Autocross is open to just about anyone with a helmet and a car. Aimed at all those autocross drivers who race the cars they drive every day, this thorough and easy-to-follow handbook covers everything from choosing the best class and car for competing to tuning, modifying, and racing that car. Richard Newton, an ASE-certified Master Technician, talks in a reader-friendly fashion about what can be done, why it should be done, and what might need to be altered when conditions change. He discusses the rule book and driving techniques used in autocross events.Featuring helpful full-color illustrations, this guide covers all engine/drivetrain combinations, and focuses on car subsystems, including engine, suspension, wheels and tires, and brakes, among others.The book includes drawings of course set-ups, as well as a complete reference appendix.
About the Author
Richard Newton is an ASE-certified Master Technician who spent 15 years in the automotive service industry before becoming an automotive magazine editor and freelance writer. He has written five books to date, including Corvette C5 Performance Projects, 101 Projects for Your Corvette and Ultimate Garage Handbook. Newton lives in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Section I Autocross Events
Your First Event
When You Arrive
Once the Event Starts
The Course Walk
High Speed Autocross
High-Speed Events and Track Days
Licensing for High-Speed Autocross
Typical Event Format
Section II Classes and Choices
Some Class Strategies
Buy a Winning Car
Pick a Class for Winning
Forget About this Class Nonsense
The SCCA Classes
Street Touring Category
Street Prepared Category
Street Modified Category
How Fast Are the Classes?
The BMW Classing System
Porsche Club of America Classification
Section III Tuning and Modification
Adjusting Your Shocks
Section IV Driving Your Car
Five Basic Rules
The Basics of Driving
Proper Seating Position
Heel and Toe
The Circle of Traction
Finding the Line
The Basic 90-Degree Turn
The Late Apex Turn
Decreasing Radius Turns
Putting It All Together
Linking the Turns
How Much Traction Do I Have?
How Much Power Do I Have?
How Fast Is This Turn?
Is My Car’s Handling Really Neutral?
Do I Like to Slide My Car?
Back to the Basics
Set the Suspension During Braking
Beginning the Turn
Always Hit the Apex
Always Look for the Next Apex
Driving Is Important
Section V Glossary
A Few Final Things to Remember
Comparison of SCCA Permitted Modifications
Basic Cone Arrangements
What People are Saying About This
SportsCar Magazine, September 2007
“Author and autocross addict Richard Newton has covered every aspect of autocross from car and class selection to setup and driving.”
“This book should be in every autocrosser’s passenger seat. If you are an autocrosser you need this book” – Blau Rain
“The experiences autocrosser will certainly be inspired by all the trick setups shown in the illustrations. But the meat is in the detailed descriptions, explanations and suggestions made in the body of the text.” –Bruce Herrington, Unsere Gedanken
“Written for the beginning autocrosser, this book is 160, very readable, pages long. The experienced autocrosser will certainly be inspired by all of the trick setups shown in the illustrations. But the meat is in the detailed descriptions, explanations and suggestions made in the body of the text.” Bruce Herrington, Unsere Gedanken
Autocrossing is low-budget automotive competition at the most intense level. No other form of motorsport is quite as intense as autocross. The only comparison is a qualifying lap at a place like Indy or Daytona. It's one car at a time flat out. There's no holding back at an autocross. You have to be aggressive to be a winner. Most importantly, though, you have to use that aggression in a highly skilled manner.
The best part is that any car is eligible. Hell, I had a friend who used to autocross his Suburban. I think he had more fun than almost anyone else at the events. If it's a vehicle, and you have a driver's license, you can participate. Some people have even learned how to drive their cars better by participating in autocross events. The one thing about autocross events is that driving skill will always beat expensive modifications. That's why autocrossing is fun.
Every car club I know of has an autocross schedule. You don't have to drive all day to find a racetrack. Clubs only need to find a big parking lot (and a cooperative parking lot owner) to stage an event. Oh, the club will also need about a hundred orange traffic cones.
The other point to consider is that while anyonewith any sort of car can participate, you can also carry your autocross activities to very intense levels. There are national events where the most fanatical (and best) autocross drivers meet every year. The good part is that it's still all about driving skill.
I remember one year GM brought a 48 of various GM products and a whole engineering team. They got smoked by a bunch of weekend hobbyists. All of the GM engineering in the world couldn't make up for driving skill, or lack of it.
I've been running autocross events for a number of decades. Every few years I walk away, only to be sucked back into the competition. It's nice to go for a Sunday drive at Sebring or Summit Point, but the intensity is lacking. You can drive around the track for several hours and never go as hard as you go in an autocross.
Once you start to get involved, you're going to spend a lot more time thinking about your car. What you really want to do is think a lot about your driving. Forget about changes to your car during the early stages of this hobby. Buying more things will never get you the little plaques. Learn to drive what you have. Confront the harsh reality that you can always learn to be a better driver.
As I wrote this book, the phrase that often came to mind is "It takes a village." In the case of this book it literally took just such a village. Actually, autocross competition across the United States really is a village. I think when the tens of thousands of people across the country who participate in autocross are added up, there are only about three degrees of separation. Everyone knows someone who knows someone. That may be what makes it so much fun. We're just one giant family.
I couldn't have written this book without a whole bunch of help from this family. Several decades of competing and writing about autocross only provided me with a start. It took many other people to get this book across the finish line. A big thank you to the following people:
Kent Weaver, Bill Wagner, Ken Buck, Mark Shaw, Burt Foschini, Rick Kase, Steve Schmidt, Bruce Kosakoski, Geoffrey Bartelmes, Bob Tunnell, Chuck Garcia, Chris Shenefield, Lynn Combs, Jeff Harmon, David Leong, Gail deLeon, Don Johnson, Jon Payne, David Wilson, David Schnoerr, Mark Pilson, Ernie Anderson, Rita Wilsey, Peter Varga, Danny Shields, Greg Kovacs, John Guarnera, James Ink, Bill Headlee, Jason Hull, Jerry Wilcox, Julias Ashley, James Flaumenbaun, Mike Turner, Sam Cosmano, Tom Kubo, Larry Dennstedt, Mike Contour, Bob Haugland, Jack Matthews, Dennis Hale, David Siegler, Steven Rankins, Russ Baumeister, Tim Reardon, Jeff Yeattes, Dave Whitworth, Joe McCormick, Soren Loree, Dave Harriman, Byron Nemy, Fred Turner, Chang Ho Kim, Steve Burger, Steve Landstria. And a special thanks to Tom Gauthier who read several early versions of the book in an attempt to help me make sense with this book.
Then there were some special people who have helped me over the years such as Roger Johnson and Vern Lyle. I think Vern Lyle and I started out in autocross at roughly the same time. Vern was driving Porsches at the time and I was in a Fiat. The frustrating part was that I never even approached his level of driving. Then again, I never worked at it as hard as Vern did. The same with Roger Johnson. Both of these guys spent years developing their skills. Any number of us may have the actual skill, but none of us have polished and honed our skills to the level that Roger and Vern have.
If you're just starting in autocross, take some time and talk to the people who drive really well. Then try to emulate them. Not just the way they take a corner, but in the way they approach one of the most competitive automobile sports you'll ever find. Hopefully you'll also find a few good ideas in this book. Have fun.