What Is Autocross?
Autocross, also known as gymkhana, slalom or the trademarked SCCA name of Solo II, has become one of the most popular amateur motorsports in the country in recent years. What is it? As defined by our insurance carrier: ” An autocross or Solo II event is a COMPETITIVE EVENT, driving skill contest conducted on courses that emphasize car handling and agility rather than speed or power. The course generally consists of STRAIGHT sections and connecting TURNS or corners, as marked by pylons, generally resembling a miniature road course.”
Blah, blah, blah. What is it, really? It’s an opportunity to test the limits of your driving skills and your car in a safe and legal environment. It’s a challenge. It’s a rush. It’s a whole lot of fun! It’s a great way to learn car control to prepare yourself for emergency situations on the street, too.
Courses are usually set up on large parking lots or unused airport runways. They are a diabolical collection of turns and straights marked by orange rubber traffic cones. Safety is a primary consideration when designing a course, and speeds normally do not exceed typical highway driving speeds, so you should feel comfortable competing in an autocross. But the excitement far exceeds the level of speed and danger involved!
Autocross is not a “wheel-to-wheel” race as you would see on a closed road course or the local circle track. Drivers navigate the course one car at a time competing only against the clock. We will normally start another car before the car on course finishes, but at no time will the cars ever be at risk of coming into contact with each other. Each run is timed to the nearest 1/1000th of a second, and yes, many autocrosses have been won or lost by just that much. A time penalty of two seconds is added to the driver’s time for each cone that is displaced, and no time is awarded should the driver go “off course” for any reason.
With very few exceptions, almost any type of car or pickup can enter an autocross. We draw the line at tall top-heavy SUV’s and minivans, but most anything else is welcome, and it doesn’t have to be fast to be fun! Bring your favorite sports car, new or old. Bring your grocery-getter and see what it can do (you might be surprised). Bring your old beater and just have some fun!