First Time at Autocross

First Time at Autocross

Autocross is a great way to start exploring the performance and road-handling capabilities of your Porsche in a safe, fast and fun environment. The course is laid out with traffic cones in a large parking lot. Turns are designed with varying degree of sharpness such that the best times result from superior driving skills, rather than horsepower.

Timing System

GGR’s Computerized Timing System

 

The rules are simple: go as fast as you can without knocking over any cones. At the end of each run, your time is recorded, and a one second penalty is added for each cone you knocked down. In a typical day, you will get 10 to 12 runs. In the morning you will probably concentrate on learning the course, and in the afternoon show what you are made of.

Participants

Anyone with a valid driver’s license can participate. Teenagers under the age of 18 are welcome, provided one parent is present and they have the proper authorization form.

Any Porsche owner can participate. You do not have to be a PCA member, but members get a discount. If you are a GGR member, you can drive your other (presumably non-Porsche) car with prior arrangement and permission of the event chair.

We allow any sedan, coupe or convertible, but please don’t bring a pick-up truck, minivan, covered wagon or the like.

Learning how to Autocross

GGR Autocross events are ideal for first timers. We make qualified instructors available every time. They ride in the car with you and get you started. You might even be able to bum a ride in their car and experience going really fast around the same course.

Once a year, GGR organizes an autocross school. It is a great way to get started or to improve your skills, but it is not required. This website explains all you need to do ahead of time; then you just show up at your first event.

Course work

Since GGR manages its events with volunteers, we ask all participants to serve as course workers when they are not driving.

Chalking the course

Chalking the course

 

All the participants are divided into 2 or 3 groups, and while one group is driving, another is working the course. Your job as a course worker is to pick up the cones that have been knocked over, and to handle safety. You need to pay attention to the cars on course, but it is not difficult. Your instructor will show you what to do.

Working the course is a great opportunity to see how various cars are driving the course and to learn from what you observe.

Registration

Registration opens on-line a few days before the event. Please sign up early; the sooner we know you are coming, the smoother the event logistics can be.

If you forgot to sign up on-line, come to the venue anyway and sign-up on site. (This does not apply to special events such as the Autocross School, which are usually sold out beforehand.)

At the event

First go to the registration table and sign in. If you haven’t already paid online then you have the opportunity to pay at this time. Once you’re signed in and have also signed the release form, pick up your windshield sticker and sign up for course work.

Then find a place to park and empty your car thoroughly. Remove all objects such as CDs, cell phones, hair clips, maps, bottles, extra shoes, tools, etc, everything that is not bolted down. Most people also take out their jack and spare tire. All these items can become dangerous flying debris when you are cornering and braking. Be safe and remove ALL the clutter.

Tech inspection

Tech inspection


Once the car is empty and you’ve got your registration sticker on your windshield, put your hood up and leave your helmet with your car to signal to the tech inspectors that you’re ready to have your car looked at. The inspector will place another sticker on your windshield if you pass.

It is now time to get you ready. Walk the course to familiarize yourself with the layout. Go with your instructor if you have one already, or join a small group of people who look like they know what they are doing. They will be fretting about the proper line to drive. For your first time out, just worry about the basics. Do we go clockwise or counter clockwise? Where do we enter? Where do we exit? Get a mental picture of the course and where the sharp corners and other tricky parts are. Ask questions and take notes.

After the walk-around, there will be a mandatory drivers’ meeting at the timing trailer to go over the day’s proceedings. Don’t be late or miss it.

If you do not have an instructor yet, ask for one at the meeting.

It is then time to have fun.

Preparation

Prior to your first autocross, you need to spend a few minutes preparing your car:

  • Remove anything inside you are not going to need that day. Whatever is left in the car will have to get removed at the event anyway, so you might as well get a head start.
  • Check your tires for wear; make sure no cord is showing anywhere.
  • Adjust the tires’ air pressure to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Make sure your brakes are in good condition.
  • Check your oil level and add some if necessary.
  • Try to show up with 3/8 of a gas tank. More is certainly OK, but it is extra weight to carry around
  • Get car numbers if you have your assigned number. (You will keep the same number as long as you remain active in GGR autocross.) You can also use blue tape or shoe polish at the event, so don’t worry if you don’t have car numbers.
  • Class your car to compare your results to those of people who drive a vehicle of approximately the same performance characteristics, and to be eligible for a year-end trophy.

And prepare yourself:

  • Get a good helmet that fits well. Must be certified Snell 2005 or better, SA or M rating
  • We have a few loaner helmets available at each event if you do not want to make a purchase for your first time.
  • Wear good closed shoes and comfortable clothing.
  • Pack water, food, hat and sun screen.
  • Relax and prepare to have a good time.

Note: If you bring a video camera, it MUST be securely installed in the car; it cannot be held by hand.

Some common questions

Q: Will autocrossing hurt my car?
A: No, Porsches were engineered to be driven this way. Your car has a racing heritage and, if you listen, it is begging you to take it autocrossing. Courses are laid out so they do not come close to light poles and other immovable objects. You will wear out tires and brakes faster, but the wear is not significant from a single autocross.

Q: Is It dangerous?
A: It is about as dangerous as crossing a busy street on foot. When you are working course, the most important thing is your safety. Always keep your eyes on the cars on course. Always double check that no cars are coming before you run to pick up that cone. GGR emphasizes safety first.

Q: How can I learn more about autocrossing?
A: GGR recommends the book Secrets of Solo Racing, by Hank Watts. Available on Amazon.

Q: Other questions?
A: Email the event chairs or post on the bulletin board.

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