View Full Version : Your first 'On Track' experience?

02-01-2006, 05:56 AM
I'm planning on taking my 68 Camaro onto an autocross track this summer to have some fun. I'm not trying to become a competitive racer by any means, just looking for a place to drive more aggresively that allowed on the street.

What can you suggest can be done now to prevent common problems that you have experienced your first time out? Not sure what I'm looking for, I just thought some of you with experience may have some common problems with things that you just didn't think of until your first time on track.

Does that make sense?


02-01-2006, 07:32 AM
In the Racing Events section....


02-01-2006, 07:41 AM
Carls link is loaded with great information. On top of everything in that thread ,just make sure you bring tools and extra fluids for you and your car. Most imporatant. HAVE FUN AND VIDEO TAPE IT! :)
You can also read thru several of the threads in the race events section and almost every single one lists lots of great information.

02-01-2006, 10:58 AM
Great info guys. I don't know why I didn't see that thread. I'll look a little deeeper!

One thing that I did notice in there was the suggestion to add a trans cooler to the return line of the power-steering. Did I get that right? Is this an acceptable means of doing so?

The other thing I wondered about was oil presssure under hard cornering. Is this a common problem that I could expect? Or it that only in extreme cases or long sweeping turns? Thought about an oversized idiot light on a pressure switch??

Thanks guys.

Damn True
02-01-2006, 11:24 AM
Loss of oil pressure can happen in a number of different ways on a road course.

The oil return circuit on some Gen I engines is pretty restrictive. Long periods of high RPM running can cause oil to be pumped into the top of the motor far faster than it can drain back to the pan. There are ways to improve drainback and I believe Carl has employed a few, he'll have to fill you in on what they are.

A normal oil pan does little to keep said fluid where it is supposed to be. [Grab a cake pan, 1/2 fill it with milk, hold it in front of you and spin in a circle like an ice skater.] it dosen't take much of a corner to toss the majority of the oil in the pan up onto the sides, rather than resting in the bottom near the pickup. Combine that with the drainback issue and you can see that it is rather easy to starve an engine.

02-01-2006, 03:13 PM
Where do you live?

02-01-2006, 11:39 PM
HI Robb,

Another suggestion is to increase the air pressure in the tires as you'll be cornering much harder than you normally do. At least 40 psi, preferably more (I've run as high as 50 psi with some of the cars). When you get to the autocross, check with registration and ask who's competing in a similar car in your class. Let that person know you're a first-timer and need some help with tire pressures. Hopefully, they'll come through for you. Recheck tire pressures after each run.

Make sure your drivetrain fluids are at safe operating levels. Increase the engine oil capacity by 1/2 quart if you're unsure about oil starvation under hard cornering. You probably won't have problems as you're not cornering for a long duration but it's a suggestion.

As far as a power steering cooler, you probably won't be running long enough to need the additional cooling. When we autocrossed our '89 IROC, we never had any problems with either transmission, engine, or power steering operation.

Make sure you have a legal helmet and if you're in a closed car, try to get an open-faced helmet. I personally like them over a closed-face design for autocrossing as you can see more. I think the minimum Snell rating is 1995 but all the helmets now are at least Snell 2000 rated. If you buy a helmet, get a good quality one with the latest Snell rating sticker.

Run with a full tank of fuel (eliminates the weight transfer from sloshing) and keep the spare tire in as it helps the balance of the car. Make sure the car is clean and all the loose stuff is out of it (you have no idea how weird a Coke bottle feels when it comes flying out from under the seat during hard braking and then gets stuck between the brake and accelerator pedals).

Get there early and walk the course several times if you can using the lines you'll be driving. Also, see if you get a practice lap followed by timed laps or if it's just one timed lap per run. Most autocrosses have dropped the practice/timed laps format and give three or four single-timed laps with the fastest time used for class placings.

And don't banzai your first run!!! You're on cold tires and the car will slide much more than it will with warmed tires. I can't stress this enough as it really limits your learning curve. Work up to the limits, not have to back off to find them. Your last, or second to last, run should be your fastest. Be smooth with the throttle and brakes, and keep your eyes up. Don't focus on the pylons directly ahead but look past or "through" them. If you look down, you can't "reacquire" the track easily and will be slower as a result. Because you've walked the course, you'll know where you're going. And remember, a spinning tire and sliding car doesn't offer forward movement.

And when you're done for the day, drop your tire pressures down to street values to keep tire wear to a minimum. And don't fall prey to the urge to play street racer either as I can't begin to tell you how many times people have gotten tickets after an autocross.

And make sure to have fun. Autocrossing is addictive and you'll probably meet several people that will become good friends. Enjoy yourself and keep at it. Your times will drop and you'll start placing consistently.

02-02-2006, 05:08 AM
Where do you live?

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Many thanks for all the info. I went to one of the winter events for a local motorsport club and they seem very helpful and receptive to newbies. I'm looking forward to spring getting here. In May, the club offers a school day with a couple of the most experienced club members to introduce people to the sport. If I have the car back together by then, I will make sure to attend.

I don't expect to become boy racer, although everyone says it's addictive! I'm more concerned about hurting the car than shaving a second off my time! Who knows, by the end of the summer maybe I'll have the bug so bad that I've stripped my car down into an all out race car!!! :evil: I'm sure the wife would like that! :here!: :getout:

Thanks again