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> First Autocross, Preperations, tips?
DigiBunny
  Posted: Sep 13 2009, 12:16 AM


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So I'm looking to join in on the autocross scene as a measure to my current driving skills and improve them as I go along. Frankly the thought of the cones scares me as I cant judge distance very well, and I have a feeling I'm going to stall the engine when I have to do a handbrake turn.

Any tips for a new FF driver; things to take note of and whatnot?
DamienWolf
Posted: Sep 13 2009, 01:57 AM


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Really? Where is this event gonna be? What you gonna be driving?
DigiBunny
  Posted: Sep 13 2009, 03:41 AM


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Most likely subic, though I'm still not convinced Im ready yet. I'm still listening for any news of one so I can watch and learn in person, if not give it a meager try.

an old '97 corolla with a silvertop. The wheels were swapped out for gramlights and it's been fitted with four wheel disc brakes. Other than that it's mostly stock.
ToyotaFan84
Posted: Sep 13 2009, 05:13 AM


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Please post how your experience goes I'm looking to start driving in autocross myself within the not too distant future.

I wonder if they have autocross at night... That would be so awesome! w00t2.gif
flohtingPoint
Posted: Sep 13 2009, 06:32 AM


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QUOTE (DigiBunny @ 6 hours, 15 minutes ago)
So I'm looking to join in on the autocross scene as a measure to my current driving skills and improve them as I go along. Frankly the thought of the cones scares me as I cant judge distance very well, and I have a feeling I'm going to stall the engine when I have to do a handbrake turn.

Any tips for a new FF driver; things to take note of and whatnot?

Digibunny, welcome to the world of motorsports. If you want first hand recollections of autocrosses, you can check out http://coneassassin.blogspot.com/ or you can see my videos at http://www.youtube.com/my_videos which shows in-cockpit views of some of the autocrosses I've attended this year.

Some advice on getting into autocross:

-Learn the exhaust note of when you need to shift from 1st to 2nd. 2nd gear will be 95% of the course, but having to shift from 1 to 2 w/out looking will be invaluable.

-Learn to launch properly. I've seen too many beginners stall or overrev due to trying to do too much with their feet. To launch, rev a bit (you'll have to experiment with revs to see when your tires link up well, I launch at 2.5-3) while holding down the clutch with your left foot. While you're doing this, hold the e-brake to stop your car from rolling, DO NOT touch your brake with your foot, you want your right foot on the throttle and only the throttle. When the guy gives you the signal to go, drop your e-brake while smoothly giving it acceleration and smoothly letting out the clutch. You dont want to dump the clutch and mash the throttle, you may stall or wheel-spin, both are bad. DO NOT PRACTICE THIS AT STOP LIGHTS.

-Go to your local book store and pick up a copy of Secrets of Solo Racing. Read it, highlight it and then read it again. The book is a bit old, but the information in it is still very viable.

-Check out SCCA.org for events. You can also find some at http://www.myautoevents.com/pls/mae/frmEve...event_type_id=9 You may also have local autocross groups, I'd do web searches for them in your local area, or ask around. Chances are, your fellow solo2 drivers will know of more events than just SCCA.

-Don't be nervous. You're going to suck, this is the nature of the beast. Beginners, more often than not, suck. I sucked a bunch when first starting, you will too. You need a clear, level head to stay calm and memorize the course layout. If you get confused on the course, ask for a ride-along. Someone much more experienced than you will hop in your car and do your lap with you, giving you advice.

-Clean out your car before the event, you cant have anything in your vehicle while making your run or while teching.

-Get a SNELL approved helmet. http://soloracer.com/ has a lot of pretty cheap helmets and a good fitting guide. Read through the site and get yourself something decent. A comfortable helmet is key.

-After you launch, DO NOT touch your e-brake. NO E-BRAKE TURNS. You dont want to whip your car around, you want to drive smoothly. Any loss of traction is only going to add more time to your run.

-Enjoy yourself. Like I said, you'll suck, but make sure to have fun. You're not going to beat the field your first sessions of autocrossing, but that does not mean you cant have fun. Talk to people, get to know your fellow autocrossers, get tips from them, etc. As stated, the main thing to remember is to have fun.
Spaz
Posted: Sep 13 2009, 06:01 PM


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I'm going to agree with everything above except the part about learning to launch.

I'm sure some will disagree with me on this, but every single person I've talked to has told me that launching isn't all that important in the scheme of things. All well designed courses have the start line and timing light at about a 90deg angle from each other, to prevent the AWD cars from having too much of an advantage off the line. It's effectively a great way to wear out your clutch and tires without any real gains in time. I used to do it myself, but realized that when getting off the throttle slightly to turn the corner, I wasn't spooling any earlier out of it. As long as you're hitting the powerband relatively soon out of the lights, you'll be alright.
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DamienWolf
Posted: Sep 14 2009, 03:18 AM


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I have a complete layout of Subic's SIR since we usually hold Auto-X events in TRS. Most likely the part where you're going to do your event will be on what we call the "Bus-Stop" area. The Big Chicane just after the 2nd turn. That part has some loose asphalt and take it from somebody who's done Auto-X on that part: Make sure you launch properly. Doing a lot of wheelspin in that area will just keep you spinning in place and you may lose precious time. Launch just right and let the speed roll out smoothly.

flohtingPoint said a lot of useful info but here's a few more:

- AutoX events have a lot of sharp turns. Most likely some slalom parts, chicanes and L-turns. Biggest tip is to "look ahead". You have little time for "rests" like long stretches. After you enter the first turn you have to be looking at the next move and your body should already be adjusting. Dismiss the last cone as you go past it and make sure you're getting ready for the next one. Concentrating on one turn at a time will give you less reaction time for the next one and you WILL miss out the next turn.

- Keep an eye out for cones on the right (passenger) side. It will be a blind side and something you're gonna have to "feel" through. Cones you will pass on the left side will be easier since you can see it but you will lose sight of the right cone. Make sure you take advantage of "practice runs". After our last Auto-X event in Greenhills last saturday for our "Race of Champions", there was a lady driver from Sweden who said she's used to driving right-hand drive on races (she's done some stock car racing with his father, she said), as I rode beside her, she kept hitting cones on the passenger side as she could not compensate for what has become 2nd nature to her before. As Instructor I had to fail her for hitting an insane amount of cones. Too bad, she did well everywhere else.

- Drive by your limits. Its great to be able to let loose but going too over-enthusiastic will take the fun out of everything. Learn, learn, learn. Slow and easy. Like floh said, you'll eventually be fast but for now expect that you're gonna suck.

- Keep joining AutoX events to build up your confidence. We at TRS usually hold events in which all you need is your license and can drive manual transmission. Everything else we provide, from the racing suits to the food. The more you feel confident, the safer you will drive and be able to push the car within your limits but getting a good time. Let us know how it will turn out. Most likely the TRS team will be there for a circuit car class so we could hook up for some tips.
DigiBunny
  Posted: Sep 14 2009, 04:05 AM


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-Update: Pretty much wherever works for an event. The objective is to get me to experience it as often as possible, and then work on getting the skills refined when my psyche is no longer nagging me. The only snag then, is when I have a free weekend.

2nd gear all throughout the course puts to rest my worries of having to rev match every half second; I'm still clumsy downshifting like that, let alone heel toeing. I'm concerned however that the VVTI in my car kicks in at 5000, and on a wet surface the tires will break traction with the road.

I wonder If I should remove the rear seats then. There's no rollcage, but I dont know if the weight reduction would be worth the trouble, seeing as I cant push a car to it's limit in the first place.

I tend to leave a wide berth on the passenger side while driving normally anyway, so that's probably not such a big thig; I'm willing to sacrifice lining to spare my car's paint and the cone's life.

Other than all that though, it sounds much better than I thought it would. The problem therein is driving by instinct; I havent been driving long enough to memorize my exhaust sound, as it's pretty loud at idle anyway.
flohtingPoint
Posted: Sep 14 2009, 05:17 AM


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QUOTE (DigiBunny @ 1 hour, 11 minutes ago)
-Update: Pretty much wherever works for an event. The objective is to get me to experience it as often as possible, and then work on getting the skills refined when my psyche is no longer nagging me. The only snag then, is when I have a free weekend.

2nd gear all throughout the course puts to rest my worries of having to rev match every half second; I'm still clumsy downshifting like that, let alone heel toeing. I'm concerned however that the VVTI in my car kicks in at 5000, and on a wet surface the tires will break traction with the road.

I wonder If I should remove the rear seats then. There's no rollcage, but I dont know if the weight reduction would be worth the trouble, seeing as I cant push a car to it's limit in the first place.

I tend to leave a wide berth on the passenger side while driving normally anyway, so that's probably not such a big thig; I'm willing to sacrifice lining to spare my car's paint and the cone's life.

Other than all that though, it sounds much better than I thought it would. The problem therein is driving by instinct; I havent been driving long enough to memorize my exhaust sound, as it's pretty loud at idle anyway.

You may as well remove your rear seats. With your motorswap you've already at least put yourself in the Prepared catagory, if not SM.

Your first step to do right now is to download the SCCA Solo2 rule book, read it and find out what class your car fits into. Dont do anything else to your car until then.
DigiBunny
  Posted: Sep 14 2009, 05:34 AM


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Class...FSP?
It'd be nice if I knew what that meant :\
RalliKai
Posted: Sep 14 2009, 06:49 AM


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QUOTE (DamienWolf @ 3 hours, 30 minutes ago)
- Drive by your limits. Its great to be able to let loose but going too over-enthusiastic will take the fun out of everything. Learn, learn, learn. Slow and easy. Like floh said, you'll eventually be fast but for now expect that you're gonna suck.


This piece got me when I tried AutoX for the first time. Went into a small slalom too quickly and ended up plowing into the slalom cones. pinch2.gif So keeping a level head is important.

QUOTE
Class...FSP?
It'd be nice if I knew what that meant :\


There are different classes according to what type of car or how the car has been prepared. My car operated under HS which is essentially bottom of the ladder.
Basically download the Solo2 rule book like Floh pointed out.

This post has been edited by RalliKai on Sep 14 2009, 10:03 AM
flohtingPoint
Posted: Sep 14 2009, 09:12 AM


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QUOTE (DigiBunny @ 3 hours, 38 minutes ago)
Class...FSP?
It'd be nice if I knew what that meant :\

Its very doubtful that with your motorswap that you'll be in f street prepared. Reread through all the catagories and see what class matches them.
Spaz
Posted: Sep 14 2009, 09:53 AM


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Motor swap is SM if the engine bears the same badging as from factory (either standard or optional) in the car (For example, I can use any engine from both Mitsubishi OR Chrysler). You're fine with the Toyota engine. _SP requires OE engines. Under SM rules, you can remove seats, so if you want to, do it.

EDIT: Here's a link to the '09 rulebook: http://cms.scca.com/documents/Solo_Rules/2009_Solo_Rules.pdf

This post has been edited by cmspaz on Sep 14 2009, 09:54 AM
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flohtingPoint
Posted: Sep 14 2009, 11:04 AM


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QUOTE (cmspaz @ 1 hour, 11 minutes ago)
Motor swap is SM if the engine bears the same badging as from factory (either standard or optional) in the car (For example, I can use any engine from both Mitsubishi OR Chrysler). You're fine with the Toyota engine. _SP requires OE engines. Under SM rules, you can remove seats, so if you want to, do it.

EDIT: Here's a link to the '09 rulebook: http://cms.scca.com/documents/Solo_Rules/2009_Solo_Rules.pdf


Edit: Double checked the rule book now that I have time. Yea, he'll be in SM...

OP: I suggest getting a different car to auto-x with or going berserk with your car, as SM is not the category to be in unless you have a lot of money/time invested in your car.

This post has been edited by flohtingPoint on Sep 14 2009, 11:20 AM
Spaz
Posted: Sep 14 2009, 12:14 PM


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QUOTE (flohtingPoint @ 59 minutes, 21 seconds ago)
I suggest getting a different car to auto-x with or going berserk with your car, as SM is not the category to be in unless you have a lot of money/time invested in your car.

I can't agree more. At least pick up a set of decent tires, they'll help more than any single other upgrade you can make (The next being bushings, followed by sway bars, see where this is going?). The only class street tires are really viable in are the stock classes, even the street tire class has ridiculous scaling that makes anything but the most aggressive tires worthless. A friend of mine who would have finished 2nd in SM last season finished 7th in SM-T.

I'm stuck in SM due to my turbo, so I've taken to using every advantage I can get, like killing ABS, installing lightweight driveline components, heavier clutch, boost controller, etc. I'm hoping to have my suspension completely taken care of before the end of this season, but I'll be doing most of my power stuff over the winter months.

But you'll notice the mods I was listing were all suspension mods. If you're going to build your car for this, that's where you need to initially focus your spending. All the power in the world will only get you from corner to corner, and if your car can't handle, it's all for naught. That's not to say that power isn't important. A large part of autox is maintaining speed in the corner, but how much time over your competition you can gain between corners is important as well, and can be as simple as getting on the throttle in the corner sooner, or just having more power. I know that's not perfectly correct, but I need to shut down my laptop, so I'm hurrying.
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flohtingPoint
Posted: Sep 14 2009, 02:16 PM


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QUOTE (cmspaz @ 2 hours, 2 minutes ago)
The only class street tires are really viable in are the stock classes

Not entirely. R-Compounds dont start until the 140 treadwear area. Street Touring, which is very far from stock, has street tires as one of its requirements.

On the topic of running in SM as a new driver, not only are you going to get murdered in times within class, but you'll also get slaughtered in PAX (OP, iit's easier if you look it up rather than have me explain PAX).

With how your car is now, running for fun is about all you can really do. Even if Prost himself drove your car, he wouldn't come close to being competitive due to what class you'll be in. Run now in SM, dont worry about competing, learn how to drive, then figure out what you want to do at the end of next season when you see how your growth has progressed.
BananaSplit
Posted: Sep 14 2009, 09:54 PM


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Good thread. I almost started one myself since I'm potentially going to my first autox event next weekend. Good information in here.
BananaSplit
Posted: Sep 26 2009, 12:29 PM


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Woo. Autocross event tomorrow in Fontana, CA. Going with a friend of mine. Can't wait for my first taste of motorsporting. Probably getting bumped into ST because of my intake. Other than that, it's a bone stock Civic Si. Hopefully it'll be a positive experience tomorrow so I can start getting a little more serious.
vash169
Posted: Sep 28 2009, 07:22 AM


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-2nd gear is your best friend. Generally you don't see 3rd at an autocross unless you're shift-happy.

-Always look where you want to go, not just straight ahead. If you look where you want to go, that's where you'll go.

-Don't turn the wheel too much! You'll know when you have because your car starts shuddering really hard and loud. It's like super-understeer and all cars (FF, FR, etc) are susceptible to it. Turn the wheel back and let off the gas a bit until it stops.

-Always remember the gas pedal isn't an on/off switch. A car will turn tighter with less throttle, and go faster than with no throttle.

-Don't worry about hurting your car, because you won't. Cones won't even scratch the paint on your bumper, and hammering down a chicane at 5000rpm won't kill your engine.
Spaz
Posted: Sep 28 2009, 02:49 PM


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Cones might not hurt your car, but they can leave some pretty hardcore scuffs on them:

user posted image

It's under the side marker, and it took quite a few car washes to get it completely off.
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BananaSplit
Posted: Sep 29 2009, 07:51 PM


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Wow. That was incredibly fun. The course layout was nice too. I learned a ton of stuff in just a couple runs. I definitely was at the bottom of the charts when I first started, but by the end of it, I shaved a good 10+ seconds off my time by my last run.

I want some stickies. My stock all-seasons cry every time I take a turn. Also, it makes me want to start to mess with the suspension a bit. I was understeering up the yin-yang. Definitely going to the next event next month.
Spaz
Posted: Sep 29 2009, 08:45 PM


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QUOTE (BananaSplit @ 51 minutes, 9 seconds ago)
Wow.  That was incredibly fun.  The course layout was nice too.  I learned a ton of stuff in just a couple runs.  I definitely was at the bottom of the charts when I first started, but by the end of it, I shaved a good 10+ seconds off my time by my last run. 

I want some stickies.  My stock all-seasons cry every time I take a turn.  Also, it makes me want to start to mess with the suspension a bit.  I was understeering up the yin-yang.  Definitely going to the next event next month.

Glad to hear you liked it!

Don't mess with your suspension until you get some decently sticky tires, just learn to control the understeer in the meantime, you'll learn a lot better throttle control that way. Trust me, I know first hand.

After that, upgrade the rubber and do a few events with a still stock suspension, you'll notice that the handling characteristic will have changed by a fairly noticeable amount. My car went from plowing over 1/3 throttle in the corners to sticking until WOT, where it would start to oversteer slightly, just by adding an inch of mildly stickier rubber (still all-season) at each corner. I can't wait for next year, when I go for some hardcore summer tires. apxrock.gif
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sideways
Posted: Sep 29 2009, 08:56 PM


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Concur with that. Call me silly but i like the notion of learning on tires with less grip, Ive seen a handfull of people who look pretty damn good simply becuase theyve got awesome tires, but couldnt really drive their way out of a paper bag. It can hide a lot of little mistakes that youd otherwise miss unless you know what youre looking for.
BananaSplit
Posted: Sep 30 2009, 12:01 AM


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Do you guys have any suggestions for "decently sticky" tires that fall in the "affordable" range? I think I'm about to pick up a set of 5zigen FN01R-C's, for a good 2 bills. Could possibly be dedicated AutoX wheels because they're fairly light. Specs are 17x7 so I guess I'm looking for any affordable, somewhat sticky tires that come in 215's.

This post has been edited by BananaSplit on Sep 30 2009, 12:02 AM
Fast
Posted: Sep 30 2009, 12:41 AM


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Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Specs are awesome tires for the money (arguably equal to or better than Bridgestone RE01rs or RE11s). I also hear good things about Sumitomo HTR ZIIIs, they are even cheaper than the Star Specs.

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