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Old 03-29-2008, 02:50 PM   #1
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First Autocross Today

So, I went to Richmond International Raceway for my first autocross today sponsored by Euroclassics Porsche of Richmond and the PCA. having never been to an autocross before and I had this idea that I would be in a nice, flat parking lot with no nearby walls to run into and with me driving the course at a fairly low speeds.....NOT!

The autocross was setup on the oval of the RIR NASCAR track. The RIR is a excellent high-tech NASCAR track with a very smooth surface and quite steep banks at the turns. There was a great group of 30+ Porsches and their drivers for the blustery day's events. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, especially for a novice like me. One of the highpoints of the day was that I got the chance to meet another boxster board member who has good taste in cars (same color, year and wheels as mine....).

The first thing that I was impressed by was how much skill it took to navigate the course and how difficult it was to remember where to go on the course while at speed. The other thing that impressed me was what poor times I was turning in on the course.

But, I must say that the main thing that that I found impressive about the day's events was what it felt like to put the car into a high-speed spin on the back corner of the track, thank the gods for steeply-banked tracks. All I could remember was "both feet in in a skid", I did what I was told and it worked. It was all great fun. I especially enjoyed the part where I got back home without any damage to my car from bashing into wall (I stopped about 3 feet away after the skid). Let's see now, when is the next one of these things going on.......


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Old 03-29-2008, 03:44 PM   #2
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LOL! Good to hear you gave it a try. Welcome to another fun hobby!
Sounds like it was an interesting course using the banking for autocross
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Old 03-29-2008, 06:38 PM   #3
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"Sounds like it was an interesting course using the banking for autocross"

It really was, I enjoyed walking the course before the event started, you really got a sense of how steep the banks were. I think the track was a one and one eighth mile loop, but because of the cones, you actually traveled farther. The fast cars were doing the run in less than 75 seconds, yikes!

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Old 03-29-2008, 09:54 PM   #4
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Sounds like fun. Do you have to get special insurance to autocross your car?
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Old 03-30-2008, 04:36 AM   #5
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"Do you have to get special insurance to autocross your car?"

I hope not, I didn't have any extra insurance.


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Old 03-30-2008, 04:57 AM   #6
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Is that what auto cross is? Taking your car on a track? I thought it was just driving around highway cones in a big flat parking lot. I have to actually read all the letters I get from the PCA and my local Metro club.

What equipment is required to be allowed to Auto-cross? I know I need the rollbar extender, helmet, fire-extinguisher... Do I need racing seats with the 5 point harness? I really want to get more involved this year.

Thanks
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Old 03-30-2008, 08:25 AM   #7
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I'm glad to hear you enjoyed your first autocross experience. My 17 yo son will be attending his first autocross school in April, with Chicago PCA, driving my Boxster S. From a safety standpoint, there is no better way to learn vehicle dynamics and driver control; plus it can be a lot of fun.

Now as to "high-tech NASCAR track"...that's an overstatement if I've ever heard one!!!

Have fun...
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:40 PM   #8
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No need for special or additional insurance, and you do not need any special equipment. That is why autocross is so fun, accessible and inexpensive.

Generally autocross is on a flat open lot, and defined by traffic cones. But sometimes you need to be creative or have the option to introduce other variables, in this case the banked portion of a track. Which sounds really fun to me actually!

You do not need the rollbar extender, fire-extinguisher or racing seats with the 5 point harness. Just bring your car, and an open mind! You might want to get your own helmet eventually, though most clubs have loaner helmets available for those just starting out.

Do it! Get out there and give it a try!
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Old 03-30-2008, 09:59 PM   #9
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Autocross...

My first autocross of the season was today. LOTS of fun. I haven't done it for years and I was glad to get back into it. Mine was more of the standard deal - flat parking lot with cones. People run completely stock cars, you really just need a helmet and loaners are available.

I was quite pleased to beat some much more powerful cars and even out ran a Lotus Elise, but I wasn't in my Porsche. I was in my POS '87 Honda CRX race car with maybe 100 Hp. Still she really came alive today with race slicks on. God I wish I could keep those on the car, which is also my daily driver! That's the fun things about autocross - you can race anything and you can beat just about anything. With tight routes and slower speeds it helps to even things out between the big guys and the little guys.
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Old 03-31-2008, 03:45 AM   #10
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"With tight routes and slower speeds it helps to even things out between the big guys and the little guys."

The routes were tight in places on the autocross setup on the track I attended, but I think I was going over 90 mph at the end of the back straight comming into the next set of cones setup at the final curve in course..... yikes,

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Old 03-31-2008, 07:55 AM   #11
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I think if you read our insurance policy you will see that your car is not covered in a "timed event or competition" which an autocross clearly is. Most insurance companies find ways to exclude DE's as well. I heard there were a few that would cover your car at these events but I have yet to be able to find one that would. I am not gonna stop though. That's what these cars were built for and where you can really enjoy the way your Boxster was meant to be driven (well..legally anyway)
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:01 AM   #12
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VIR for an autox? lucky guy. Just watch out for the deer though. A few years back during a karting race thumper decided to cut across that cicruit and it was curtains for the racer and deer.
As far as insurance I think you can buy 'day insurance' for the DE's.
Autocross is purty safe but one local president of one of the many autox clubs here in the NY-NJ region sardine-canned his car into a light pole. Explain that to the insurance...

A few tips before the bad habits start up.
1-drive with shoulders not wrists
2-keep your shoulder blades pinned to the back of the seat
don't sway back and forth like you are on a boat.
3-lean your head in the direction of the next cone. I even see some of the pros still doing this.
4-let first gear come up fully before you upshift. Some people dump it right away but I think most times you are leaving some speed on the table.
5-make a mental effort to keep your hands glued at 3 and 9 o'clock and only let go when you've gone past 180 degrees. Shuffling the wheel just adds to the confusion.
6-place a piece of tape at 12 o'clock to remind you to keep your hands put.
7-brake early in the begining but really lay into it. Autocross is where you learn the limits of your brakes more than learning the limits of the throttle. Most people will never learn this just driving on public roads.

safer autocross drivers make for safer track drivers.
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Old 03-31-2008, 12:28 PM   #13
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Autocrosses can be great fun. Types of track vary by region and by what is available to use.. Some use large stadium parking lots.. others use airfields.. others use the local "oval" tracks and pit/parking areas.

Indeed, AX does violate most insurance policies due to the very nature of the events- they are "timed" event, which equates to racing. And while sometimes bad things happen (like finding curbs, lightpoles, walls) AX courses and drivers tend to view the hobby as safe or low risk and willing to not worry about insurance.
To the first time AX, it can be quite humbling. Here you come with a nice fast 200-250hp car and get beat up by the 100hp econobox.... or the 400hp killer set up car. But that's what makes it so much fun because it doesn't matter what car you drive.. its the seat time, the experience, the fun and the adrenaline of your run times that make it so neat.
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Old 03-31-2008, 12:30 PM   #14
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I kind of wish you could just go drive the track with nobody watching.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:34 PM   #15
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I just got my information from my insurance company and I'm looking to see what it specifically says that might pertain to autocross. What I have found so far is that fungi and nuclear detonation aren't covered. wtf?

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