Autocross 101

By Colin Blake

What is an Autocross?

For those of you who are new to the club or have never been to an autocross event before, you’re probably wondering what an autocross is. An autocross is a test of your ability to drive your car, as fast as you can, around a marked out course. Events are held in large open spaces and all of our events are held on the disused airfield at Fort Devens in Ayer, MA. The course is marked out with small rubber cones and a single run of the course typically takes about 60-80 seconds. Although an autocross is a timed event and the fastest drivers win, each car races separately against the clock, and therefore there is no chance of making contact with another car.

Do I have the right car?

It doesn’t matter what kind of Porsche you have, old or new, you’re able to compete in an autocross. Cars are classified according to speed and handling ability and so if you’re driving a Type 356 you won’t find yourself competing against the 911’s. The vast majority of cars at an autocross are unmodified street cars which people drive everyday. You don’t need expensive upgrades or fancy trailers for autocross. This is a very cheap sport!

Will it hurt my car?

People who have never been to an autocross always ask this question, and rightly so. First, there is no head to head racing. Each car competes alone, against the clock, on an otherwise deserted airfield. So there is no chance of you hitting anything (except the rubber cones!). Second, speeds are much lower than at track events, so you’re not going to be thrashing your engine or boiling your brake fluid. You won’t be doing any more "harm" to your car than you would in normal spirited driving. And let’s face it; these German engineered cars are made to be driven.

I’m too slow

No one expects you to be an expert your first couple of events. As with most things, you will get better with experience and time as you learn more about your car, your driving, and autocross in general. The primary goals are learning how your car handles and having fun, and the chances are, regardless of your times, you’re going to do both of these.

A typical day

Plan on arriving about 7:30 in the morning. Registration opens at 7:30 and you can start walking the course at around 8:00. Drivers’ meeting is around 9:00 and we hope to have first car off around 9:30. All entrants are spilt into two run groups. While one group is running, the other group is working (flagging, watching for downed cones, etc). After about 60-90 minutes the groups switch over. Everyone gets to run twice and work twice through the day. Expect to drive the course 6-8 times. At the end of the day awards are given out and we’re usually all done by about 4:30.

See you there!

For dates of all of our autocross events check out the autocross section of this NCR web site. And while you’re there check out the First Timer’s Guide too. You’ll also see dates of NER events posted. Although NER is a different region, they also hold almost identical events at Fort Devens, and NCR members are very welcome. In fact you’ll meet the same people as you do at our events. So, now you know a little about autocrossing, why not give it a try. You won’t believe how much fun it can be. See you there!