course.]

3. -- Take a practice run, but don't race the course, put in a quick solid run to get a feel for the course and assess if your 'course inspection' was on or not. I like to put in a quick, smooth run to set as a bench mark and determine how much I can shave off it when I 'race' it<g>

[If the drivers first run is his fastest it is an indication of over driving. He should strive to make the last run his fastest. by building speed each run and improving specific areas where he remembers he had trouble on the last run. If the driver is too aggressive he won't be able to recall where he needs to improve on his next run. He will also find that he needs to leave extra clearance from the cones to allow for the car sliding all over and will miss hitting his apexes more often.]


1. -- Hand position and Seat position! 9 and 3 or 10 and 2 depending on wheel size and comfort, for those of us with older model cars, good handwork is a must, a smooth and well positioned hand over hand is far more reliable than the palm "wax-on, wax-off" with tighter corners. You probably want to slide your seat forward a bit relative to where you would put it for relaxed cross-country driving. That gives you better leverage over the steering wheel.

2. -- Picking the proper gear to run in!!, Don't have experience with stds through the course but with a Late Model('89 in this case) 4 spd auto and 3:08 gears we ran very noticeably quicker times keeping it in first than 2nd(until the straight away finish of course). I run mine usually in 2nd with my 3:70s except for very slow and tight courses.

3. -- Load your car before you break the timing light. (Autos)Put your foot on the brake and Load(rev) the car until you near your stall limit, I've a 2500 stall convertor I normally bring it to 23-2400 before I take off, sometimes 2000 if I'm having trouble hooking up.

4. -- Sliding is slow! looks cool<g> but doesn't help on the clock(Weeelllll maybe in a 180 corner but you'd have to bring it quick and then straight with hookup right away, still its more flash than dash).

5. -- Tire squeal!, get used to it<g> especially pre '84s what with tire scrub you should be screaming around the track<g>.

6. -- look ahead, in skiing we were always told to look 3 gates ahead so I look 3 cones ahead<g>

7. -- be smooth and try and get a rythem, being jerky(not just steering but acceleration too) just causes more problems. A pyramid or cone style section is a good test for this.(starts with small left and rights and gets wider per each set of cones so your cranking around the middle and it becomes narrower again. don't see it much but it's cool.

8. -- A wheels traction patch; when you brake it becomes larger up front, smaller in the rear and when accelerating smaller up front and larger in the rear. So this being true, should you be working the brake and the accelerator through the corners? I prefer(and find more comfortable) keeping my revs high with a downshift and working the accelerator to increase front or rear traction.[Be aware that running a lower gear at high rpm will increase oversteer. Simply backing off the throttle will cause the car to wag its tail. Sometimes this can be an advantage, sometimes not. I would suggest balancing the suspension and sway bars for neutral handling in second gear and expect oversteer in first.]

9. -- Whatever you do don't trash your car!!<VBG> John brought up a good point on the serious side of the humor statement "Drive it Like you Hate it" This has merit, he knows of a guy who Drag Races to the motto and he wins often, I also know a guy who "Drives it to wreck it" and he wins often in Slaloms. Obviously you won't run as fast if your worried about 'hurting' your car but it's still a ton of fun and you get to push your car and get a better feel of how it'll react and handle when an emergency situation arises in everyday driving.


1. -- I usually go to the little boys room<sg>, seriously though after a good run your pumped up on adrenaline(like drinking a pot of coffee<G>) it's best to take care of business now then get that 'feeling' when your buckling up for you run.

2. -- Between runs open the hood and cool the engine by idling until the engine reaches minimum temp then shut off. TPI engines make more power when cool. Go watch the other cars run, you can learn a lot by watching them.

Many thanks to those that participated in the discussion to put this together!

Greets from Canada

Dave English III (Corvette Club of Nova Scotia)

"Wave all you Vette Owners!"

350hp/700R4/3:70gears modified '81 Vette"

10-08-2005, 08:40 PM
I had my first auto cross today actually... and im absolutely hooked.

only bad part, i brought my daily driver in (93' MX-6)... which had decent tires on it, but one blew out so i had my stock 15" wheels and Penske garbage tires on it. So my times definately suffered due to lack of tire. But even worse I got put in SM because my engine isnt the factory engine. Its the Jspec engine but its bone stock. so here i am with a 160hp car against LS1 cars with cams and 3000 GTs and 03 Cobras... I ended up taking 3rd in my class of 6 cars, and i didnt lose to the other two by much. I cant wait to get a new set of tires on my other rims and go back.

Norm Peterson
10-13-2005, 05:09 AM
There's no need to apologize for where you get your seat time, especially when you're just getting started. In addition, if you run that car a few times you'll get a better basis for choosing anything for that car when repair or normal maintenance become opportunities for upgrade. :)

FWIW, I've been running my stockish '95 626 (V6/5Spd) in STS this year. With aging SP8000's and tired struts it can actually be loose if I leave the rear tire pressures too low.


10-13-2005, 05:15 AM
what kind of tire pressures do you run on the 626? And can anyone give any testimony to Toyo tires? specifically the T1R series? I can get a good deal on them and i was wondering if they are worth it or if i should look at a different set.

Norm Peterson
10-13-2005, 07:20 AM
Tires are 205/55-15 on 15 x 6 OE alloy wheels (half an inch narrower than the '95 MX-6). Mfr sticker pressures are 32/26. In daily driving, I was around 36/30 before gas $ went up. Cold pressures. Since then, I'm closer to 40/34, hot pressures, or about 37/31+ cold for reference.

Way loose at auto-x was 42/38 hot, worse than 42/36, and a couple of psi here/there didn't improve things much. So I went lots higher, lost the excitement that had the announcer discussing my driving style as "drifting" and have started to drop back. 47/42 hot a couple of weeks ago, with the tail active but not threatening to lead the parade. Might try taking another psi out Sunday.

I can't help you with respect to the T1Rs, but I can point you toward Grassroots Motorsports (November issue) and the tire comparison article within (and available online).