So. Someone told you about AutoCross, and now you want to try it. We get a lot of questions about how to get started, so we put together this page to help you out. Please read this and then message us on Facebook if you have any questions. Fortunately, your path forward is simple from here, so you shouldn’t have much trouble.
Here are the essentials to get you started:
- VEHICLE & TECH. Make sure your car will pass the Arkansas SCCA Tech inspection. Good news! If your car is wider than it is tall and is in good mechanical condition, you can probably autocross it! Double-check the FAQ page for all the things we check. We’ve seen everything from karts, to the family sedan with street tires, to purpose-built autocross cars with track-only tires. It’s all welcome as long as it’s safe for everyone!
- REGISTRATION. Register for your first event! All registrations are handled through MotorSportReg. Registration for all events except Test And Tune and Driver’s School end at 8AM the day of the event. Just create an account and search for them there or use our events calendar to go straight to each event’s sign up page.
- Autocross events will either be at the Stuttgart Municipal Airport or at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Pay attention and go to the right location!
- When you register, you will need to select a class and number.
- Classing your car can be difficult, but there’s good resources out there to help. The best way to figure out your class is probably to just ask someone with a similar car. You can make a post in the general group on Facebook. The latest SCCA Autocross Rulebook also contains a wealth of info in Appendix A, but it can be a little overwhelming, so it’s usually easier to ask others first.
- The number can be anything you want that isn’t already taken by someone in your class. If you have a co-driver, one of you needs to use the main driver number plus 100. So if your number is 10, your codriver would be 110. You will need the numbers on the car. Check out the FAQ page for more details on that.
- YOUR FIRST EVENT. Show up early the day of the event! Pay attention to the schedule! This gives you a chance to meet fellow drivers/see your competition. You do have a few things you will need to do once you arrive, get your car unloaded, and have your paddock spot set up.
- CAR PREP. Make sure you have removed all loose items from your car.
- WAIVER. Head over to the SCCA van, sign your waiver, and get a wristband. Everyone must have a wristband, whether driver or spectator.
- TECH INSPECTION. You will need to make sure that the Tech Inspector sees you, inspects your car, and gives you a sticker. Do this early…there’s a lot of cars and only one Tech Inspector.
- THE COURSE. Walk the course. Find someone that looks like they know what’s going on (or ask the worker at the van to point you toward an experienced member). Tell them you’re new and ask them if you can walk the course with them and if they’d mind explaining things as you walk. There’s a lot of cones out there and ideally you’d know what they mean before you’re heading toward them at 50 MPH.
- MENTAL PREP. Use the time you have until the driver’s meeting starts to run through the course in your head, walk it again, or converse with fellow drivers. You can learn a lot just watching and listening to what’s going on.
- DRIVER’S MEETING. Be at the van when the driver’s meeting is scheduled to start. Everyone must be at the driver’s meeting. If you don’t attend the driver’s meeting, you’re no longer a driver. Simple as that.
- GET READY TO DRIVE OR WORK. Pay attention to which run group your class is in (announced at the end of the driver’s meeting or viewable HERE once the driver’s meeting starts).
Not a whole lot! Autocross is designed to be easy. The only time we won’t go easy on you is if you're doing something that puts you or someone else in harm’s way. A good rule of thumb is…don’t be an idiot.
A few other notes:
- Pack a lunch for any event in Stuttgart. The closest restaurant is 15-20 minutes away and you WON’T have time to be back for the afternoon runs.
- AutoCross is a volunteer sport. We need everyone to drive and work. If you drive your runs and then skip your work assignment, we will delete your times from the computer and you may get a talking to at your next event.
- If you don’t have a helmet that meets SCCA requirements, you can borrow one from us. Keep in mind that a lot of people have used these helmets over the years…and maybe consider getting your own. Helmets that meet SCCA requirements can be found as low as $150 online. If you invest in a closed-face helmet that’s rated Snell SA2020, it will last you at least until 2030 (for ARSCCA) and will be accepted at almost every track event or autocross you wish to attend.
- Note: open face helmets are just fine for the ARSCCA, but might not be for all organizations/events. If you get a closed-face, you know you’ll be covered.
- If you’re having trouble learning the course once you start, stop at the van after a run and ask them to send someone to ride with you. Or ask someone in your Run Group if you can ride with them. Someone will probably let you and it can give you extra glimpses at the course. The more people you ride with, the more opportunities you will have to see driver style and the fastest way to attack the course.
Driving advice for managing your car...and your expectations:
- Have fun
- Don't expect too much. Autox is a high-skill sport and your learning curve will be very steep at the beginning. Your goal is to be better on the second run than on the first, then better on the third, etc. What the class leaders are doing at this time is utterly irrelevant.
- You'll probably get lots of advice and pointers. So much, it will be like drinking from a firehose. Use and work on what makes sense, and what doesn't just forget it for now. Later sometime the light bulb will go on. Or someone else will say the same thing a different way and it will click.
- Have fun.
- Don't worry about a quick spin. but if the car feels like it is beginning to get away from you, do not try to save the run. Straighten it out and regain control, even if it means blowing a gate or a turn. Remember, when you spin, BOTH FEET IN (clutch and brake). And then, do complete the course. It's still good practice and experience.
- Get an experienced person to walk the course with you. Twice if possible. Then do it the third time by yourself and see how much you remember what was told to you (but keep #3 above in mind too).
- If allowed, get an experienced person to ride with you, at least on the early runs. Last run at least, do it solo.
- If possible, do your work assignment in an early heat and run in a later heat. Try to get on a busy corner, with an experienced person. Ask him to explain what people are doing right or wrong in that corner.
- Have fun.
- Tell everyone you're a newbie. Solicit advice, especially from others in your class. You'll find this a group that is very free with helpful guidance (at least until you are faster than they are).
- Other than making sure it is in top running condition, don't blow a lot of money on your car yet. Invest in the driver first. If you have a chance to do a driver school, do it. Consider spending money on mods to the car (including tires) after your own performance curve begins to plateau.
- Did I remember to mention: HAVE FUN!