QOTD: Autocrossing

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

qotd autocrossing

I head to Los Angeles today for a press drive that will include some autocrossing.

I, personally, am not a fast autocrosser. Sometimes I'm a bit too conservative, strategy-wise, and other times I push a little harder but I don't balance the car well enough to walk the fine line between being aggressive and sliding off course and killing cones -- and thus, one's time.

Still, I enjoy it.

My question, then, is to you folks -- do you enjoy autocrossing when you get the chance?

I like the low stakes -- if you mess up, there's little to hit other than cones. I like the ongoing lesson in car control. I like how slower-speed maneuvering can sometimes teach you more about a car's handling that driving hard on a track or back road.

But, as noted above, my times are often embarrassing. I'll let y'all in a secret -- after being among the slowpokes my last time out back in May, I googled for some tips on being faster.

I'd probably enjoy it more if I were faster, is what I am saying.

Your turn. If you get the chance to autocross, do you enjoy it?

Sound off below.

[Image: betto rodrigues/Shutterstock.com]

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6 of 16 comments
  • TassosSUCKS TassosSUCKS on Jul 19, 2023

    I’ve autocrossed pretty much everything I’ve owned that didn’t have a bed for years. It is fun however people do wreck (Jack Baruth chronicled a Fiesta ST rollover and I personally have seen a mini on its side). If you do, it’s not something your insurance is going to cover. And even if you don’t, you will break your car in some manner. Something to consider if you don’t have another vehicle to drive to work on Monday.

    also they are pretty risk averse. You can’t just run anything. I had to have a safety drive my 500e because it didn’t meet the rollover formula (he agreed the 600 pounds of battery in the floor negated the risk) but even then you are running only novice which is fine. But if you actually want to compete you’ll need a purpose built rig.

    Having said all that is is some of the most fun I’ve had behind the wheel and compared to other motor sorts pretty inexpensive, but that isn’t saying much

  • Wjtinfwb Wjtinfwb on Jul 19, 2023

    Ran my first Auto-X in 1978, in my bone stock VW Rabbit. There I learned that being a fast driver was harder than just mashing the gas and wringing the engine's (skinny) neck. After a few races I developed a knack for understanding the cone layouts and threshold braking and well as short shifting to keep the engine in it's meager torque band. Even ran the poor VW in a few SCCA Showroom Stock C events against small Fiat's, Corolla's, Datsun 510s and the occasional Pinto. Those events really took their toll on the poor VW, it took to burning a quart of GTX every 100 miles as the valve guides became more of a suggestion. A few years later I got a L78/WS6 Trans Am, bolted on some Koni shocks and Goodyear Wingfoot radials and ran it in every parking lot I could find. Super fun, the Pontiac had enough power to make it interesting, the super quick and precise steering made for faster transitions and the powerful brakes made the threshold braking even more exciting. I won every novice class event I entered then moved up to amateur, those drivers were way better and their cars much better sorted. I did OK but couldn't devote the time or money needed to improve. Super fun and I'm a much better driver overall for the experience.

    • Syke Syke on Jul 20, 2023

      Your autocross memories bring back a lot of wonderful thoughts for me.

  • VoGhost VoGhost on Jul 19, 2023

    Don't you need a Tesla to be competitive in autocross these days?

    • TassosSUCKS TassosSUCKS on Jul 20, 2023

      You would be in Super Street, the EV Class, or one of a few other classes that are prepared (read purpose built) cars. So best of luck

  • Syke Syke on Jul 20, 2023

    I used to. A lot. Fifty years ago I was running a 1973 Vega GT in SCCA B-sedan. Which in our region meant everyone raced for third after the BMW 2002 and 1600 that showed up for every competition. Had a good time for a few years until the inevitable Sunday that the two BMW's and a couple of other European cars (couple of Alfa's if I remember correctly) didn't show up . . . . . so at the end of the session at trophy giving time, the chapter announced that this would be a practice autocross, the points earning one would be in two weeks, and here's a cheap little trophy, now go home.

    The B-sedan podium that day was two Vegas and a Pinto, the remaining foreign cars were shut down pretty well. The three of us, with our cheap little trophies, weren't surprised in the slightest. Back then, Presque Isle Region SCCA really didn't like all that American crap sullying their events. They liked our entry fees but wished we'd stay home.