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Advice for a First Time Autocross event...
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Thread: Advice for a First Time Autocross event...

  1. #1

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    Advice for a First Time Autocross event...

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    I am doing my first Autocross event on Saturday. SOLO Driving School.

    I have driven on a track a few times in my past, and I drive very fast every year at the Nevada Open Road Challenge, so the driving part will not be totally foreign to me. In fact, I think I will have fewer butterflies while actually driving than I will the rest of the day.

    I have done a lot of research and I think I am pretty well prepared, but for those of you who have done this before, what would you (or do you) say to a first timer? What would you suggest I NOT forget to bring with me?

    Any bit of advice is welcomed. Thanks.

    I bought a tub to put my "race day stuff" in so I can keep it all in one place, not forget anything, and at the track I can simply take that tub out of my car without having loose stuff all over the parking lot. Currently the bucket has the following:
    • Helmet
    • Gloves
    • Broad Rimmed hat
    • Sunscreen
    • Bug Spray
    • Tire Pressure Gauge
    • Eken Camera (think "GoPro"), window mount, extra battery


    What are your "Must Haves" when you Autocross?

    OH. And what tire pressure do you run? I have stock 16s with the stock Continental Contitact Pro tires.
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  3. #2
    Robert Nixon's Avatar
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    Sounds like you are going to have a lot of fun, and since you've done other driving events, you have nothing to worry about!

    I'd add drinks and food to my list, and if you need numbers for this event, then painter's tape is fine. There are also websites that have numbers you can print out and then tape on.
    Along with the tire pressure gauge I always take my air pump, even the cheap ones like what came with the Abarth will work.

    I've been going with 41 front and 31 rear for the most part this year, that has been putting my tire wear right down on the wear bar (triangles) on my Bridgestones. You can go higher in the back to help rotate the car more if you like, I imagine every tire combo is a bit different.

    Other than the "school" part, if they set up a course and let you walk it ahead of time, that's a very important part of a competitive event, maybe that won't really be a part of your day, although I bet they walk the course with you before you drive it.

    Ask lots of questions, have fun!
    2013 Rosso Abarth with 68K miles, Koni yellow shocks, Madness springs, Neu-f rear sway bar, EBC Yellowstuff brake pads, DOT4 brake fluid, K&N air filter, autocross 17 inch Ciao Milano wheels with Bridgestone Potenza RE71R, daily wheels stock 16 inch Dunlop DZ102. 2017 1st place HS Tidewater Sports Car Club: 2016-2015 1st Place TSCC GS class; 2014-2013: 2nd place in SCCA South Carolina Region G Stock.
    My Car blog: http://www.nms-racing.net/

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    Senior Member MemoryFoam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Nixon View Post
    Sounds like you are going to have a lot of fun, and since you've done other driving events, you have nothing to worry about!

    Other than the "school" part, if they set up a course and let you walk it ahead of time, that's a very important part of a competitive event, maybe that won't really be a part of your day, although I bet they walk the course with you before you drive it.

    Ask lots of questions, have fun!
    Get there early and ALWAYS WALK THE COURSE! Not only will you see things you won't see from the driver's seat, but you can plan how you'll attack each section.

    Also, back in the day when I was going to Corvette events, I'd volunteer to be a "cone" worker resetting knocked down cones between my runs. It was usually appreciated and was a great way to see up close how other drivers - both good and bad - handled the tough spots.
    2013 Grigio Abarth "Abby" (bought 3/2013)
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    Quote Originally Posted by SVAGO 1 View Post
    I am doing my first Autocross event on Saturday. SOLO Driving School.

    I have driven on a track a few times in my past, and I drive very fast every year at the Nevada Open Road Challenge, so the driving part will not be totally foreign to me. In fact, I think I will have fewer butterflies while actually driving than I will the rest of the day.

    I have done a lot of research and I think I am pretty well prepared, but for those of you who have done this before, what would you (or do you) say to a first timer? What would you suggest I NOT forget to bring with me?

    Any bit of advice is welcomed. Thanks.

    I bought a tub to put my "race day stuff" in so I can keep it all in one place, not forget anything, and at the track I can simply take that tub out of my car without having loose stuff all over the parking lot. Currently the bucket has the following:
    • Helmet
    • Gloves
    • Broad Rimmed hat
    • Sunscreen
    • Bug Spray
    • Tire Pressure Gauge
    • Eken Camera (think "GoPro"), window mount, extra battery


    What are your "Must Haves" when you Autocross?

    OH. And what tire pressure do you run? I have stock 16s with the stock Continental Contitact Pro tires.
    You are going to get hooked!! and with your driving experience you should be fine. for me; everytime I get to the start line in my first runs, I get really nervous and excited at the same time, but once you set off you forget everything.

    just a heads up, your first run, if it is a normal layout, you might setoff your windshield wipers by mistake, maybe your blinkers, or the Bluetooth voice command...it is totally normal.

    I witnessed a driving school last time I went autocrossing; they didn't have a regular layout for them, instead they had a small kind of an oval shape course, so that they can teach you when and how to break for the corners and stuff like that. but maybe the one you are going to is different.

    your list seems almost complete. like Robert said if you need numbers, they will probably print some for you over there, but take some blue tape with you, in my region they take your driver license as collateral for the tape if you want to use it lol. then if you want magnetic numbers and class letters, I would suggest SPS, they have great deals, I just got mine for $45 shipped.

    it is very easy to forget things so making a list is very smart (I keep a bag just for my autocross stuff ready).
    -torque wrench goes without saying, so that you can check and tighten bolts between runs.
    -later on you can add a plastic tank sprayer, to spray the wheels when they get hot and greasy, especially after your third run on a hot day.
    -a picnic chair comes handy between heats.
    -GoPro is great, extra battery is a must, but more importantly make sure they are charged...trust me I know.
    - I am not sure what is the grade of your tires, but if it is anything more than 300 then I suggest around 46 to 48psi upfront and 32 in the back, that is what I used to use with my G-force Comp 2

    Good luck and have fun. if you have anymore questions let us know.
    2015 Abarth Rosso.
    NEU-F lowering springs / NEU-F torsion bar.

  6. #5
    Member PorcoRosso's Avatar
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    All great advice from everyone here. One other thing to bring is chalk. I use those big school yard chalk buckets.

    You're getting some mixed numbers for your tire's air pressure. As everyone's driving style and tires are different, using chalk is a nifty trick to hone into the optimal tire pressure you should be driving at. Fill your tires up--you can always let pressure out. Given you're running Conti's fill them up to about 45-48 in the front, 35-38 in the rear. Then between the treads and sidewall, mark a few sections with the chalk. I usually make 4 equidistant marks around each tire about an inch or two wide. After a serious run you'll see the chalk begin to fade away. What you're looking for is the chalk to wear away down to where the sidewall meets your treads (usually marked by a triangle on the sidewall). This is telling you where your tire "rolls over" in harder turns and that you're using the maximum surface area of your tire. So start letting tire pressure out after a few runs until the chalk disappears to that triangle and then you'll know what pressure to be running at.

    Other tips include, slow in, fast out. As you probably know from your track days, FWD does one thing great, two things terribly (like braking and turning or accelerating and turning). Try to remember to go fast when your wheels are straight, brake before turns while your wheels are straight and don't be afraid to brake very hard before turns--she can handle it. If you find yourself understeering, just lift and regain control of your car. And to add to Maystro's comment regarding a torque wrench, the 16's torque spec is 75 ft lbs.

    Last but not least, remember to laugh to yourself after each run, because in the end it's all about having fun and a good time! Good luck!! Let us know how it goes!
    2012 Abarth Grigio - TWM Shifter, Neu-f Torque Arm Insert, El Gatos Chassis Braces, Neu-f Front Sway Bar & Rear Torsion Bar, GFB DV+

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  8. #6

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    Thanks Guys for the inputs! I am ready. I made a change to the car. I added coilovers and dropped it about 1.75 inches. Man did that make some differences! Some good, some "meh". I can't wait until the morning to put her to the test.

    I like to go to driving events with a clean car, but it has been raining all day, so she may not be "pretty". I do have some McGuire's waterless car wash, so I may give her a once over once I get there, but I'll only do that if I arrive so early I am one of the few people there, but I did toss into my tub so I have the option.

    And yes Maystro, I WILL get hooked. I have wanted to do something like this for many years, but with family obligations my cars have for the past 22 years always had four doors and were hardly "fun" to drive. Now that my family obligations have changed, I can finally have fun with a car again.

    I'll upload some pictures and videos tomorrow (or maybe Sunday...)
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  9. #7
    Robert Nixon's Avatar
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    Have fun!
    2013 Rosso Abarth with 68K miles, Koni yellow shocks, Madness springs, Neu-f rear sway bar, EBC Yellowstuff brake pads, DOT4 brake fluid, K&N air filter, autocross 17 inch Ciao Milano wheels with Bridgestone Potenza RE71R, daily wheels stock 16 inch Dunlop DZ102. 2017 1st place HS Tidewater Sports Car Club: 2016-2015 1st Place TSCC GS class; 2014-2013: 2nd place in SCCA South Carolina Region G Stock.
    My Car blog: http://www.nms-racing.net/

  10. #8

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    I am hooked. I will most definitely be back. I had a blast. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn on my camera the first several runs, then I turned it on and off and on and off and I missed filming half my runs, including my fastest run of the day. Next time I am just going to start it at the beginning of the morning session and just leave it run the entire time for each session. I have an extra battery, so I can do the same in the afternoon and then I can simply edit the files down.

    I worked during the first hour, so I got to see how some of the better guys handled various parts of the track, and I figured out that the best guys I was seeing were running 39 & 40 second laps. These were primarily the cars you would expect to run well, Miatas, FRZs, BRSs, and Shai in his Abarth on my clock was in the low 40s to 41s. So, after seeing them run, my goal was 41 seconds. Remember, I don't have the Abarth, so, no turbo and by far the fewest HP on the lot.

    My first run was intentionally slow, my primary goal was to see the track from the driver's seat, and I turned the lap in 46.654. I then ran in the 44s for about 7 laps with one 43.886 mixed in the middle there. My afternoon times started at 43.142, then 42.802, then I had a lap that I am ignoring because a track worker set a slalom cone the wrong direction and that really threw me for a loop, and I backed way off the throttle as I did not want to run over a cone! Then I ran a 42.875 and finished the day with a 41.862. I really wanted to break the 41 barrier and had I gone back Sunday, I am sure I would have, but I couldn't so that was my best time 41.862.

    Based on Sunday's results, that would have put me at about 60% had I competed for points. All things considered, I was very happy with my times. I know if I had more horsepower I could have done better, and there were a few things I could have done better as a driver. I kept finding speed and correcting errors, but on every lap I also made errors. If I could have put together a completely error free lap and gotten every ounce of power out of my car, I think I could have run in the 39s.

    Here's a picture of the car after a day of Autocrossing... I'll post video soon. My video editor does not accept MOV files and that is what my camera produces apparently so I have to find a new video editor that won't break the bank.



    And a photo of My 500 Sport and Shai's Abarth.



    Thanks for ALL the advice!! I really appreciated all of it. I was thoroughly prepared thanks to all your suggestions!
    My Build Thread

    Fiat 500 Sport Mods
    • MADNESS - Go Pedal, Short Shift Adapter, 16mm Spacers (all around), Carbon Fiber Front Brace, V-Maxx Coilovers
    • CORZA FORZA - Lower Cross Brace, Vertical Chassis Braces
    • OTHER - Draw-Tite Bike Rack Hitch, Window Tinting, Racing Stripes, LED Lights, WeatherTech Floor Mats, Carbon Fiber Shift knob, Fumoto Oil Drain Plug

  11. #9
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    Glad you enjoyed it!
    Man your 500 looks sportier than the Abarth lol. What coilovers are you using?
    2015 Abarth Rosso.
    NEU-F lowering springs / NEU-F torsion bar.

  12. #10
    Robert Nixon's Avatar
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    Great job, you lowered your time by a huge amount, and that's what makes it fun!
    2013 Rosso Abarth with 68K miles, Koni yellow shocks, Madness springs, Neu-f rear sway bar, EBC Yellowstuff brake pads, DOT4 brake fluid, K&N air filter, autocross 17 inch Ciao Milano wheels with Bridgestone Potenza RE71R, daily wheels stock 16 inch Dunlop DZ102. 2017 1st place HS Tidewater Sports Car Club: 2016-2015 1st Place TSCC GS class; 2014-2013: 2nd place in SCCA South Carolina Region G Stock.
    My Car blog: http://www.nms-racing.net/

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