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Old 06-08-2008, 02:16 PM   #1
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AutoCross School experience

On Saturday morning I had my first experience with AutoX at the Metro NY PCA clubs AutoX school. We started at 7am and finished up at about 3:30 PM. I had a great time, learned a lot, and met some very nice people.

The AutoX school was followed up on Sunday June 8th with a regular competitive AutoX event. Although it was fun and a good learning experience I'm not cazy about AutoX. I felt the runs were too short and you really have to throw the car around and work your suspension and tires hard. I will definitely do it again but not that often.

On July 4th I'm doing my first DE on the full 2.5 mile Pocono Raceway. I think I'm going to like the DE event better.

At the AutoX school I did well on the individual exercises : S-curves (Esses) with slalom, Late Braking, Apexes, Figure 8. But then later in the day they put them all together into one huge course I really sucked. Parts of the course just looked like a sea of cones to me and I had a hard time seeing the gates. It might have been that after 7 hours in humid 90+ degree weather ( and badly sunburned) I was just stupid from dehydration.

Anyway, for AutoCross I felt my GT3 seats did not hold me as well as I would have expected (wanted) but on a less jerky race track I hope they work better. I'm also a little disappointed in that I may have to spend some more money on BK lowering seat brackets because even with my lower than stock GT3 seats and my BK rollbar extender, with my helmet on, I am still about an inch too high to pass the broomstick test. My alternative to spending about $176 per seat on the lowering brackets may be to remove the seat padding from my seats.

I'll update this post when I have my solution and also after Pocono

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Old 06-08-2008, 05:45 PM   #2
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Autox is not as easy an some might think. and it can be a very discouraging and disappointing experience. I too almost quit after only three events but I really enjoyed the immense amount of camaraderie and told myself i would stick it out of one entire season before passing judgment. Well I am happy to say I have been autocrossing for five years now and I really do enjoy the sport. I have yet to do a DE.

I do not see a harness with your bar and seats? if you don't already have a set that would be one step toward helping keep you in your seat when autocrossing.

I cannot speak from experience since I have yet to do a track day... so this may just be me defending autocross, but I think getting good at autocross will make you a better road-course driver. Think of autox as just a compressed version of a road-course.

Keep at it!
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Old 06-09-2008, 04:14 AM   #3
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Hi Kabel, I agree with everyhting you say. AutoX will make one a better street & Track driver. Learning the quick maneuvering car control is very important. I do want to install the harness belts now but they are very expensive. About $350 a set. But I think I have to bite the bullet and buy them. DE requires that the passenger seat must be setup the same as the drivers seat so that means I have to invest another $700 plus lower my seat with another $350 worth of brackets as mentioned in my OP. And I haven't even bought real driving shoes yet. Then of course I'll want to start upgrading my suspension. Get some AutoX / Track tires...

Btw, the Boxster's dominated in the AutoX. I love 911's but they tend to fish tail a lot. Couple or 180 and 360 spins for the 911's and one engine fire. There were a couple of 911 Turbo's there, and a 2008 GT3, one of only about 101 made. The GT3 guy was in my run group and was an excellent driver as he was very experienced with DE but it was his first AutoX.
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Last edited by 2000SoCalBoxsterS; 06-09-2008 at 04:37 AM.
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Old 06-09-2008, 06:35 AM   #4
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A big part of autocrossing I like is the minimal cost associated with the sport to be competitive (on a local level anyway). I see how big a black hole track days can be, hence my resistance to doing any until I know i can afford to do it the way i want to (i.e. what you are going through now )
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Old 06-09-2008, 07:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2000SoCalBoxsterS
Anyway, for AutoCross I felt my GT3 seats did not hold me as well as I would have expected (wanted) but on a less jerky race track I hope they work better. I'm also a little disappointed in that I may have to spend some more money on BK lowering seat brackets because even with my lower than stock GT3 seats and my BK rollbar extender, with my helmet on, I am still about an inch too high to pass the broomstick test. My alternative to spending about $176 per seat on the lowering brackets may be to remove the seat padding from my seats.
It's going to be jerky since most auto-x events are really designed for tiny narrow roadsters like the Miatas. I haven't sat in the GT3 seats but I can imagine Porsche designed it to be comfortable for daily driving as well.

How tall are you if you don't mind me asking? I'm 6'2" and I think the GT3 seat will fit me better.
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:37 AM   #6
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I'm not that tall. I'm only 6' tall. They are comfortable and not too hard to get out of but you can't just slide out of the seats sideways. It's a two step process. Rotate your body 70 to 90 degrees left while simultaneously lifting your left leg and planting your left foot on the pavement. Then climb out. They are pretty comfortable for everyday use if you don't mind not being able to adjuct the angle of the seat back.
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Old 06-09-2008, 06:38 PM   #7
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1) Do the bottom seat cushions come out of the GT3 seats?

2) "equal" style systems is what most PCA regions require for DE. So. You could lower your seat and leave the passenger seat "higher".

3) The broomstick test is there for a reason. Some regions don't worry about it if you run a Hardtop. You will certainly need to run with the top up regardless.

One thing I noticed is that I sit differently between AX and DE. For AX I move the seat closer to the wheel and higher so I can see better. For DE, I am more willing to sit lower/farther from the wheel. This helps because the (stock) seat gets lower the farther back you travel

4) Harnesses will certainly help you stay in the seat better. When I ride in cars on track with regular 3pt belts I spend way too much effort supporting myself as I do trying to drive or instruct.

5) Its only safety! Folks love to spend money on the "go fast" stuff but often baulk when spending an equal amount for their personal safety. Sure, drive that 160 mph car close to concrete walls but why not also spend a few bucks as insurance against the "what ifs". On the plus side, where you will be buying new tires every season, the safety gear is good for 5 or so years.. much easier to "write down" those expense. plus, if there is a wife, she's likely more unsderstanding of spending money on safety than speed.


6) Glad to hear you are out enjoying your car. One thing I love about autocross is that EVERY course is different. You can drive Pocono (pick a configuration) and its the same track year after year. While it affords you to learn it well, it can become boring.
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Old 06-09-2008, 07:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekam
It's going to be jerky since most auto-x events are really designed for tiny narrow roadsters like the Miatas.

^I would say that's a pretty poor generalization of autocross, but that really would be a discussion for another thread not this one.

Are multi-point harnesses required for DE's?

A very inexpensive alternative ($40 vs. $700) you could try (maybe at your next autox) is the CG Lock (http://www.cg-lock.com/). It's not even remotely close to a harness, but I find it helps.
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racer_d
1) Do the bottom seat cushions come out of the GT3 seats?

2) "equal" style systems is what most PCA regions require for DE. So. You could lower your seat and leave the passenger seat "higher".

3) The broomstick test is there for a reason. Some regions don't worry about it if you run a Hardtop. You will certainly need to run with the top up regardless.

One thing I noticed is that I sit differently between AX and DE. For AX I move the seat closer to the wheel and higher so I can see better. For DE, I am more willing to sit lower/farther from the wheel. This helps because the (stock) seat gets lower the farther back you travel

4) Harnesses will certainly help you stay in the seat better. When I ride in cars on track with regular 3pt belts I spend way too much effort supporting myself as I do trying to drive or instruct.

5) Its only safety! Folks love to spend money on the "go fast" stuff but often baulk when spending an equal amount for their personal safety. Sure, drive that 160 mph car close to concrete walls but why not also spend a few bucks as insurance against the "what ifs". On the plus side, where you will be buying new tires every season, the safety gear is good for 5 or so years.. much easier to "write down" those expense. plus, if there is a wife, she's likely more unsderstanding of spending money on safety than speed.


6) Glad to hear you are out enjoying your car. One thing I love about autocross is that EVERY course is different. You can drive Pocono (pick a configuration) and its the same track year after year. While it affords you to learn it well, it can become boring.
I am with you on the safety point of view. That's why I sprung for the BK extender and real GT3 seats instead knocks off's or cheap seats. I also spared no expense on my helmet. And I appreciate the broomstick test. That's why I am trying to get my head with helmet on below the rollbar. The thigh support cushion in the GT3 seat definitely comes out. There is a slot under it for the crotch strap that connects to the anit-sub bar. I'm pretty sure the butt cushion comes out as well. They are held in with velcro. I will lower both seats and get the 5-6 point harness deal before Pocono. Even for the passenger seat because hey, instructors are people too.
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Old 06-09-2008, 09:28 PM   #10
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Try this trick on your next A/X. This may help you stay in your seat more. Move your chair further back than usual, jerk the seat belt so that it locks up (tension), then while holding it with your arm, take your other hand and move your chair forward to your preference. This will make the seat belt stay locked and even tighter and hold you in. It's not as good as a seat harness, but it's free and does help.

As far as your helmet, have you tried a different brand or style? Also some helmets have adjustable pads, this may help with your clearance issue. Another trick is roll up a towel and put it behind your bottom (not underneath) or lumbar area this will make you sloutch more causing you sit lower.
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:25 AM   #11
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I appreciate all of the good advice. I could also bolt the seats directly to the floor and lose the sliders but I need the adjustability for as long as I have an instructor working with me. For example, at the AutoX one of the instructors when driving my car with me as the passenger had to slide my seat all the way back to be in the right driving position for him.
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Old 06-10-2008, 01:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kabel
Are multi-point harnesses required for DE's?
Depends. See.. PCA has some minimum regulations. However, each region can implement additional levels of regulations.

For example. Potomac PCA, in their tech form, states that any car that exceeds PCA Stock and Prepared class mods (ie, would run as a GT class car) be equipped with GT class safety.

Thus, lets say you had a 1980 911 that came with a 3.0 liter motor. You wanted more power and installed a 3.6 liter motor from a 1993 911. That is a "GT class" mod. Therefore, you would need a cage, race seats, harnesses, Fire supression system etc. (Of course, enforcement is another issue, I am just giving an example of one regions take on safety)

So while harnesess may not be required now, it is conceivable that the OP could run with a region that has different ideas of safety than his "home" region.

Since the OP has the already fantastic seats and rollbar extender, and fire extinguisher, the next "logical" safety issue is harnesses and potential a Hans like device.

Be careful going "too low" as you will find the Computer sits under your seat and room may be a limiting issue.
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Old 06-10-2008, 01:38 PM   #13
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autox can be a bit grueling, particularly in the NY area. I used to come out for the NY SCCA at Nassau but there were just TOOOO many guys showing up. They had to do three sessions to get everyone in. And the Sunday afternoon traffic was a nightmare. I did the EVO school there and it was great, he did half of it in a monsoon which was pretty cool.

You'll have better luck in NJ in terms of seat time, particularly the PCA events. It's more skill development oriented where the SCCA and others are more geared toward competition. The Giants Stadium venue is very good for Autocross, the lot is very open and they usually don't put the cones so close that you can't get going.

By the way, Autox may seem like a chore but you'll sharpen your skills with the brake and throttle about 1000% more than you would in a DE where you have forever to set up for a corner. Safer Autocross drivers make for safer track drivers. It took me a solid 12-15 autocross events before I could stay focused on the next gat rather than being target fixated on the gate I was currently in.

www.autox4u.com
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Old 06-11-2008, 04:22 AM   #14
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At this particular AutoX school they did limit the registration to only 30 cars. I didn't go to the full timed AutoX event the following day on Sunday so I don't know how many cars were there. But it was PCA and Porsches only. I got so badly sun-burned on Saturday that I couldn't do the AutoX especially in the heat we had last Sunday.

I would like to checkout the Jersey PCA events though. What is that club chapters website? Also, what is EVO? I know there is an EVO parts company, and I bought an EVO magazine, and I hear EVO this and EVO that, but what is EVO?
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Old 06-11-2008, 07:18 AM   #15
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Evo = Evolution Performance Driving School: http://www.evoschool.com/

Focuses on improving autocross driving skills, lots of fun!
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Old 06-11-2008, 08:21 AM   #16
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EVO is another autocross school but they charge $250 which cuts the number of cars in a big way which means more seat time and less standing around. They have a Phase I and Phase II. I did Phase I as a half day event because I'd already done about a season of autocross at that point. It's all the basic stuff and they set up a very uncomplicated course. You'll find that with AutoX it becomes repetitive after about 15 events because you only have about a half dozen types of gates: hairpin, slalom, six pin, chicago box, slight turn, long turn, etc.
I did the Phase II as a whole day and the course was much more complex and technical like a long straight leading into a very tight turn leading into a hairpin so you only had about a half second to get on the brake before you were plowing through a bunch of cones...which of course I did three times in a row! Its a very busy course.

Here's the link for the NJ PCA
The guy that runs autocross there runs a tight ship so you usually get at least 10 runs and you're done in the shortest amount of time. But the best part is that SCCA run their Englishtown events on the same day so the autocross following isn't all bunched into to the same venue. The non-Porsche drivers get classified into an X group where they all compete against each other no matter engine size.
I think if you join the PCA you get a 10% service discount at some NJ Porsche dealers so it pays for itself.

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