WHAT IS AUTOCROSS?
Simply, it’s the American adaptation of European Gymkhana events. Gymkhana are driver skill events with total emphasis on driver skill vs. a cars build and overall power. But as the sport pad it across the pond with more of our American muscle involved, event size and speeds when up. It is still the easiest and cheapest form of Motorsport to get into with Stock Class cars being able to drive to an event, race as they are, and drive home with a trophy. This even happens on a National level with drivers having corporate sponsorship and winning prize money on the weekend, while in a lot a cases driving the same car the makes the school run during the week.
WHAT IS NEEDED TO AUTOCROSS?
Virtually any safe car will work. There is almost a class for anything. And if there isn’t, most local groups like the ASCC will simply make a class for you if there are other similar cars to run with. You can see anything from a mid 80’s Honda Civic to a brand new Ferrari 488 to a open wheel Formula car. All you really need to bring is a drivers license, your car, a helmet, and maybe something to eat and drink if food is not close by. Once you arrive at the event, you register, get your car safety inspected, and go walk the course several times so you know where you are going. The more events you do, the more you will know what you need and do not need. A lot of people bring extra air and a good tire gauge to adjust tire pressures and chalk to mark your tires.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
Each car club and group will have its own individual set of rules. Each different location might also have some site specific rules. But the default rules that most independent clubs like the ASCC uses are from the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). But each SCCA region and every club will reserve the right to make adjustments based on a variety of locations, needs, and situations. But in general everyone tries to stick as closely to the book as possible.
Car specific clubs like the National Council of Corvettes (NCCC), Porsche Club or America (PCA), Mustang Club of America (MCA) just to name a few, will also have their own sets of rules and classing. The Akron Sports Car Club has hosted events for virtually all the various clubs in the Ohio area and Pennsylvania. All our events will be by SCCA rules, but we can make adjustments within each event to accommodate any other car organization. We are very flexible and can essentially run events within events.
In general, autocross events are a much faster and longer version of the gymkhana mentioned above, but the primary emphasis is still on driver skill but the car and a cars build in the modified classes does come into play.
To get you started if you are new to driving events like autocross, click here for the standard SCCA Rules.
HOW ARE THE EVENTS RUN?
Autocross events normally consist of 3 heats with all the cars classified into different heats and announced at the drivers meeting just before the event starts. Heats are classified as RUN, WORK, REST. Everyone will cycle through each phase. When you are RESTING that means you can just sit and watch the event or finish prep on your car or get a bite to eat. RUNNING means you are in grid with your car waiting to take one of your multiple runs. We try to give at least 6, sometimes as many as 10 runs per event. WORKING means you are on course at a corner station watching for cars to drive off course or replace any cones that maybe hit. Once everyone has cycled through each phase and all the runs have been completed, times will be sorted and class winners for the event will be announced at the end of the day.
Normal time frame for local events involves event crews arriving on site about 7:00am for setup. Course walks and registration opens about 8am. Drivers meeting about 9:45am and 1st car off at 10:00am. Events, depending on number of participants and number of runs last about 5-6 hours.
THE KIDS, SIGNIFICANT OTHER, FRIENDS?
Autocross events are very family friendly and open to anyone with a legal drivers license. Some places even allow children to race with karts but that is venue specific. Kids can still come and watch. Many people will also share and co-drive the same car. Husband wife teams, father son, mother daughter, sometimes even 3-4 drivers per car. The main goal is everyone having a good time.
We run rain or shine unless it’s determined to be too dangerous like thunderstorms. But if the weather looks bad early in the morning before we setup, we will either look at postponing the event start a little later in the day but if it’s more than a 3hr delay, then we will just cancel. We communicate all this with Twitter and Facebook. But we actually start watching the weather the day before and will start posting alerts the night before. Obviously if it looks like a solid few days of constant rain, we will post and cancel the event the night before giving as much notice as possible.
AND FINALLY…WHAT’S IT COST?
Like any Motorsport event, it costs what you put into it. Those of us that race Nationally do have trailers, car haulers, extra wheels and tires all for a completely stock car that could actually be driven to an event. But locally, most people just drive to the events if their car is street legal. Depending on the organization running the auto crosses, price per driver can be as little as $20 or as much as $200 depending on the event. Most also have memberships that will reduce the price of each event. Those typically cost between $50-$125 depending on who you join. The ASCC tries to keep the price per autocross events around $35 for members and $45 for non-members with only a $50 membership fee and $35 annual renewal. This also gets you discounts at local businesses and shops.