CCR is very lucky to have a LOT of things going for it, great sites, good people, and lots of fun competition. As a result, we regularly have lots of new people giving autocross a try for their first time. Hopefully this guide will answer a few questions to help maximize your fun factor.
First things first, autocross is an early person sport. Don’t ask me why. Mornings are two ‘o’ stoopid to me too…but it is. Follow the schedule posted on Motorsports Reg for the exact times of gate open, reg closed, etc., but to give an example, a typical autocross morning for a novice might look like:
7:15 Arrive on site, find a paddock spot and unpack car
7:30 Check in at timing trailer
7:45 Go on first course walk (they often take 15-20 minutes)
8:05 Tape numbers on car and find the little green man (tech line)
8:30 Go on novice course walk with instructors
Definitely go on as many course walks as you can. Having a rough idea of where you are going next means your mind can focus on other things at speed. A typical strategy is to take mental note of where you may need to pre-plan the first walk, make a plan on the second walk, and verify the plan on a third. You don’t need to memorize every corner. Most courses have 4 to 8 spots where you will need to set up a plan.
Make sure you attend the drivers meeting (it is mandatory after all). This is where we go over safety protocols, and run groups. Autocross requires competitors to help out to make the event happen, so you will be assigned a run group where you take your runs and a run group where you work (most likely picking up cones for fellow competitors). Any other run group is free time. Grab food, get to know your fellow competitors (I promise we’re more friendly than the FB bickering would imply!), and the REALLY fun option is to ride along with more experienced drivers. Also consider a chair and snacks so you can watch others run in comfort.
When it is your turn to drive, bring your car to the Grid (coned off parking area closest to course) and grab a loaner helmet. Grid workers will show you where to park. Once parked in grid, an instructor will be assigned to work with you. Learning is a constant part of autocross and even drivers that have been competing for years will have others hop in to spot opportunities for improvement. Between runs take some time to meet your fellow novices and other instructors. Sometimes all it takes is hearing the same concept worded in a different way to get it to click, so working with as many people as possible always helps.
When it is your turn to work there will likely be a line forming between grid and the course. This is the line to check in and get a work assignment. Please keep an ear open for the announcements and try not to be late so we can keep the event moving. Grab a vest and be careful when heading out on course. If you have any medical limitations which limit what you can do for a work assignment, ask to talk to a worker chief in the morning when you check in at the timing trailer. WEAR SUNSCREEN, bring a hat and bring soft soled, comfy, close toed shoes. We have water on site, but if you prefer another (non-adult) beverage bring that as well. Alcohol and illegal substances are a quick way to get booted from the event. The basics of shagging cones will be reviewed during the novice course walk.
It’s a long day, not going to kid you, but the fun and the people make it worth the effort. If you have time, a group usually meets for dinner and drinks at a local restaurant after. Just ask around what the restaurant of choice is for that day. Welcome to SCCA!