Here is a blurb on autocross that I wrote for an internal wiki:
Autocrossing in the Puget Sound
What is autocross?
Autocrossing is a form of motorsport competition where participants individually run on a temporary course outlined by cones, usually in a parking lot or closed airfield. Each event has a different course layout, so participants must learn a new course every time. Autocrossing is a safe form of motorsport as speeds generally stay below normal highway speeds and cars do not interact on course.
Preparing for an event
- Make sure your car will pass the tech inspection:
- No leaks of any kind
- Battery is firmly in place with a tray
- Throttle return spring functional (Throttle by wire/drive by wire cars do not have that)
- Shocks/struts/wheels/wheel bearings in good shape
- Hubcaps or other loose items removed from wheels
- Tires with legal tread depth
- Unless your car is radically modified, these items will cover most issues.
- If you need anything for the drive, make sure that you have a container it can go in while at the autocross site. Large plastic totes are useful and water resistant.
- Drivers License
- Fees (in cash, and probably some extra for if you wanna grab a bite or something)
- Car numbers
- Sun block/umbrella/raincoat
- Air tank/compressor
- Air gauge
- Work gloves
- Cordless impact wrench
- Torque wrench
Overview of a typical autocross day
The typical autocross day actually starts the night before. J Review the “Preparing for an event” list to make sure that you have everything you need and everything your car needs. Double-check this in the morning; many of us live in the Seattle/Eastside area and it is frustrating to drive all the way out to Bremerton just to realize your helmet is now 70 miles away!
Morning registration normally starts at 7:30 AM and ends at 8:30 AM while afternoon registration starts at 11:30 AM and ends at 12:30 PM. Try to arrive at the site closer to the beginning of registration rather than end since there is a lot to do before the race can start:
1) Arrive at the site and find a suitable place to park. People usually want a bit of space around their car to work, so try to give room both on the sides and rear of neighboring cars. Make sure there is nothing (wheels, totes, etc) in a prospective parking space; this means someone has already claimed this parking space.
a. At Bremerton, people will line up on the left and right of the main strip leading up to the registration area.
b. At Everett, park in the parking lot where the registration area is.
2) With cash and license in hand, go to the registration area. It’s usually marked as such or just look for the line of people. If you pre-registered, they will ask your name, hand you your timing card and then you pay. Some events require having the rule book for whatever club is sponsoring. If you have one, bring it with you to registration, otherwise pay (usually $5-$20) for one at registration.
3) Either at the registration desk or near by, there will be another area for getting your work assignment. Depending on the number of people signed up for the event, it will be broken up into two or three run groups. You will be told which group you will run in and which group you will work in. If there is a third group, you won’t have any assignment for that time. Most novices will get to reset downed cones so you will be given a station. The course map will usually point out the location of each station.
4) Go back to your car and unload everything. Make sure your spare tire is either securely fastened or remove it as well.
5) Drive the car over to the marked tech area and either stop at the sign or pull in behind other cars. If you have a helmet, bring it with you. Turn off the car, pop the hood and open the trunk. The tech assistant will run through all of the tech inspection items, most of which are listed in “Preparing for an event”. If you pass, return to your parking space. If you fail, try to fix whatever the issue is and asked to be tech’d again. If you cannot pass, you cannot race.
6) After registration and tech, park your car and then approach the start of the course. Walk the course to familiarize yourself as well as to look out for trouble areas, such as off-camber turns and rough areas of pavement. Feel free to walk the course as many times as you like until the mandatory drivers meeting is called.
7) Attend the drivers meeting, where basic rules and persons involved in the event will be discussed. Once complete, you will either get in grid (if running first) or check in for your work assignment (if running second).
a. If you are running, get your car and any basic tools needed (air compressor and tire gauge are useful) and then pull into the grid area. There are normally multiple lanes of cars and if you are unsure which you should be in, ask anyone. You do not have to stay in your car once you are in grid, but make sure you are not in the way and that you are ready to race when it is your turn.
b. If you are working, check in is usually performed near where the drivers meeting is held. You should already know your assignment and location, but feel free to ask if you have forgotten. Each station will have an experienced worker so feel free to ask them any questions once you are at your station.
8) After each run, return to your grid location at a slow pace (10 MPH, normally). The total number of runs is normally announced soon after the first run group starts. Once you have run your full set, return to your parking space. If you ran first, don’t forget you still have a work assignment. Forgetting to work is automatic blacklisting from future events.
9) Once both the morning and afternoon sessions are complete, some groups will allow “fun runs”. These additional runs are timed but do not count toward standings and are usually $1 per run.
10) Some groups will have an after-event social.