This 'AutoX FAQ' that I drafted for another forum was well recieved so I thought I'd post it here as well.
Iíve seen a few threads and posts inquiring about how to get into AutoX, and I thought that maybe a dedicated thread just for those who havenít participated in one, might be helpful.
If you donít know what AutoX is, Wikipedia has a very accurate description
Autocross - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Iíve also compiled some FAQís that may be helpful.
Items to bring
ē Comfortable shoes that you can run in.
ē Water, food, snacks, lunch, etc.
ē Rain gear
Preparing your car
ē You do not need any modifications for your car. You are going to be really slow for your first few events, and moderately slow for at least your first season. So donít spend money on your car thinking itís going to make you faster, or make this experience any better, it isnít.
ē Tech inspection. Your car will be inspected for safety at the beginning of each event.
ē You must remove: all loose objects (iPods, cellphones, coffee cups, speaker boxes, inflatable sheep, floor mats, jacks, etc.) If you can move it, itís got to come out. So donít show up with a car that is a total mess, clean it out the night before.
ē Your battery must be secured in the engine bay. Bungee chords and rope are not going to cut it.
ē Tires cannot have any dangerous wear (chords showing). Make sure your lugs are torqued properly.
ē If you have a helmet, bring it to tech with you. They will probably want to check that it has the proper M or SA rating. Check with your club to see what their requirements are. If you do not have a helmet, many clubs have loaner helmets, check with the club. Donít ask a stranger to borrow their helmet (coodies).
ē Make sure all your fluids are within their limits. If you are low on brake fluid or power steering fluid you wonít pass tech. If your car is leaking fluids you wonít pass tech. If you are low on coolant you wonít pass tech. If you are low on oil, they probably wonít check that, but you should top that off too.
ē Make sure you have painters tape to apply numbers and class letter to your car. Use painters/masking tape- you wonít be happy when you go to remove your numbers if youíve used duct tape. Iíve seen painters/masking tape in 3 colors: Blue, Off-White, and Green. If you have a Blue car, donít get Blue tape. If you have a White car, donít get Off-White tape. The numbers have to be visible. SCCA rules require numbers to be 8 inches tall, and class letters to be 4 inches tall. Now, if you want some magnetic numbers on the cheap, head down to home depot and in the HVAC isle, they sell magnetic sheets that are designed to go over a central air vent in a house. They come 3 to a pack and cost $5 a pack. Buy 2 or 3 packs and cut out some numbers and letters. I wouldnít recommend this for your first event though because a regular at the club may regularly use the number you have chosen. The magnetic material is not as good as real magnetic numbers, but it works.
ē Air up your tires before you get to the site. Iíd recommend 40psi so that you are not driving on your sidewalls during your run. Youíre new, so you really donít need to worry about tweaking the air in your tires; you just want to keep from destroying them.
When you arrive at the site
ē Find a spot in the Paddock (pits/parking area) that is open. Donít park 12 inches from someoneís car. They may have to change wheels/tires and space it important.
ē Drive slowly anywhere on site. If you are not on course, your car should be moving at a brisk walking pace.
ē Go through your clubs proper registration procedures. I know that a lot of clubs have online pre-registration. So if possible, take advantage of that. It saves you and the club a lot of time and sometimes you even get a reduced rate.
ē I know a lot of clubs ask to see a valid driverís license, so be prepared. If itís expired, you are out of luck. Furthermore, itís likely a requirement for the clubs insurance policy that all participants be licensed drivers, so donít expect any leeway here. Some clubs do allow participants to possess only a learnerís permit.
ē That brings us to the next issue. If you are under 18 years old, check with your club to see if you can participate. Rules vary from club to club. In some cases you must have a parent or guardian present. In some cases you must have a waiver signed by both parents or guardians in the presence of a board member of the club. Sometimes you can have it signed by both parents and notarized and bring it with you. Check with your club.
ē You need to know what class you will be running. Your class is determined by many things: make and model, tire type, tire size, modifications. If you are unsure of your class, ask someone before you get to the registration, and they will probably be able to help you figure it out. Donít be surprised when you realize that you are in the same class as a 450hp Evo with $3000 coilovers, huge sticky tires, and all you have is a carbon fiber hood. I know it seems a bit unfair now, but rules are rules and they arenít going to change. Donít get discouraged by this. If there is a novice, rookie, or first timers sub-class at your club, take advantage of it.
ē Walk the course. Walk it as many times as you can. Follow other people that seem to know what theyíre doing. Keep in mind that others are trying to concentrate and memorize the course (as you should be) so donít be talking loudly, or asking lots of questions to others walking the course. At most clubs they offer a guided walk through for newcomers. This is usually led by someone experienced who will explain what you should be doing on course. Take advantage of this.
ē Just before the first runs begin, there is usually a drivers meeting. Get to the drivers meeting on time, be silent, and pay attention. There are quite a few important things that are discussed at the drivers meeting that are vital to running a smooth event and in regards to safety.
Time to RUN!
ē Your club may run heats, they may use a flagging system, or they may have a run order based on class or number to determine when its time for you to take your run. Pay attention and find out how this works. If you are unsure of when you should be running, ask someone. Do not run out of order.
ē Take an instructor on your first run if your club allows this. The instructor is a volunteer and a participant just like you, so be courteous and listen.
ē Go slow on your first run. You arenít going to set any records, and it will be a victory if you can just stay on course.
ē Pull up to the starting line and wait until the starter tells you itís safe to go. When he tells you to go, you can leave the line when you are ready.
ē If at any point you see a red flag on course, or people yelling for you to stop: stop. When they tell you to go again: go.
ē When you come to the finish, as soon as you get through the timing light, slow down in a safe manner and continue either back to the grid or your paddock (depending on how your club runs things) at a brisk walking pace. Do not stop and wait just over the finish gate. There will be someone else coming through there in a few seconds.
ē Most, if not all clubs require you to perform some sort of work duties during the day. Everyone works, there are no exceptions. You may have been given a work assignment at registration. Sometimes you work when your Ďheatí isnít running. Clubs handle work assignments differently. You need to know when your work assignment is and you need to be there for it on time. If you are late, that means that someone else who has been working while you were diving is waiting to be relieved. Be on time.
ē There are many work assignments. Youíll probably be chasing cones (picking up cones that cars knock over). If you stick with this sport, youíll probably have the opportunity to try out all the jobs. But you do not always have a choice in what your work assignment will be.
ē You cannot use a cellphone while you are working, driving, or if you are anywhere close the course. Iíd recommend leaving it in your car when you go to your work assignment.
Iíve only been autocrossing since 2008, but in that time I have never seen a greater group of friendly people than those at and AutoX event. Iíve run with several different clubs throughout New England and the quality of people is always the same. Say "Hello", say "Nice car", say "Wow! Great run", say "Hi, I'm so and so and I'm new" and people will probably latch on to you and show you the ropes. Donít be afraid to ask questions. We were all new to this sport at one point and we know how challenging it can be in the beginning. Furthermore, most of us are driven to help the newcomers because these clubs and this sport will die without new blood.
Iím sure I can speak for everyone when I say we all hope to see some new faces out there!
There are plenty of people on this forum, including myself, that would be happy to answer any questions. I encourage questions to be asked in this thread rather than via PM so that others may benefit from the dialogue.
If anyone has anything that theyíd like to add to this FAQ, please post it up.