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Old 07-31-2004, 09:55 AM   #1
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Going to first autocross next weekend. Any advice?

There is going to be a car club holding a auto-X at the small local airport next weekend. I have decided to go and will probabbly end up competing. I know that some of you guys are experienced autocrossers so I was wondering if you could give me some sage advice. Wish me luck! Oh, right now I'm running 33/35psi in my tires. What do you guys run when you auto-x?

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Old 07-31-2004, 01:35 PM   #2
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Hi, I love to autox my boxster Most of the time I come up beating the 911 and the turbos. I hear that it is the best to autox b/c it handles so great around the turns. I am glad to hear that another person is going to autox their boxster. I am normally the only one to race. Now there is another guy who does it to. I usually don't change my pressure on my tires. I havn't found what pressure I should be at Yet. So I am in the dark on that. I did start to run with my fin up and I think it helps alittle. Good luck and have fun
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Old 07-31-2004, 06:13 PM   #3
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I'm glad you like to do the auto-x's. So far i've just messed around in vaccant parking lots which is a pretty good time. I unfortunately don't live by a real big city so not much action in the way of car events occurs around here. I think the auto-x next week will be a blast. If anyone lives in central Illinois you should come out and join the fun. Thanks for the tip btw. I will probabbly put my top up as well as the spoiler if the speeds on the straights are over 75mph. This is going to be a good learning experience for me.
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Old 08-01-2004, 08:28 AM   #4
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My picture is me at a auto-x. I have my top down and the radio on loud. People know me b/c of my raido. I think I do better with it on. You will stay in 2 gear the whole way. you never go fast enought to get into 3rd. I am normally in first until I get stright then I am in second. I have been to a few scca and PCA events. PCA cones are much closer B/C they think we can fit. SCCA cones are farther apart and you can get more speed. That is how it is in Ohio it might be differnt where you live. I think you should look into Drivers Ed. I got up to 123 on stock tires. Are you close to Indianappolis? There is a Drivers ed PCA event at Putum park. They are a ton of fun.
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Old 08-01-2004, 09:12 AM   #5
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If you have a warranty on the car what will it do to that warranty? Mine is a 2003 S would love to do it but apprehensive of the warranty issue. I had heard that some manufacturers are coming down hard on damage done by auto-x. Since you been doing it let me know what you know about this issue.
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Old 08-01-2004, 10:54 AM   #6
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I have a 97 so luckly I dont have to worrie about the warranty. I have heard the same thing about manufactures warranty. THe only damange I belive you can do is hit a curve of over rev your engine. You have to use your brain and don't try and and be stupid. I have been going to PCA autox for two years and I have never seen any dammage to a car. BUT that doesn't mean next weekend someone will try something stupid. Autox driving should be the same on the road. I belive it helps me know my car better b/c I know the limits in a safe place. Remember it is not the speed you drive it is how smooth you stay throughout the course
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Old 08-01-2004, 12:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pilot2519j
If you have a warranty on the car what will it do to that warranty? Mine is a 2003 S would love to do it but apprehensive of the warranty issue. I had heard that some manufacturers are coming down hard on damage done by auto-x. Since you been doing it let me know what you know about this issue.
I think I have 7yr 70k warranty on my 03 S but I'm really not too concerned voiding the warranty. The tires will get worn around the edges faster than usual, but other than that, I don't think the dealer will be able to tell of it's been auto-x'd unless you tell them. I'm getting tired of just going fast in a straight line so this will be a welcome change to actually push the car to it's limits in the corners. The only good curves around my area are I57 on-off ramps and those don't come around to often. Besides, porsche ironed out most of the mechanical gremlins on the later model boxsters. You probabbly won't even need to ever use that warranty.
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Old 08-01-2004, 01:40 PM   #8
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Autocrossing is a great way to get to know your car. While I haven't autocrossed my Boxster, yet, the basics apply to all cars.

Get to the event early so you have plenty of time to get everything out of your car. Take along some garbage bags to put all of your stuff in just in case it rains. Take along a cooler, some snacks, suntan lotion, chairs, etc. If it's like most locations, you will spend a lot of time sitting or standing around waiting for your group to run. Some events require long sleeve shirts and pants so check this out before you go.

After you have your car emptied, register for the event and go though the tech inspection. The tech people will be checking to see that you have everything out of your car, will be checking the brakes, wheel bearings, secure mounting of the battery, etc. You will need a helmet and they will check that as well.

Be sure you get a course map if one is available. Now you want to walk the course as many times as you need to burn it into your brain. Autocross turns happen very quickly and it is easy to get lost in a sea of cones. You need to memorize the course. Ideally, walk the course with a veteran autocrosser. Look for the fast line through the corners, for pavement changes (cement to asphalt as an example), holes and bumps to avoid, etc.

As you walk the course, it is best to walk it on the actual line you expect to take through the corners. This is where an experienced autocrosser can help. He can show you where you should have the car for each turn and what gear you can expect to be in. Most courses are first and second gear. Depending on how tight the course is, you may even have to shift back to first for a very slow corner.

If you don't already know how to heel and toe, you may want to learn. The key to success is being smooth. If you don't blip the throttle properly during downshifts, you will be very jerky which negatively affects the handling of your car. Same goes for braking. Brake as if you have an egg on your pedal. Smooth on and off means less pitching of the car which means you can get maximum traction.

If there is another Boxster at the event, talk to him about tire pressures. Keep in mind that unless you have the exact same tires and suspension setup, any suggestions are just that. Make sure you have a good tire gauge and use the same gauge at every event for repeatable measurements.

As a beginning point, I would bump the cold tire pressures to around 40 rear and 35 front and see what happens. Once common trick is to make a couple chalk marks on the sidewall of your tire. Start the chalk mark on your treaded area and go into the sidewall. As you run, you will see where you wear off the chalk. If you are not wearing the chalk into the rounded edge of the tread, you have too much tire pressure. If you wear off the chalk well past the rounded part of the tread into the sidewall, you need more pressure.

Make you changes in small increments. Keep in mind that your tire pressures will increase as the tire heats either from driving it or just setting in the sun. So the pressure in your shaded garage will probably be lower than mid afternoon in the sun on a hot day.

Since you appear to be new at this, I assume you do not have a set of racing harnesses in your car. Staying firmly planted in your seat while competing is a huge plus as it is easier to keep your head upright to better see where you are going. Here is a trick you can use with your factory belts. Once you pull the belt across your body, twist the end a few times before you lock the belt in it's receptacle. You will find that this will firmly hold you in you seat as it removes the slack. To make it tighter, have your seat one click back from your normal driving position. Twist and lock the belt and then move your seat forward. This will make the belt tighter.

Don't try for FTD on your first run. If this is the first time you have ever autocrossed, not missing any gates will be a successful run. Build up your speed gradually as you learn both the track and your car. You can't learn if you are sliding sideways rather than going forward. The key is to learn the proper line through each corner which will reduce the radius of the corner and to extend your straightaways as much as possible.

As your are sitting in your car waiting to run, close your eyes and run through the course in you mind. You should visualize your braking points, shfit points, etc. It should take just as long as actually driving it. This really helps you become more automatic on the course.

Best of luck.

By the way, what is the location of this autocross?
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Last edited by jerhofer; 08-02-2004 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 08-01-2004, 02:01 PM   #9
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Wow, thankyou for the tips. I will try to apply alot of what you said when I go there next weekend. I think I will just take it easy at the beginning and just get a feel for the course. Like you said I will take a wide outside line and brake before the turn to reduce the corner radius and make smooth transitions. A question about heel and toe, by downshift you mean a 3-2 or 2-1 shift correct? Some people call that upshift. You blip the gas slightly when shifting to a lower gear to keep it smooth? I often shift to a shorter gear to let the engine drag a bit and help with braking. There is a slight jerk if you let the cluctch out quickly. Is that what you are talking about? Thanks again for the info btw.

Oh, the autocross is between Mattoon and Charleston IL at the Coles County Airport about 45 min south of Champaign.
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Old 08-01-2004, 02:16 PM   #10
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That jerk you feel is what I am talking about. You want to blip the throttle to raise the revs a somewhat higher than what they will be when you engage the lower gear. When you do it perfectly, as the RPM's drop, you will let out the clutch at the correct RPM with no jerkiness.

Being able to heel and toe allows you to blip the throttle while you are applying the brakes. With your foot on the right edge of the brake pedal, you should be able to roll you foot to the right and blip the throttle. It takes practice to get good at it, but the good part is you practice this on the street. Once you become acustomed to heel and toeing, you will do it automatically all the time.

I find that on my Boxster S, the relationship of the pedals is not ideal for heel and toeing. I haven't checked into the adjustablility of the pedals yet. You can adjust the brake pedal on a 911 to place it on the proper plane with the gas pedal. On a track car that I used to have, I actually cut a ping pong paddle in half and bolted it to the gas pedal to make it wider. Made it a lot easier to roll my foot over onto the gas pedal. However, be prepared for a certain amount of kidding if you do this. Personally, I couldn't think of a better use for a ping pong paddle.



Quote:
Originally posted by Adam
Wow, thankyou for the tips. I will try to apply alot of what you said when I go there next weekend. I think I will just take it easy at the beginning and just get a feel for the course. Like you said I will take a wide outside line and brake before the turn to reduce the corner radius and make smooth transitions. A question about heel and toe, by downshift you mean a 3-2 or 2-1 shift correct? Some people call that upshift. You blip the gas slightly when shifting to a lower gear to keep it smooth? I often shift to a shorter gear to let the engine drag a bit and help with braking. There is a slight jerk if you let the cluctch out quickly. Is that what you are talking about? Thanks again for the info btw.

Oh, the autocross is between Mattoon and Charleston IL at the Coles County Airport about 45 min south of Champaign.
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Old 08-01-2004, 04:42 PM   #11
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Jerhofer,

I thought it was just me and problems heel/toeing the Boxster. I find that the brake pedal is too high in relation to the gas pedal. Also, I don't know if it's the e-gas but it's hard to equate the "feel" of the gas pedal to the amount of rpms during heel/toeing.

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