Track Time

The Fastest 35 MPH Ever — Autocross

Welcome to an environment where petty automotive differences are put aside and focus is tightened down to one aspect; the driver. Autocross has and will always be the go-to source for personal automotive indulgence and skill honing. Considering the overall cost of entry and minimal wear and tear of the vehicle, autocross is the automotive sport for the layman as well as The Stig.

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A common scene shown here. All walks of automotive culture assembling for tech inspection. Cameras at the ready to capture every moment of what will be a pure adrenaline inducing experience in paradoxically one of the safest environments. Autocross, while sanctioned by various regional Sports Car Club of America groups (Gulf Coast SCCA shown here), is the definitive method of learning your car’s limits while simultaneously developing potentially life saving skills.

Snap oversteer, ABS, understeer, navigating different radii and camber turns. These are very common variables that are typically not so commonly driver-intended. But given the seat time and expansive track space to experience these conditions, drivers will in time come to terms with their car and understand what is most important in regards to driving and modification — the driver and it’s inputs.

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Maximum grip and control is the end-state in this automotive world with a short lap time being the byproduct. High horsepower and torque may lead one to victory, but a disciplined foot and obedient chassis are the real variables to success here. Take note of this scene. It is a short wheel base car that is trail-braking into a corner with a tire capable of gluing the car to the surface, like hook-pile tape, during a tight apex corner and it has just enough chassis flex to allow the tires to work while not lifting it’s passenger rear wheel off the ground thus costing it grip. This is autocross. Maximum grip — maximum vehicle control.

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Vehicle modifications are a great driving force in what makes car people, car people. In autocross the driver modifications tend to shine more that a new set of coilovers or an exhaust system. This particular car creates frequent fastest times of the day at a given event in it’s stock form. The driver, simply put, can drive.

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Ultimately it’s not about being the fastest nor the best, unless we’re talking about national level SCCA events. No, at the purest of grassroots level, it’s entirely about the drive. It’s about pitching your car into the corner, hearing the tires chirp for grip, modulating the throttle so as to not induce an off-course scenario, and crossing the line, eyes fixed on the timer begging for a number smaller than the last.

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It is in that moment that we begin to yearn for more. We begin conversing with every other gear head. The RWD driver, the import driver, the muscle car driver, the AWD driver, the turbocharged driver, the FWD driver, the go-kart driver, the Prius driver; everyone! Maybe not the Prius driver…

But we all come together for the greater good, the greater drive, and the greater modification. The driver modification. For 71 years the SCCA has been sanctioning these events. If your only experience in autocross is this article, then it’s time to sign up for the next event. Contact your regional SCCA or other automotive sanctioning body e.g. Porsche Club of America (PCA), BWMCCA, National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and bring whatever road-worthy vehicle you have available.

Check your tires.

Without Words:

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