Porsche Club of America (PCA) - Potomac Region

Autocross FAQ

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Are there other names for Autocross

Solo II is the term the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) uses to refer to SCCA-sanctioned autocross events.

Gymkhana was the term used in much of the USA during the sixties. Now the term "gymkhana" as used in the USA usually connotes a gimmick event wherein drivers have to do odd things.

Autoslalom is the term used in Canada.

Who autocrosses?

Men and women. Young and old. Most autocrossers are driving enthusiasts who enjoy motorsports competition. In fact, most participants do not even own a "racecar." Rather, most people participate in the car they drive on the street. Some autocrossers are serious road race drivers who want to practice technique. Most just have an itch for speed!

Why autocross?

Autocross is an inexpensive, safe way to experience performance driving. It helps you discover your car's capabilities and limitations, making you a better, safer driver on the road. And it develops your own driving ability. Many would-be race drivers use it as a jump point into the sport of road racing. But probably the greatest thrill of autocross is the challenge of beating your own time. It's fun!

How do I join in the fun?

It costs almost nothing to start autocrossing; and since other cars are not on the course with you, there is little risk of damage to your car. To get started, just go to your first event. Ask questions. If you brought your car with you, you might even be able to register and experience autocrossing right then and there!  Also, participation in three autocross events qualifies you to drive in a Potomac Region Drivers Education event at the track.

Junior Participation Program

A PCA member's 16 or 17-year-old children (including step-children), nephews, nieces, and grandchildren, who possess a driver's license (a learner's permit is not sufficient), may participate as drivers, passengers or course workers in our events, if ceratin prerequisites are met. For information, visit the policies page.

Can I watch for free? Can I bring a friend?

Yes! You and your guests will be need to sign an insurance waiver. If you arrive after registration has closed, go directly to the timing trailer. Ask anyone for directions.

What kind of car do I need?

Any Porsche will do, as long as it passes the tech inspection. We also allow non-Porsches to participate; however, they will be grouped together in a separate "Guest" class.

What are some guidelines of etiquette that I should follow?

Guidelines of Etiquettte for Autocross (Or, Emily Post in a Porsche)

Autocross Dos:

Do your work assignment.

We are a volunteer organization, run by volunteers. When you participate in an autocross, you are expected to be at your work post on time and to perform your duties in full. Half-hearted efforts don't cut it. Leaving before the heat is finished is not acceptable. In fact, why not plan on volunteering for a major job at least once a year? Ask an organizer for suggestions.

Show up on time.

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your car, register, tech, and grid. No one likes it when latecomers rush up to the table and expect everyone to drop everything to help them. Being on time to the starting line is equally important; stay with your car while in the grid and be ready to go when the starter says GO!

Be nice to newcomers.

Offer advice or assistance. Lend a novice your tire pressure gauge. Make them feel welcome. Talk to them regardless of what they drive. A sociable attitude around novice drivers (no matter how good they think they are) goes a long way to better the sport and your future competition.

Share your tools.

Helping your fellow competitor in the spirit of good sportsmanship will give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Why not take it a step further: lend your car to someone whose ride has broken down!

Respect others' pit locations.

Stuff lying around in a parking space generally means someone is pitting there. Find an empty spot. Don't use 3 spaces when 2 will do. Finally, pick up your trash when you leave.

Be honest.

If a course worker misses one of your downed cones, own up to it.

Be a good winner/loser.


Autocross Don'ts:

Don't bother a driver who's about to take a run. You will ruin his/her concentration. When you see a driver in the grid, helmet on, strapped in, don't bother them. If you must communicate, give the thumbs up sign.

Don't speed in the pits or site entry road.

Don't do burnouts before the starting line. Don't do donuts in the parking lot. Unsafe practices like these put everyone at risk. Speeding or racing to and from events puts us all at greater risk of getting a speeding ticket, too!  The cops know where we hold these events, after all!  We don't need a bad reputation.

Don't be stubborn.

Be open to suggestions and don't think for a moment that you know everything. That kind of attitude is non-productive and usually painfully obvious.

Don't make fun of someone else's car.

Just because you hit a cone or two, don't get careless and plow down ten more. Somebody's got to right all those, you know! It slows things down, too.

Don't yell at officials or course workers. They're volunteers. Cool down and come back when you can speak in a reasonable fashion.

Don't cross banner lines. You know where you are and aren't allowed to go. That's what that tape and/or cone barriers are there for!

What do I need to bring?

If your car is stock, and you intend to race it on your street tires, all you really need is your car, a helmet, a tire pressure gauge, and your driver's license. (Loaner helmets are usually available, and you can probably borrow a gauge.) Be prepared for the weather and dress properly. Don't forget the sun block! We provide water, breakfast and lunch. Depending on your involvement in the sport, your needs will vary.

What kind of helmet do I need?

You must use a helmet with a Snell 2010 or 2015 SA (Special Applications) or M (Motorcycle) sticker.  The helmet can be full face, open face, or open with a chin guard.  The helmet should be rated for multiple impacts and have a fireproof liner.

Pay special attention to fit. The helmet should not be so tight that it brings on a headache, but your head should not rattle within it either. The goal is to have a helmet that is snug enough to prevent your head from having a distance to travel before hitting the padding.

We do provide a limited number of FREE LOANER HELMETS supplied by OG Racing for those who haven't committed to purchasing a helmet. OG Racing also has a helmet rental program where the rental cost can later be applied towards the purchase of a helmet.

Who will I be competing against?

Your car will be grouped in a class of comparably equipped cars to make for relatively fair competition. If you are a novice, an instructor will be made available to you.  He/she can help you learn the course and ride with you on your runs.  As you progress, you can be cleared to go solo.

What are the different classes of competition?

Model Classification - The class structure is adapted from the 2010 Porsche Parade Competition Rules (PCR) Section A-9.2, Recommendations for PCA Regions Running 40-80 Entrants per Event.

See the Potomac Region Autocross Rules for the details of the classes of competition.

What is a PAX Score?

Professional Autocross Index (PAX) or "Racers Theoretical Performance" (RTP) Index. The PAX is a multiplier meant to theoretically change all times into their equivalent time in autocross's fastest class. It is comparable to a golf handicap score in that it is a way to compare driving scores across car classes.

This Index was developed by Rick Ruth and reflects study of results from well over 500 nationwide Solo events, including the Tire Rack® Solo National Championships, National Tour, Alabama Region, Atlanta Region, Chicago Region, California Sports Car Club, Central Florida Region, Equipe Rapide (Florida & Texas), Great Lakes Solo Series, Hawaii Region, Houston Region, Midwest Divisional Series, Milwaukee Region, Minnesota Autosports Club, New England Region, Northwest Region, Northern New Jersey Region, Oregon Region, Philadelphia Region, Rocky Mountain Series, San Francisco Region, San Diego Region, South Jersey Region, St. Louis Region, Tri-State Sports Car Council, Texas Region, Washington DC Region, Wisconsin Autocrossers Inc., and many, many others.

Sources:

http://home.comcast.net/~paxrtp/rtp2014.html

http://strcarrera.blogspot.com/2013/04/pax-handicap-for-cars.html

How should I prepare my car for an event?

Your car should be well maintained at the very least. Keep up with oil/fluid changes, brake inspections, valve adjustments, etc. One particularly important part is the timing belt. Make sure it has been changed within the recommended service period. The high revs your engine will experience in a run are likely more than an old belt can take. Check your fluid levels.

Clean out your car. Remove everything that you won't need, and take out everything you brought with you before you run the event. As part of the tech inspection, officials will make sure there won't be anything flying around your cabin while you're on the course. Be sure to have enough gas in the tank and have properly inflated tires. When you get to the site, ask around to determine the best tire pressure to start at. As you run, your tires will heat up and the pressure will rise. You may want to take out some air in between runs. If you take out air, be sure to have sufficient air in your tires to get you home!

What do I do when I get there?

When you arrive for an event, park your car in the lot in any spot that does not contain someone else’s personal items at the front of the space. Unload everything that is loose in your car (e.g., floor mats, water bottle, cell phone, sunglasses) and place them in the spot in front of your car. If you know your car number in advance, use painter’s tape to make the numbers 12 inches high on both sides of your car. Then proceed to the registration tent, which is marked with a flag. Remember to bring your driver’s license with you. At registration, we will check that your license is current, you will sign the event waiver, and you will receive a course map, an armband, a raffle ticket, and a work assignment. As a novice, we will invite you to sign the novice list to compete with others who have done four or less autocrosses and will connect you with one of our novice coordinators. Your next stop is tech, which also is marked with a flag. Drive your car (with numbers on) to the tech line, and the tech team will make sure your car meets basic safety guidelines (e.g., no bald tires, empty of loose items). After tech, you may grab a cup of coffee and a pastry or bagel, which is included in the price of admission.   

What is a tech inspection?

A mandatory pre-race safety inspection of your car.

What can I expect at a tech inspection?

Unlike DE events, which require a thorough pre-inspection of your vehicle, usually on a lift at a repair shop, Tech Inspections at autocross events, including the Autocross School, will be conducted on-site during the morning of each event. Autocross Tech Inspections will be checking the basic safety condition of your car: insuring tires are not excessively worn, no evidence of leaking fluids, proper brakes operation, etc. However, you may want to consider attending an occasional DE Tech Inspection. They are free & open to all PCA Potomac members, whether or not you’re attending the DE, and they provide a great opportunity to more thoroughly evaluate the condition of your car.

Cars are checked for safety at each event before your first run. Generally, this task falls to an experienced autocross driver and the inspection is friendly. Your car must have a working seat belt, a good return spring on your throttle linkage, working brakes, a securely fastened battery, tight lug nuts, well-packed bearings, no excessive play in your suspension, and an interior free of loose articles. Street tires must have measurable tread depth and no cord showing. Any street car in reasonably good condition should pass this quick inspection without any trouble.  Additionally, the Tech Inspector will confirm the correct class for your car -- be sure to mention any upgrades you have made to your car. 

What does working the course involve?

In order for our events (or any autocross event) to function properly and safely, everyone must assist in working the event. We are a volunteer organization, run by volunteers. Each event usually has two heats -- you drive one heat and work the other. While one group of drivers is driving in a heat, the other heat's participants will be working the course -- resetting hit cones, watching for off-course runs, and monitoring the course for any potential safety hazards. This document contains additional information on working the course.

What is Autocross school?


In order to insure quality seat time, the Autocross School is strictly limited to 42 participants. School will include classroom and driving sessions. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

The school is open to any participants, provided they have a car that will pass Tech Inspection. However, due to limited space, PCA Potomac members will be given first preference, followed by other PCA Regional members, followed by non-PCA participants. Additionally, due to the format of the Autocross School, each Participant must have his or her own car to drive. Unlike regular Autocross events, 2 people will not be able to share a car during the Autocross School.

All Participants must REGISTER online.  If you have any questions, please email them to Autocross Chair.

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