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How to Get Started in Autocross

Posted on May 15, 2020 by Martin Banks

If you’ve ever wanted to hurtle at high speeds around a track, but didn’t have the skills or the connections to become a NASCAR or Formula One driver, you might feel like your calling is passing you by. Why not give autocross a try? It’s essentially amateur racing and is the perfect place for anyone who dreams of racing cars but can’t do it for a living. 

Find an Event

Before you start buying race gear and a new car, find an autocross event near you and head out there as a spectator. This can be an incredible opportunity for information gathering. Learn what the requirements are, what you need to do to enter a race and what could help set you apart from other drivers. 

See what you’re getting yourself into before you start spending money on your autocrossing career. Check out the SCCA website, put in your zip code and see what’s available in your area.

Choose Your Car

Once you’ve resolved to head to the track, you need to start looking for your car. Are you planning on using your daily driver to race, or are you going to buy a dedicated racing vehicle? This is where your first step also comes in handy. Take a close look at the makes and models people are driving, especially those that are coming out on top. 

The new 2020 Mustang is a good choice for new drivers. In addition to being affordable, the 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission is great for anyone who needs a bit of extra control but isn’t quite ready to make the jump to manual transmissions yet. 

Gear Up

You can’t just hop in the driver’s seat and drive at an autocross event. You need to make sure you have the right gear. At the very minimum, you’re going to need a helmet — if you don’t have one of your own, the event you’re attending might offer loaners. You need an M-rated helmet for autocrossing, at least according to SCCA standards. The exact specifications might vary from track to track, though, so make sure you’ve got the right one. 

Yes, these helmets are expensive. However, if you’re going to spend a lot of time on the autocross track, you must invest in one that will keep you safe in an accident. 

Drive, Drive and Drive Some More

The only way you’re going to get better as an autocross driver is to get out on the track and practice. Don’t stay at home until it’s time to race. Join a club, go to events and spend as much time on the track as you can afford. A lot of autocross racing is muscle memory — acting instinctually when a new challenge or obstacle comes up because you know how your car is going to react. 

Drive, drive and drive some more. Your finish times will thank you. 

Have Fun and Race Well

Getting into autocross isn’t as complicated as you might think. It can take a bit of an investment —especially if your daily driver is a minivan or something that would look incredibly out of place on an autocross track. However, if you want to start racing, this is the perfect place to get your feet wet. 

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