If you're interested in autocross but you're not sure what you need to do to get ready...keep reading.
Even though autocross is relatively slow and there is no wheel-to-wheel racing, you still need to ensure your car is ready. You do NOT want to pay your registration fees, get up at 5:30, drive to the AX event, and get in the tech line...only to learn that your car isn't ready.
* Ensure you have plenty of brake pad left.
* Check to ensure your wheel bearings aren't loose. Put on a pair of gloves, grab the outside of the tire in the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions, and wiggle that sucker as hard as you can. If you feel nothing but resistance, you're good. If you feel the wheel wiggling even a little bit side-to-side, your wheel bearings may need to be checked.
* Pop the front trunk, pull off the battery cover, and ensure that the battery is clamped solidly to the battery tray.
* Also ensure the battery vent lines are properly installed.
* Remove ALL extra crap from the cabin. You don't want your physics textbook or cell phone bouncing around on-track.
* Check your tire pressure. If you're new to autocross, just use the factory-recommended tire pressure.
* Torque your lug bolts / lugnuts. Don't be that Mazda guy whose wheels fell off...
* Check your local PCA site (or SCCA, or whoever you're AXing with) for helmet requirements. Many clubs, like PCA San Diego, rent helmets.
* If you decide you like AX, buy your own helmet. Nothing is more gross than slapping on someone else's sweaty, hot helmet.
* Do as much of your paperwork in advance as possible. The PCA Zone 8 site makes it easy - since my car's details are already recorded on the site, I can print out a pre-filled tech inspection sheet with my car's points already calculated.
* Find a buddy. Autocross can be intimidating the first couple of times.
* Find an instructor with a similar car. Driving tips from a 70's vintage 911 are handy, but you'd be better off finding an instructor with a car similar to yours so they can give you the information you need re: driving dynamics, driver aids, etc...maybe that guy with the 911SC is really cool, but the slightly-less-cool dude with the car just like yours is a better bet.
Autocross is a ton of fun, isn't nearly as hard on your car (or you) as TT and DE events, requires minimal car prep, and is one of the cheapest track days you can have. Give it a try...you won't be disappointed.
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