A First Timers guide to Autocross

By Scott Martineau

The NCR autocross program is designed to provide an avenue for improving your driving skills. Autocrosses take place in large parking lots or in our case airport runways. The goal is to navigate a course of traffic cones in the least amount of time. Timing is accomplished with start and finish line trip lights that feed your time into the computer database. You are grouped with other drivers of similar cars and your times are scored to see who is the fastest. If you hit cones during your run, penalty seconds are added to your time. In the case of autocross, neatness counts! Normally, you will get 8+ runs through the course.

If you are a first timer, instructors are available to help you learn the ropes. No special equipment is required except a helmet with a Snell 2010 or better rating. A small number of loner helmets are available. If you have never attended an autocross, the following is what you can expect:

Arrive early and Register. The gates open at 7:00 AM. Registration opens at 7:30AM and closes at 8:30AM. You must register at the table under the tent located at the start/finish line of the course. See the drivers meeting section for information on worker assignments. White shoe polish can be used to write the number on your rear quarter windows.
Empty your Car. You must empty your car of all loose belongings. This would include anything that may come loose during hard cornering. This would include radar detectors, cassette tapes or last weeks laundry. Lock you glove box door and remove your floor mats. We wouldn't want anything to interfere with your pedals.
Line up for Technical inspection. Technical inspection starts at 7:30AM and ends at 8:30AM. Technical inspection for autocross is not very strict. There are however several areas that must be checked to help insure a safe event. If your car passes a state inspection, most likely you will not have trouble passing. When the inspection is complete you will receive a small sticker for you windshield. The items checked are:
  • Tires with visible tread
  • Secure Lug nuts
  • Secure Battery
  • No loose object is the car
  • Operable seat belts
  • Properly adjusted wheel bearings
  • Properly operating throttle
  • Car Numbers
  • Open cars must have roll bars. Factory roll hoops on Boxsters are acceptable
  • Snell 2010 or better helmet







Study the course. By 8:00AM the course of cones will be set up and available to walk. In autocross it is important to concentrate on your speed, not learning the course during your runs. Walking the course helps familiarize you with the layout so you are not spending the first 4 runs trying to find out which way to turn. Two course walks are a recommended minimum.
Attend the drivers meeting. Drivers meeting will be called at 9:00AM. The meeting will cover the rules and general information about the event. At the drivers meeting you will also receive your instructions on your worker assignment. You cannot run if you do not work. Each person will be assigned a worker station on the course where you will be responsible for resetting any cones that are hit by other entrants. Each worker station will be given a radio so that you can report penalty cones to the scorers. You will be given instruction at the drivers meeting. The drivers will be divided into 2 groups, group 1 will work while group 2 drives and visa versa. Each group will run at least 3 runs before switching places.

Find out what a novice thought of his first time out.