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HyundaiPerformance.com – Project X3 Accent
Introduction to Racing – SCCA Solo2 Competition (Autocross)
Written by Dave Dawson (skierd)



Occasionally, I’m sure some of you guys see me and some of the other people on this board posting about going autocrossing. About how much fun it is, parts that we’re getting or not getting due to “the rules”, and who we beat or how the winner/course conditions/alignment of the moon and planets with the third star to the left in cheated us from victory. I’m also fairly sure that most of you have no idea what the hell we are talking about. Hopefully by reading the answers to the following questions things will become much more clear.


1) What is it?

Autocrossing is the easiest and cheapest way to get into organized racing. “But what about drag racing?” you ask? Yes, you can hit up your local 1/4th or 1/8th mile track for test and tune night in just about anywhere in the country for $10-30, heads up “run what you brung” drag racing amongst friends isn’t exactly organized. Entry costs for bracket racing, which actually has classing, rules, purses, and trophies and is usually sanctioned by the NHRA, IHRA, etc, are typically greater than any local autocross fees. Besides, autocrossing is just more fun. :D

Ok, so what is autocrossing? Simply put, it is a road-racing type of event normally held on a large parking lot or small local airport. A temporary course is marked off by road cones and chalk on the lot ranging in length from 30seconds to nearly 2 minutes on some of the airport courses. Maximum speeds tends to be 40-50mph, with some of the larger airport courses getting upwards of 75mph in the fastest cars. Typically you’ll never leave second gear though, and certainly not third (if you spend any time there at all). Cars are run one at a time on the course and get to run alone, so no contact can occur between vehicles like in wheel to wheel racing (or drag racing for that matter, like when that chevelle that dusted you off of the line blows his rear axle at the 330ft mark and cuts across the center line…). Occasionally long courses will have two cars on course at a time, but there will have to be ample time between cars to leave a safety margin, typically half course.


-yours truly cooling off in the pits

2) Where do I go?

There are two major sanctioning bodies in the United States for road racing and autocrossing: the Sport Car Club of America (SCCA) and National Auto Sport Association (NASA). There are also several local organizations too in many parts of the country, that typically run modified SCCA rules. The SCCA is the larger, older, more organized, more recognized, and more rules oriented of the two, with several thick rule books that strictly regulate who and what will be racing with what modifications in what class. SCCA autocrosses are the most numerous and are the easiest to find, with events happening in nearly every part of the country. NASA Pro Racing is a fairly new organization which started about 15 years ago on the west coast and has since spread across the country, however most events are to be found in the active Mid Atlantic, NorthEast, Midwest, and California divisions. For information on local events, find your local region from the SCCA or NASA home pages (http://www.scca.com and http://www.nasaproracing.com respectively).


- forum member Gimp pushing hard

3) How do I prepare for an autocross?

First things first, make sure the car is in good mechanical condition. That means making sure you aren’t leaking any fluids (oil, coolant, etc), making sure the battery is securely fastened (i.e. like stock), checking/changing the brakes, changing the oil and making sure the coolant is fresh, checking tires for wear, etc. If everything checks out, you’re done until the night before race day.

The night before you’re event, get a few items together that will make everything easier. First off, make sure you have enough money to pay for the event and that you have directions to the site. It’s also a good idea to have a folding chair, a tire pressure gauge (maybe $1 at Autozone), an air pump ($15-25 for a plug-in one for the cigarette lighter, again from Autozone), sunscreen, umbrella or poncho, light jacket, a camera, a packed lunch, LOTS of water, a pen/pencil with paper, masking tape, and anything else you normally take with you when you’re going to be outside all day. You will also need a helmet, however most regions have loaners available. If not, any good Snell M2000 or newer rated motorcycle helmet will work fine. Try to have the car mostly packed the night before.



4) What happens at the event?

Get to the event early. Park somewhere out of the way, head over to the registration tent, sign in, and find out where Tech is. Go back to the car and take everything out that’s not held down by bolts, basically the floormats, trunk liner, jack, and spare tire. I usually bring a trash bag to hold my misc crap from the car to keep it all out of the elements. Now using the masking tape to make your car’s numbers and class letters (see what everyone else is doing and don’t be afraid to ask). Pull the air compressor and pressure gauge out and set the higher tire pressures (40spi front, 34psi rear to start) and roll the car over to the tech line to get checked out.

Now with the car teched, head over to the starting line and walk the course. This is the only practice you’re going to get on the course before the event, so try to learn the course now. If you hang around the start long enough, an older race should take pity and help you walk it but DON’T disturb someone who’s trying to concentrate. Eventually, you’ll hear the call for the Driver’s Meeting (and probably the Novice meeting either shortly before or after). Go to both and try to soak up as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the end, that’s the only way you’ll learn and trust me, people will be a LOT happier to be delayed now then in 2 hours when you’re lost on course or completely clueless where to exit or miss your work assignment, etc.


-our fearless site owner in action

At the Driver’s Meeting, you’ll most likely get your run heat(s) and work heat(s) assigned, typically by class. Hopefully you’ll get to work first, and observe how everything runs. You’ll probably be a course worker (i.e. cone chaser), and get to man a station on course and run after the cones the other autocrosses knock down. Watch the racing line they take and watch how they drive the course, and for God’s sake STAY OUT OF THE WAY OF CARS ON COURSE. It may not be the fastest sport in the world, but if you’re not paying attention a car on course can come up mighty quick.

When its your time to race, drive over to the Grid area and follow the instructions of the grid workers and start/finish worker. Go out and give it your best shot! Talk to people to get feedback, get a more experienced driver to drive your car (while you ride shotgun) to get an idea of how fast your car should be, and try to get better each run. After your heat is over, and you’ve worked the course, you can either leave or do the nice thing and help tear down the course, esp if you plan on coming back. The first time no one will notice, but a person who constantly leaves without doing their fair share is not a good competitor.


-Me in my old LC

Well, there you have it. Hope this helps clear up any confusion about Autocrossing and hopefully I’ll see a few more of you guys out cone dancin’ soon! If you’re near the Washington DC/Baltimore Metro area, I can be found racing my black 98 accent at most every event. If you’re out towards Las Vegas, Rob (4doorGL) can be found racing his 03 Tiburon. I think I can speak for everyone who autocrosses though when I say come out and race with us!



-hard on the brakes in Vegas

[Edited by skierd on Mar 27, 2005 10:18 PM]

[Edited by skierd on Mar 27, 2005 10:22 PM]
 

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Skierd,

Nice write-up. I'm getting very excited about the coming season too. maybe someday our paths with cross(and you can yell at me for switching to the dark side( /- ). See ya at Honda-tech :)

oh, and since pictures are soo fun.. here's a few elantra action shots



 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you're going to be in the Toledo Tour event in June, I'll see you there. :) What happened to the Elantra? No hard feelings about switching to a Honda, I've considered it myself as I figured I might as well build an FSP Civic then eventually turn it into a Honda Challenge car. Then I look at the bank...:nervous:
 

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a few things happened with the elantra....

these are all reasons that lead me to the desicion I made.....
1. I wasn't competetive. I raced it for 2.5 seasons, and was never able to break into the top 20-25%(6-10 places) of my region in STS. HS would have been a little better, but HS would have meant steping down. NWOR has VERY competetive HS and STS classes.

2. I let a buddy of mine race it at an away event. He had been the STS champ the last 2 years in his 92 Si, and had moved to EP with his 260Z and didn't want to drive it so far. I was really hoping that he would show me what I was doing wrong, and finish seconds ahead of me. Accordingly, I gave him complete setup control of the car. we had preped it the day before setting alignment, shocks, tire pressure, and sways. I beat him squarely by more than 1.5 seconds. I was very dissapointed. I know that it was my car and all, but still.. I wanted him to show me what I was doing wrong...

3. I raced that buddy's 92 Si at a final, "fun" event. we raced it in EP, becuase he had been racing his 260Z there for most of the season. The car had previously been the car to beat in STS, but had been ignored for more than a year.... there was at least one bad shock, and we were on 3 year old S03s..... Despite having NEVER drivin the car, I finished less than a second behind him, AND was able to finish in what would have been 4th place in STS. I was just .5 seconds behind STS class winner that day. I was amazed.

4. I needed to do somthing about my suspension. I was ripped off hardcore by KORE.. not that I am going to get into the details, but I was running on a spring rate that wasn't what I believed to be adaquate(and not what I ordered). But by the time I was able to get determine they were incorrect, and get arround to doing something about it I got the same response that everyone else got from DAN... I went ahead and got new springs on my own, and then was unable to get them installed due to mechanical issues with their coilovers. luckily I was able to send the springs back without penalty.

5. I was commuting about 75 miles a day, and the stiff suspension was wearing on me. Not only that, but my girlfriend refused to ride more than a few miles in it becuse it made her ill unless she was driving. We had to make several trips in her smaller car (92(?) SC2) and it was far from comfortable.

6. the increasing thought that something **might** happen to my only car, the car I depend on every day for lots and lots of miles, started to wear.

all of these things had me wanting to find a miata. yeah it's a chick car, but it's got nearly 50/50 weight dist., is rwd, is 2 seater convertable, has ENDLESS ammounts of info and parts available online, could road-race it, and was attainable for under 5 grand. so, in the mean time, I started racing, for fun, my other buddies 91 Si in HS. that car has a LOT of potential (in HS with the coopers and is a winner in STS).... I happened to mention something to another guy in grid that I enjoyed it so much, and he mentioned that his dad had one he wanted to get rid of. "How much", I asked...


500.00


I owned it 3 days later....


I haven't gotten to do much with it, cept make it autoXable. It will be my HS car this year while I move and deligate money to other places, and my STS or SM car in the future.


there you have it.

As for weather or not I will be at the Toledo tour, well, we'll have to see. I'd really like to be there, but it depends on my situation. I will be moving sometime between now and May 25th, to Cincinnati. All the events in my region this year are at the Airport, and that makes my pants tingly...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thats cool, the elantra is a bit of a pig for STS. I bet it could rock out in FSP though, if you could ever make it transition well. :devious:

And dont try to cover up the miata love for me, I owned a 00 miata all of last year and absolutely loved it (just not the payments). I would have jumped at an EF Si for $500 too.
 

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Good write up. Let me know if you need anything else for this. We can now get video :evil:
 

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Autocrossing FAQ part II – See the course and Learning to Drive

Ok, this part of the FAQ was translated from an AIM conversation between myself and my friend Paul (Gimp). Here’s two vids from the 4/17/2005 autocross at Fed Ex field, put on by the Washington DC region SCCA.

My second run:
http://www.paul-przyborski.com/hyundai/media/Dave_2nd_Run_4-17-05.wmv

Paul’s last run:
http://www.paul-przyborski.com/hyundai/media/4-17-05_DC_Run_4.wmv

New guys, watch the vids. That’s fairly representative of a National level autocross course. Our times were within a few tenths of each other, making the following comparison even better.

Coming into the event, Paul definitely has the better car while I have about 3 years of seat time more. I’m not saying I’m the greatest ever (far from it), but you can really see the difference between a new and experienced driver.

My setup:
Custom WAI
Custom 2.25” catback
Front and rear Whiteline Strut bars
Adjustable rear Whiteline sway bar, full stiff
KVR front pads and slotted rotors
PSC stainless braided brake lines
13x5.5 Enkei Panasport replicas
205-60-13 Hoosier RS303 race tires.
Scrothe Rallye 4pt harness
0 toe front, stock toe rear, stock camber

Paul’s setup:
Custom CAI
Custom cat-back
Front and Rear Evofusion strut bars
Ground Control coilovers with 350lb front/250lb rear springs
16x7 Kosei Racing Seneca wheels
205-40-16 ankook Ventus HRII
4pt harness
-1.8* Camber, 0* Toe in Front
-0.3* Camber, 1/8" Toe Out in Rear

As you can see, Pau’s car is much better set up than mine being lower, with wider wheels (ironically, my hoosiers are a good half inch wider than his hankooks). Also, for everyone getting ready to race, notice how neither of us are reaching for the steering wheel. You need to set the seat up so that with your arms extened but not locked forward, you can drape your wrists over the steering wheel. This gives you the maximum range of motion possible and stops one from being too far out of the “sweet spot” of body mechanics.

Now for the analysis. In general, Paul is over steering and turning in extremely late by comparison to me. Also, if you notice, I’m a lot smoother with the steering and throttle, though admittedly Paul’s car doesn’t rotate nearly as well as mine does thanks to the sway bar. As a note, those of you with the stock rear sway need to kinda toss the car around to get it to rotate (and it will) while those with a stiffer rear bar will have more than enough rotation as is (my car is basically neutral).

Getting a bit more in depth, watch the video from about 5 to 15 seconds, through the first sweeper. Paul’s hands are both on the far right of the wheel and he’s completely crossed over, meaning he has to swing his entire body around to set up for the next turn. Now watch my hands by comparison. Feeding the wheel from one hand to the other is a smoother way around the course as it leaves your body in position to maneuver and make steering adjustments. Its easy to practice this every day on the street and will soon become second nature. Also, when you start leaning over and having both hands at the far side of the wheel, its easy to start over steering (as in putting too much steering input in for the corner) and upset the car with violent steering action through transitions. You want to try to keep your hands at least 90 degrees and no more than 160 degrees apart because of this. Also, it only takes one hand to steer the car, even without power steering, so you use the hand in the direction to move the car with the opposite hand to both stabilize the wheel as well as prepare to steer back for the next corner.

From 15-25 seconds, the course comes back downhill through a short slalom and into a long left sweeper/hairpin. Paul came through the slalom swinging his body with the car and again was completely crossed up through the sweeper. Again, by comparison I kept my body relatively still and hands apart.

From 25-35 seconds, mostly it’s the uphill slalom where we both lost a lot of speed, as we both need to be on the throttle a LOT more than we were. Notice how Paul is swinging his whole body like it’s a dance, while I just moved my arms. Over the next few seconds of vids, again both of us need more throttle and again, I’m stable and Paul’s dancing. See a trend here? ;)

Now watching the last big fast downhill section, notice how much more and longer I’m on the throttle by comparison. Paul was fairly timid on the gas due to a lot of wheelspin from overinflated and well-aged tires, then blew the braking point coming into the finish, and basically cut the wheel hard left and plowed through the timing lights. I came WOT, tapped the brakes for the decreasing radius ending and turned smoothly… over a goddamn cone (hence my exclamation at the end of the vid lol work warning).

In the end, I ended besting Paul’s best run in a much less prepped car by .121 seconds on my first run (58.122 vs. 58.243) and 57.575 on the video’d run (damn that easily avoided cone :eek:gre: ). I hope that gives y’all an idea of what goes on during an autocross and how little changes in your driving can do for your finishing times.

Now I leave you with a quote:

GreySqrl80: wow, i hate how i drive... thanks dave
skierd007: lol


[Edited by skierd on May 2, 2005 7:48 PM]
 

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Ladies love a man who can dance. 8D

Skierd is giving a ton of great information there, and I was happy to drive like crap in order to illustrate his points. Anyone intersted in autocross should nab up these videos and play them back to back several times. It is a great comparison.
 

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Part III - When Things Go Wrong

Ok, with as safe as autocrossing is, its still racing and adds strain to the car/motor. Eventually, something will break on your car and you'll have to be pulled off for a mechanical tech inspection.

So when your car does this:


Do this: http://www.paul-przyborski.com/hyundai/media/Dave_3rd_Run_4-17-05.wmv

Around the slalom, I started spewing oil as shown in the above pic. First things first, SLOW DOWN BUT DO NOT STOP UNLESS THE CAR IS ON FIRE, WILL SOON BE ON FIRE, OR you wont make it to the finish due to a dead motor (in which case, get the hell out of the way). Why? Because 95% of the time, there's another car coming balls out in 15-20 seconds and he might not see his red flag to stop. Also, DO NOT LEAVE THE CAR (except for fire) untill the nearest course worker clears you. Try to restart the car if possible and get it off the course as quickly and safely as possible. If the problem clears up, finish the run as briskly as possible (like I did). If its fixable, you'll get a re-run due to mechanical failure usually unless the car went out in some spectacular fashion.

At the end, you'll get waived over by the Tech Marshall, like I did, and they'll help you pinpoint the problem. Hopefully its nothing major and can be fixed before the end of your heat so you can keep running. In my case, I had too much oil in the sump by about a quart, and was burning oil like a George Burns smoked cigars. With no way to empty the sump of the offending extra oil, my day was over.

Hope this never happens to y'all and keep it safe out there!
 

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Had to throw this picture up...

 
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