When you arrive at the autocross, you’ll see a course set up on a large parking lot. Soft, rubber traffic cones will be used to form the course, which consists of turns, slaloms, and straights. Arrive early — see what goes on, volunteer to get involved!
Ideally, you should prepare your car before you arrive. Remove all loose items from your car — floor mats, driver’s carpet, coffee cups, etc. Check tire pressures. You may arrive early and set your parking spot up with chair and anything else you feel you may need.
Check the course map at the timing trailer and attend the driver’s meeting where you will learn about the course:
Walk the course with an experienced driver (also known as walking the line)
Study the course map, and then walk the course. If no map is provided, make your own. You will be given 10 – 20 minutes to walk the course before run sessions start. The first problem that confronts every autocrosser is staying on course, so the first step is to learn where it goes.
Walk the line (path through the course) you plan to drive as if you were sitting in the driver’s seat. Check for surface bumps, loose gravel and stones, uneven pavement, joints, etc. Stop and study difficult or optional sections of the course to plan your line. Observe other drivers and note where they hit pylons or have difficulty staying on course. Move around the course to observe problem areas from different locations.
At this point, decide how you want to drive the course (with help from your instructor and/or other experienced autocrossers). How to drive the course calls for a plan. And remember, an imperfect plan is always better than no plan at all.
The question autocrossers ask most often is: “How do I determine the best line or path around the course?”. Starting off, concentrate only on determining the best line, which may be compared to slalom skiing. In an autocross, we are concerned with three things: time, distance, and speed.
The formula time = distance / speed expresses the relationship of three key factors in autocross. To drive the course in the least possible amount of time, the line must offer the shortest distance and permit the greatest speed. As the formula illustrates, time can be decreased by either shortening the distance or increasing the speed — or better yet, both. Many times it becomes impossible to drive at the highest speed over the shortest distance. When this occurs, the best path is a compromise somewhere between the two extremes.
Watch other drivers
What line are they driving?
Where are the braking points?
Where are the shifting points (up and down)?
Now it’s your turn
• Bring your car to the staging area
• Proceed to start line
• Check your seat belt
• Double-check that all loose objects are out of the car
• Focus on how you want to drive the course
Starter gives the OK!
• Launch the car quickly (weigh pros and cons of driveline abuse vs preservation)
• Look several turns ahead if possible
• Know where you want to place the car
• Remember when to brake and shift
If you should spin
• BOTH FEET IN = depress the clutch and brake fully
• Stop the car and don’t start again until corner workers re-start you
• Finish the course and we will give you an applause.
If you see a Red Flag
• Quickly come to a complete stop
• Look for corner workers to re-start you
• Drive the First Run at Reduced Throttle
The Bottom Line…
• Learn to stay on course
• Drive a good line
• Drive smoothly
• Have a good time!