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> Beginners guide for getting into motorsports, Feel free to sticky this
flohtingPoint
  Posted: Jan 20 2010, 07:38 PM


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Intro:
At the time that this is being written, it is late January, which is a perfect time to start preparing yourself for the next season if you're new to motorsports. Most veterans start a month or two before this, but January is just fine for beginners. If you haven't logged at least 10 autocrosses/HPDE events (a small season), you're a beginner.

What do I need?

To start off, you'll need a car. Any car will suffice, you dont need the most modified car on the block because either way, you will not post good results as competitive driving is not easy and it'll take a while to get the hang of it. Drive your mom's car, your car, a rental car (not recommended for HPDE's, and yes, we'll cover HPDE's later), whatever, as long as it has insurance (some places check).

If you have a stock vehicle, leave the thing alone until you read the rule books for the respective hosts. A stock vehicle is perfect, as you haven't out-classed your car yet. Example? Sure. Lets say you have a bone stock 96 Corolla, perhaps the least interesting car on the planet. If you did something small like remove the rear seats, you've already put the car in one of two categories, SM (Street Modified) or Prepared (both of which are massively out of the Corolla's league).

Aside from a car, here are some other things you'll need:
-Colored tape (for numbering on your car)
-Assorted tools (for problems on the track, adjustments, or loaning to people)
-Tow strap (not really needed, but I always bring one and it's come in handy quite a few times)
-Air pump and tire gauge
-Sun screen
-Water
-A hat
-Helmet, Snell SA rated (they'll have loaners at the track, but they smell like other peoples head sweat)
-Pants (dont wear shorts to an event unless you already know everyone else there wears them)
-Last but not least, a good attitude. Dont be a jerk or sulk. Show interest and effort and it'll pay off in your times

One of my favorite places to get gear is: http://www.soloracer.com/. They carry a lot of affordable stuff and most of it is approved for track usage.


How do I start?

It's a lot easier now than it used to be. Back in the day, a lot of the events you went to were via newsletter or word of mouth, but now we have the great internet to guide us.

There are two main organizations that host amateur racing events; SCCA and NASA. We'll start with SCCA as it is the group I'm most familiar with. I'm a long time autocrosser and have been going to these events for years. For the purpose of this write-up, we'll focus on their Solo II division, or known by it's name now, autocross.


SCCA
http://www.scca.com/hub.aspx?hub=3 That is the website for the SCCA solo division.

http://www.scca.com/contentpage.aspx?content=61 That is the link to their rules, DOWNLOAD THE LATEST RULES AND READ THE WHOLE THING! In the rule book, you can also figure out what class your car will be in, dont sweat this too much, as you shouldn't worry about competing, just learning.

http://www.scca.com/events.aspx?hub=10 This is the link to their event's listing. You can find the upcoming events for your local region. You also would probably want to find your local chapter's website. Case in point, Washington DC's site (my chapter) is http://66.235.178.15/ and I mainly stick to that one for my local info.



NASA
NASA hosts things called HPDE's, which are High Performance Driving Event. This is actual track driving. You'll be stuck in something called HPDE-1, meaning you'll have a trainer in your co-pilot seat and passing will be almost non-existent.

Controlling your car on an autocross course is VERY different to track driving. On a track, there is usually only one proper line to take, where as with autocross it's more of an idea of how to attack the course. Autocrossers make decent track drivers (once they get used to other cars on the course) but track drivers struggle at first with the transition to a cone based arena.

http://www.nasaproracing.com/hpde/ That is the website for HPDE's. Read and learn it. There is also a rules document on that link, download that and study it.

https://www.nasaproracing.com/event This is the page where you can find events in your local area, both HPDE track and autocross.


Regional events
Regional events are how I fill my calendar on non-SCCA or non-NASA weekends. How you find your regional clubs is by one of two ways; Googling or word of mouth at the track (just like back in the day). I'm lucky in my area, DC has the Porsche Club, the BMW Club and the Miata Club that host events (just because you dont own one of those cars doesn't mean they wont accept you, just ask).


How many events should I attend?

This is really up to you. 10 is a decent beginner schedule, but always remember that the more seat time you get, the better you become. An advanced schedule will be around the 30 area.

To give you an idea, here is my tentative schedule for this coming season, you can browse this and see how my weekends are filled (32 event day's so far):
http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=j...merica/New_York


Now that I've registered and attended events, how do I get faster?

You first stop should be a book store or Amazon and pick up http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Solo-Racing-...64101699&sr=8-1. Everyone has read this and while the book is a little dated, the information is still pertinent.

Now that you've read that book, if you still want to read other material, I suggest:
http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Autocross-Te...ntt_at_ep_dpi_3

http://www.amazon.com/Competition-Driving-...5/ref=sid_dp_dp

http://www.amazon.com/Race-Win-Become-Comp...64102462&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Drive-Win-Essential-...d_bxgy_b_text_c

Reading aside, there are several autocross courses you can sign up for each year put on by the SCCA or local associations. In these schools, you have trainers drive your car along the course, showing you the vehicles capability and then you attempt to match it. The instructor will be in your cockpit a times, giving you advice on turn-in times, braking and such. I highly suggest looking into these, as even I attend them each year that I can.


Do's and Dont's

-DO show up early (I suggest 1 hr early, I show up 2 hrs early). Event start time can usually be found on the respective webpage you got the event from.
-DO ask plenty of questions. If you have them, fire away. You're only going to learn that way.
-DO study your course map (if given one at registration) and pay close attention at the course walk (where you get to walk the course).
-DO pay attention during the drivers meeting before the event kicks off.
-DO bring lunch money. You WILL get hungry.
-DO study how everyone else attacks the course. I walk to several vantage points to spectate lines that people are taking and braking points.
-DO introduce yourself to people. Make as many friends as you can and don't pretend to be anything other than a rookie. Ask for advice, show your ignorance, there is nothing to be ashamed of.

-DONT leave without working the course. If you drive, you have to work the course. Ask during the drivers meeting if they dont cover this.
-DONT litter.
-DONT talk/brag about street racing or any run-in's with the police.
-DONT party the night before. Get a good rest. I crash out at 9pm on the night before an event.
-DONT wear shorts. I covered this already, but I cant stress how many times I've seen folks sent home because they didn't wear pants at several events I've been to.
-DONT wear anything other than closed toe'd shoes. NO sandals.
-DONT talk on the phone when you're staging to drive, driving or working the course. I turn my phone off the whole time I'm at the track.
-DONT be a f**kbag.
-DONT leave the course to go home without checking your tire pressures.


Where can I get more info?

Read more is the best way. Check out Grassroots Motorsports magazine http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/, I get it monthly and read it cover to cover. It's an excellent magazine for your amateur racer. They also have a forum on their website that you can scour for tips and tricks, or even join it to ask questions.

The main point of these events are to have fun. Be safe, and good luck.

This post has been edited by flohtingPoint on Jan 21 2010, 11:42 AM
JaeMok
Posted: Jan 20 2010, 07:51 PM


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Oh this will be helpful once I finish high school and get more time. Thanks for posting this! Lots of good information.
MattW
Posted: Jan 20 2010, 08:01 PM


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I race a different kinda discipline, so this doesn't apply....mostly. tongue.gif
Kiroshino
Posted: Jan 20 2010, 09:00 PM


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Good things to keep in mind. A bit far into the future for me, but still good information to know nonetheless. Thanks. smile.gif

This post has been edited by Kiroshino on Jan 20 2010, 09:00 PM
Shirogane
Posted: Jan 20 2010, 09:02 PM


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QUOTE (MattW @ 1 hour, 0 minutes ago)
I race a different kinda discipline, so this doesn't apply....mostly. tongue.gif

As long as it works. laugh.gif

Thought about doing just one race with the XT6, most of the important bits are mended. Though I'm not too sure since the FT4WD feature did take its toll on the first XT6. sad.gif
Yoshida Seiji
Posted: Jan 20 2010, 09:05 PM


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QUOTE (MattW @ 1 hour, 4 minutes ago)
I race a different kinda discipline, so this doesn't apply....mostly. tongue.gif

I dunno man. A lot of the shit he mentioned is pretty basic stuff that you should be doing no matter what type of racing you take part in.

Also video game racing doesn't count. :x

This post has been edited by Yoshida Seiji on Jan 20 2010, 09:06 PM
MattW
Posted: Jan 20 2010, 09:28 PM


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QUOTE (Yoshida Seiji @ 22 minutes, 44 seconds ago)
I dunno man. A lot of the shit he mentioned is pretty basic stuff that you should be doing no matter what type of racing you take part in.

Also video game racing doesn't count. :x

user posted image
Image size reduced, original size: 1023 x 681. Click here to view the image in its original dimension.

wink2.gif

I only turn one way. tongue.gif

This post has been edited by MattW on Jan 20 2010, 09:28 PM
djmisio85
Posted: Jan 20 2010, 10:15 PM


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QUOTE (flohtingPoint @ 2 hours, 36 minutes ago)
-Last but not least, a good attitude. Dont be a jerk or sulk. Show interest and effort and it'll pay off in your times

-DO ask plenty of questions. If you have them, fire away. You're only going to learn that way.

-DO pay attention during the drivers meeting before the event kicks off.

-DO study how everyone else attacks the course. I walk to several vantage points to spectate lines that people are taking and braking points.

-DO introduce yourself to people. Make as many friends as you can and don't pretend to be anything other than a rookie. Ask for advice, show your ignorance, there is nothing to be ashamed of.

-DONT be a f**kbag.

Those are the most important bits of advice smile.gif Especially the first one and the last one wink2.gif

Nice write up cool.gif
Möbius
Posted: Jan 20 2010, 10:23 PM


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*Topic Pinned*

Thanks , floht. smile.gif
toyoguy
Posted: Jan 21 2010, 03:10 PM


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kk im a noob, what does working the course mean?
flohtingPoint
  Posted: Jan 21 2010, 03:22 PM


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QUOTE (toyoguy @ 12 minutes, 37 seconds ago)
kk im a noob, what does working the course mean?

Everyone gets a job assignment at an autocross. New folks will more often than not be shagging cones. Its stuff you'll find out about when you actually go to an event. They cover work assignments in the drivers meeting.
MetalMan777
Posted: Jan 21 2010, 03:38 PM


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Cactus's guide to getting into motorsports.

Step 1: Post a thread on the 24 hours of lemons forum offering your services as a mechanic/driver who will pay money/prostitute/liquor distribution specialist.

Step 2: Wait for people to email you.

Step 3: ??????

Step 4: -REDACTED-
WRX DEMON Type R
Posted: Jan 21 2010, 05:42 PM


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QUOTE (djmisio85 @ Yesterday, 3:15 PM)
Those are the most important bits of advice smile.gif Especially the first one and the last one wink2.gif

Nice write up cool.gif

Yes, very informative.

Thanks Floting. happy.gif
Trasher_54
Posted: Jan 21 2010, 05:49 PM


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This one's very helpful since I might try out motorsports in the future.

Thanks for the guide. biggrin.gif
Spaz
Posted: Jan 21 2010, 07:18 PM


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This is a good write up. How many times do you walk the course, floht? I always do 3 at least.
flohtingPoint
  Posted: Jan 21 2010, 07:27 PM


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QUOTE (cmspaz @ 9 minutes, 3 seconds ago)
This is a good write up. How many times do you walk the course, floht? I always do 3 at least.

At at lot of regional courses, I help set up (hence the at least 2 hours arrival time), so I'm quite familiar with the courses. We also do dry runs to clock average times for classes and I get to do this for my car(s). I also video tape my runs and watch the footage between runs to get a better idea of how I should attack the course on my next run.

At NASA auto-x's we sometimes do a parade lap in our cars, which is ridiculously beneficial.

It's odd, my hero is Aryton Senna, but I relate more to Alain Prost in terms of my setup. I'm extremely precise about everything and very meticulous about my prep.
Alex
Posted: Jan 21 2010, 07:58 PM


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QUOTE (flohtingPoint @ Yesterday, 11:38 PM)
Where can I get more info?

Read more is the best way. Check out Grassroots Motorsports magazine http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/, I get it monthly and read it cover to cover. It's an excellent magazine for your amateur racer. They also have a forum on their website that you can scour for tips and tricks, or even join it to ask questions.

I'd like to point out (something Stevolopolous pointed out to me) that a popular IDW member from the old days, SlickDizzy, was quoted on page 28 of the February issue of GRM in their "Words of Wisdom from the GRM Message Board" column.
Spaz
Posted: Jan 21 2010, 08:29 PM


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QUOTE (flohtingPoint @ 1 hour, 2 minutes ago)
At at lot of regional courses, I help set up (hence the at least 2 hours arrival time), so I'm quite familiar with the courses. We also do dry runs to clock average times for classes and I get to do this for my car(s). I also video tape my runs and watch the footage between runs to get a better idea of how I should attack the course on my next run.

At NASA auto-x's we sometimes do a parade lap in our cars, which is ridiculously beneficial.

Holy hell would a parade lap help.

I normally work registration, so I'm there hella early as well, but I don't have to worry about working the course and can run around with my camera or sit with a soda during other run groups.
Möbius
Posted: Jan 21 2010, 10:47 PM


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QUOTE (flohtingPoint @ 3 hours, 19 minutes ago)
It's odd, my hero is Aryton Senna, but I relate more to Alain Prost in terms of my setup. I'm extremely precise about everything and very meticulous about my prep.

Sorry floht, I just have to quote that. worship.gif
MattW
Posted: Jan 21 2010, 11:54 PM


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QUOTE (Apex Carver @ 1 hour, 6 minutes ago)
Sorry floht, I just have to quote that. worship.gif

I highly doubt many members on this board will know who those two people are though. Sad, isn't it.
Spaz
Posted: Jan 22 2010, 06:17 AM


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QUOTE (MattW @ 6 hours, 23 minutes ago)
I highly doubt many members on this board will know who those two people are though.  Sad, isn't it.

Very much so.
Möbius
Posted: Jan 22 2010, 07:29 AM


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QUOTE (MattW @ 7 hours, 35 minutes ago)
I highly doubt many members on this board will know who those two people are though. Sad, isn't it.

And even in saying that, it's one thing to know who those two are, and quite another to recognize the relevance of that statement. smile.gif
flohtingPoint
  Posted: Jan 22 2010, 07:45 AM


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QUOTE (Apex Carver @ 16 minutes, 5 seconds ago)
And even in saying that, it's one thing to know who those two are, and quite another to recognize the relevance of that statement. smile.gif

It is hard to say, as you're either a Prost guy or a Senna guy, so saying I relate to Prost is rough.

Some folks may know Senna/Prost, or at least the names on this board. Now, if they know Piquet/Mansell, then they get a cookie.
MattW
Posted: Jan 22 2010, 09:49 AM


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QUOTE (flohtingPoint @ 2 hours, 3 minutes ago)
It is hard to say, as you're either a Prost guy or a Senna guy, so saying I relate to Prost is rough.

Some folks may know Senna/Prost, or at least the names on this board. Now, if they know Piquet/Mansell, then they get a cookie.

Nige just needs to tell his boys to stop racing, they're ruining the family name.
flohtingPoint
  Posted: Jan 22 2010, 10:16 AM


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QUOTE (MattW @ 27 minutes, 33 seconds ago)
Nige just needs to tell his boys to stop racing, they're ruining the family name.

Nelson too after his sons debacle at singapore and then ratting out Renault like a spoiled child. Latest on Piquet Jr has him racing NASCAR. Wonder how long before he rats his team out there over some deviation from the rules?

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