Survival Guide for the New Autocrosser
Tonight, or sometime before your first event, you should read the Autocross Novice Handbook by Kate Hughes. It’s all available online and it has everything you’ll need to know for your first year or two autocrossing. If you have absorbed this book, you’ll start out way ahead of other new autocrossers, and ahead of some old-timers, too.
Check the Car Classification Rules and figure out what SCCA class your car belongs in. You will probably want to run in the Novice Class for at least your first few events – these are denoted by running a 5xx series number. It will help a lot to know your class before you arrive.
Review the general procedures for one of our autocrosses so you will know better what to expect.
You do not have to be a dues paying member of Kentucky Region or of the National SCCA in order to compete at our events. However, there is an additional cost to run as a ‘weekend member’ at our events. Over the course of a season, a membership in the SCCA quickly pays for itself and if you wish to have points count toward a year end trophy, you will need to be a KYR member or associate member. A more detailed explaination of member levels can be found on our Join Us! page in the top menu.
Registration opens at 7:30 am & closes at 9:00 am local time. New drivers should arrive no later than 8:00 am. When you first arrive on site, you will need to sign the release waiver at the gate, if one is offered there, and put on a security wristband.
Please obey site speed restrictions — 10 MPH. Higher speeds, tire warming, burnouts or drifting practice on site will get you removed and banned, and may lose the site for autocrossing permanently. Please help us out here!
Tell the registration tent that you’re a new autocrosser. They can answer your questions and may be able to point you to someone who will help you through your first event.
- Sign the release waiver and put on a security wristband if you did not already do so at the gate.
- Let us know if you need assistance deciding your vehicle class.
- Present a valid driver’s license and your SCCA membership card (if applicable)
- Let us know if you pre-registered and pre-paid for the day’s event.
- If not, pay the registration fee ($40 for SCCA members, $50 for drivers competing under the ‘weekend membership’ program. Pre-register and pre-pay and save $5).We accept cash, credit cards and personal checks.
- If did not participate in permanent number registration we will assign you a number for your class. If you are co-driving a vehicle it is preferred the numbers be the same with a “1” in front of one driver EXAMPLE: 125 & 25 SM
- If you have verified your ID, Paid & Checked in at the Computers for your number your registration is complete, please proceed to the Vehicle Tech Area.
The course is open for walks before the first run group, and during lunch break between groups 4 and 5. There will be organized Novice course walk led by an experienced driver at most events typically begins at 9:30 am. Otherwise just tag along with someone who looks as if they have done this before.
Announcement are often made over the Public Address system. At some events no PA is allowed, and you must get information from different sources. We transmit FM signal on 88.7 which can be picked up by your nearby car radio or other FM receiver. You will need to pay close attention to the progress of the event so you will be ready for work time, grid time, and run time for your run group. Pay Attention!
Listen to the announcement of the Drivers’ Meeting (typically at 9:45 am right after the completion of the novice walk). You must attend it. You will be informed on your work assignments, Tech. Inspection, instructional course walk, grid procedures, and other organizational details. Please ask any questions that you have at this meeting.
- Take EVERYTHING out of the car: spare tire, jack, tools, maps, old Big Mac wrappers. EVERYTHING. It’s simple safety precaution. You don’t want to discover the book you like to keep under the seat jammed under the brake pedal at the end of the fastest part of the track, or have your windshield blocked by the map that came flying trough the cabin.
- Remove wheel covers, or hub covers that are not screwed in. They will become projectiles on the course. Once you have them off, make sure your wheels lugs are properly torqued.
- Check the tire pressures. If you are running the street tires you probably want to bump it up few pounds more than you normally run. If you’re not sure, ask somebody with the same or similar car, one of the Novice Mentors, or somebody who looks like they know what they doing (usually folks with funny looking cars covered with stickers).
- Attach your car numbers. Make sure they are easily visible and readable.
You will be told where the tech is conducted during registration.
Drive your car to the Tech inspection site for inspection. Tech will check for safety and numbers visibility rather than class conformance. Your car’s legality is policed by your competitors, who can protest you for illegal modifications, and get you disqualified.
Depending on the event schedule, you may have to work before, or after your run. You must work to pay for your runs, non-workers will be banned from future events, not to mention disliked and shunned. When your group is called to work, report to the Timing Trailer. Event Chairman will check your name off the worker sign-up sheet. If you do not work, you will not be listed in the results and may be banned from future events. You must be an SCCA Member to ask for a worker assignment other than course working. At the end of each event before trophies are announced (if its a points event) the entire course and site must be cleaned and the trailer packed and readied for the next event. Please lend a hand if you are able and definitely clean up after yourself and friends.
When your group is called to grid. There will usually be someone controlling the grid. Pay close attention to this person running the grid and do not leave your car unattended from this time on. Note that one or more lines are for two-driver cars, use these only if you have a co-driver. If you need a loaner helmet, get one just after you grid your car. Leave your fully filled out registration card under your windshield wiper or on your dash in clear view.
Other drivers often are happy to coach you on your first runs. Ask for help and you will usually find a friend who can help you with staging, starting and actual driving. Rules permit passengers on any run, and other drivers often give rides when asked, though most often on their first or second runs only. Don’t be afraid to ask, don’t be deterred if one declines — ask the next person. However, no competitor at a points event is permitted to ride with another driver prior to their competition runs – it would be an unfair advantage.
During your run, watch for any red flag being waved by a course worker — STOP AT ONCE if the red flag is waved, until the workers direct you to continue quickly through the course.
IMPORTANT: After you cross the finish line SLOW DOWN and proceed back on the grid to prepare for the next run. After the last run SLOWLY drive to your paddock area.
Congratulations! You’ve done it!