An Autocross (AX) is a closed course driving event, held in a large open area such as a parking lot, or a closed dedicated track. The objective is to safely complete the course from start to finish in the shortest amount of time, and be faster than your competition. An autocross is not a race competing with other drivers on the course at the same time as you. Each driver is timed as they individually navigate the pre-defined course, marked with traffic cone pylons. Speeds are usually low, but skill is required as you learn the quickest way through the course. Autocrossing is a safe, fun, inexpensive way to learn more about driving your car, and the limits of its potential, with minimal risk to yourself or your car.
Florida Crown Region revived our Autocross program in early 2017, and it’s been well received, with an average of 40 registered drivers each event. We plan for an AX event each quarter. The FCR AX venue has been at the Regency Square Mall. Our fall event continues to be participating in the autocross held during the OktoberFast PCA Club Race event at Daytona, which is now incorporated into the Zone 12 Autocross series. Cost to enter a Florida Crown AX is currently $30. Our AX events are open to all sports cars, with a typical limit of 50 cars per event. Open karts will not be allowed. Pre-Registration is required at www.clubregistration.net.
Only registered entrants are allowed in vehicles while on course at speed. No passenger ride-alongs are allowed. If two people are in a car on course, one must be a designated autocross instructor. All vehicle occupants while on course must wear a seatbelt and an approved helmet.
Approved helmets must be manufactured to the current rating or the two previous ratings. Helmets built to Snell Foundation standards or other such standards may be approved for use. Also, any helmet approved for PCA club racing is permitted. If the car does not have a windshield, the occupants must wear eye protection specifically meant to protect eyes from flying objects (shatterproof eye protection). Footwear must be enclosed, with a non-slip, relatively smooth sole recommended.
The Minimum Age for any driving entrant is 18 years. PCA Regions, at their option, may allow for participation of 16 and 17 year old licensed drivers, who are relatives of participating adult PCA members also driving the event. These 16/17 year old licensed drivers must meet the Junior Participation Program (JPP) requirements. These include having a valid drivers license, a learners permit is not acceptable. The JPP minor participant and their PCA relative participating in the event must sign several PCA required waivers, including: The general PCA Release and Waiver of Liability form; The Junior Participation Program Minor’s Assumption of Risk Acknowledgement(Minor signs only, witnessed by a Region member at registration of the event); Waiver and Release of Liability and Indemnity Agreement for Minors(Minor and both parents/guardians sign, with requirement that the minor and at least one parent/guardian, must sign in the witness of a Region member at registration of the event. (See JPP Q&A details on the PCA web site).
What to Expect at an Autocross
You should prepare your car prior to arrival. Remove all loose items from your car, floor mats, etc. Check your tire pressure, and wheel lug nuts to ensure none are loose. When you arrive at the Autocross, you’ll see a course set up on a large parking lot. Rubber traffic cones will be used to form the course, which consists of turns, slaloms, and straights.
Arrive early to ensure plenty of time prior to the start. You’ll have to check in at Registration, even if you preregistered online. You’ll be given your run group and confirmation of car number, and required to sign a PCA Insurance Waiver. You’ll be given a wristband of your assigned color group, along with a registration sticker of a corresponding color to place on your windshield.
After your check in at registration, you will be directed to the location to have your car go through a Tech Inspection. Tech will start by verifying that you’ve been through registration first by confirming your colored registration sticker is on your windshield and you have on a corresponding wrist band. Next they’ll review your car to ensure that it is safe to be on the course, not only for your safety, but for all who are at the event. Tech performs a basic review of your car to ensure it meets the minimum requirements. This includes verifying your car is empty of all loose objects; checking the tightness of lug nuts; confirming your assigned number is correctly placed on your car; and they also verify that your helmet meets the requirements. Once you are approved by Tech, they will place another sticker on your windshield of your group color for the Course Starter to check off each of your runs. You won’t get to drive on course without these stickers on your windshield to show you’ve gone through the required processes to get you and your car approved first.
Next, all participating drivers are required to attend a Drivers Meeting prior to the event. General guidelines for the event, including safety requirements, course worker procedures, and the schedule for the day will be covered. All participants are expected to Volunteer to assist in some manner when their run group is not on the course. Be sure to ask where specific help is needed during the event, if you’re not asked first. Remember, an Autocross doesn’t happen unless many people help out in the running of the event. The course layout will also be discussed, and there will be a time after the meeting to walk the course to get an up close view of the layout. Walk the course on the line you anticipate driving. If you haven’t driven an Autocross before, or if you’d like to become a better AX driver, you can request that an instructor ride with you to advise on driving the course.
Your first run should be taken at a steady pace to learn the course, and not an attempt to have your fastest run. Keep your eyes on the course and look ahead to the next set of cones as you exit the ones you are navigating. Remember, the cones won’t cause any serious damage to your car should you hit one, but you will be assessed a timing penalty for any cones you knock over.
Although you are concentrating on the course and the cones, you must also still stay aware of the course workers and the potential for an unlikely event that may require you to stop your run. Most of all Have Fun and enjoy driving your car, and learning its potential and yours!
For Expanded Information on Autocrossing, Driving Techniques, and Detailed Guidelines on Driving Your Car, go to the National PCA web site at: www.pca.org/autocross-defined