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Autocross Question

Old 04-10-03, 07:52 PM
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Autocross Question

I have tried doing three Autocrosses now. I'm not really very good at it, but I think part of my problem is that I get lost in all of the cones. Does anyone have any good suggestions of how I can remember the course a little better when I'm running it?

I tried walking the course around three times before running, but I don't end up running until later in the day. All of the chalk marks that were used to help see the course are rubbed off by the time I get to run. I ended up having two DNF's out of my three runs last Sunday. That is really frustrating!!!

I have a lot of experience with High Speed Driving Schools with MSCW at VIR, but this Autocross stuff is a totally different world in my opinion.

- Cody
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Old 04-10-03, 10:42 PM
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We're fortunate here in that the region actually posts the course maps online befoerethe event but...you could try to sketch it out on paper while you're walking so you have something to look at while you're waiting to run.
It gets easier to read the cones after you've been doing it a while. just walk the course as much as you can and keep at it.

Cory Waters
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Old 04-11-03, 12:41 AM
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every course here gives out a map, other than that it is going to take some seat time before you get the hang of what everything means, just always be looking way ahead
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Old 04-11-03, 08:26 AM
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Your problem was the same I had and the same I see nearly every other novice have. I can tell you I never was able to get the course down in the beginning with only 3 walks; 5 or 6 was not uncommon for me.

Try and simplify the course in your mind and remember the general shape; as in I make a left, into the slalom, big open right, short straight into the loop etc as opposed to trying to memorize every cone on the course. The other thing you will get drilled into your head from now to eternity is look ahead, look ahead, look ahead. If you are entering one turn and have not found the entry to the next, you're behind. A quick sketch on paper will help a lot as well.

Rule Number 1 is to make a clean run first time out. If that means drive very slow, so be it. Once you make a good run you'll remember the course and can attack it with your successive runs.

I found that after the first ten events or so something in my mind just clicked and it learned to read the language of the course so to speak; remembering the course just got easier.

Autocross is completely different from road racing and anybody who has tried both realizes the difference. I go to track days and do 120 mph+ and feel like I am just resting in the car, it's not near as busy and believe it or not the car is more sedate because the corners are so long compared to anything on an autox course.

An instructor told me long ago that good autocrossers are always good road racers, but the converse is not necessarily true. I have not seen him disproven yet.
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Old 04-11-03, 09:53 AM
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Get there early. Walk the course as many times as your legs will allow you (or your back, for you old fogies). Try to visualize a smooth line throughout the course and memorize it. If you're not on the line, then you're losing time. Find the key cones for each entry. Focus on the key cones and ignore the rest. That should help you be "less confused" as you navigate a course.

Position over speed. As you learn to get the car positioned correctly through each gate/slalom/sweeper, you will learn how to carry more speed. And, as an added bonus, course designers generally like to "reward" you for being on the right line ... so you should be able to see the next gate coming. Or better yet, you'll see a faster line.

And Damon is absolutely, positively, no-nuts-about-it correct. Look ahead, look ahead, look ahead. Looking ahead helps you be smooth. And smoother drivers are always the faster guys. Also, looking ahead does NOT mean stare ahead. Scan the field for your key cones. This will help you get the car on the correct line. The rest is up to you.
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Old 04-11-03, 10:25 AM
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If you are not working the course or driving ask someone if you can ride with them. Even the serious guys will let you ride if it is their first run or two. Also I may look stupid when I walk the course but I walk it with my imaginary steering wheel. I visuallize turning and leaning into every turn in the car.
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Old 04-11-03, 10:45 AM
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Thanks for the tips guys. I think I understand the concept of finding the lines. When walking the course I tried to figure out what line to take between turns and through the beginning and end of the slalom. I even tried to keep in mind which turns to "sacrifice" by slowing down so that I could have a higher exit speed.

I believe that not looking ahead is what killed me. I was too focused on trying to make sure I got through each corner/section of the course correctly. I had learned the "look ahead" concept from riding motorcycles and the High Speed Driving classes. I just was overwhelmed with there being so many turns in such a short distance. This is a big change from VIR. I had more time to look ahead. Live and learn I suppose.

Incase anyone is reading this thread and has similar troubles I found a few websites with some useful information.

http://www.tulsavetteset.com/autocross/autox101.htm

http://www3.telus.net/solomotorsport/driving.htm

Again thanks for the tips.

- Cody
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Old 04-11-03, 09:40 PM
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Do an Evolution Phase 1. They do classes at VMP. That'll do the trick for sure. Check out their site link on autocross.com/evolution.

Tomas
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Old 04-21-03, 06:00 PM
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Along with drawing a map of the course.Write a description of the course that will help you visualize it . After walking the course as many times as you can,Sit it your car and use your notes to make a mental run of the course.Do it again just before you runs! Any areas that youre not sure how to take, Watch the best drivers,watch thier brake lights,listen for the throttle.Set up a video camera in your car ,tape your runs, Watch thr tape between runs, it will let you know where you went off course,where you can go faster. I used to hook up a cheap 12 volt B&W tv to play back my runs. The tape will teach you alot.
Good Luck,B
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Old 04-21-03, 10:22 PM
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Our club never chalks the lines...

Now to remeber the course, I actually try to walk it the least possible (perhaps because I am lazy). To get to know the course the fastest possible, you got to run trough it as many times as possible and the fastest way to do that is in your head.

What I do is start by walking the course once, to get a general appreciation of the course and look for the optimal lines.

As you are walking trough the course the second time, break the course down into sections. Walk a small part of the course, noting all the details you will have to remember for this particular section. At the end of each "section", you MUST "redo" the course in your head. Dont be affraid to take the time to close your eyes (I visualise it better that way, and you might find yourself leaning into the turns from time to time ) repeating all the notes and visual cues you have choosen (where to look, what cone to hug, useless cones, etc.). Every time you finish a section, always restart at the biginning of the course (in you head of course) all the way to the section you just finished. By the time you are done that walk you should know the course by heart. The third walk, is to refresh your memory and give a visual dimention to your "routine" and make necessary ajustments to the line and your mental notes. Just before each run, take yourself trough the course twice more.

A side note, if you run late in the day, use that to your advantage and learn from others mistakes, you can ajust your routine in consequence.
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Old 04-23-03, 08:54 AM
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where do you run in va? is it the vmsc autox's? thats where i go and we usually run at VMP in dinwiddie. if you are there, go up in the stands when you arent running, and watch people run from above. i usually walk to course 2-5 times (as time permits). every 4-5 gates, look behind you, and imagine your car coming towards you through the gates to get a different veiw. when you just pay attension to whats infront of you in the walk through, you may forget exactly where your coming from. i found this in my first autox, i would think i could cut a corner a completely different way, but where the previous gate was, it made me slow down to much.

even if you dont run at VMP, try to find somewhere you can look from above. i think its a great advantage, and i dont see alot of drivers doing it. you can watch people and where their mistakes are, and make sure you dont follow the same.

i usually go alot slower on the first runs as well. it helps get to know the course. last time i ran, but first run was a 73.~ and my second was a 66.~. dont be afraid to go slow on your first run.
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Old 04-23-03, 10:29 AM
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I run with the Blue Ridge SCCA (brscca). They run most of their events in Southwest VA and a handful in West Virginia. They actually run up at Staunton at the Government Center. You could come out if you want. This is closer to where I grew up then where I am now.

Unfortunately I can't really look at the course from an elevated position. The only course where it is possible is at Staunton and it isn't that high off the ground in the first place.

- Cody
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Old 04-23-03, 10:42 AM
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Originally posted by DamonB
Rule Number 1 is to make a clean run first time out. If that means drive very slow, so be it. Once you make a good run you'll remember the course and can attack it with your successive runs.
I find this to be my "Golden Rule". I started doing autocrosses some 3-4 years ago, but stopped and then picked things up again last year. I had six runs my first time out after my return, and after royally screwing up the first run, I proceeded to DNF 5/6 times on the day.

Since then, I took the first one a *little* slower , and I've been the better for it.

Something like the Evolution Driving Schools are extremely helpful. I learned a ton, and hope to go back with the car I'm driving now to "re-learn" some things.

Also, it actually *helps* me to work before I run. Even though I only get to see one portion of the course, I get to see how everyone else handles it first (and memorize the motions), whether bad or good. Our usual space is smaller than many clubs though, and I can usually get a decent view of the whole course while it's being run.

G'luck with things. Have fun, no matter what you do. Fewer DNFs will help. I'm eager to get out on course again myself after a two-month hiatus...so RRR1 can thoroughly trounce my ***.

Ever run in Austin Damon? You should come down.

-E
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Old 04-23-03, 10:59 AM
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Originally posted by enuttage
Ever run in Austin Damon? You should come down.
Nope, but I do run all the National and Divisional events in Houston at Gulf Greyhound Park. Redrotor can tell you how to get there
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Old 04-23-03, 01:26 PM
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Divisionals have Street Tire and Novice classes .... come on, E. You won't regret it ... divisional/tour courses are the best.
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Old 04-23-03, 02:20 PM
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Well if things at the house would stop freakin' breaking (A/C most recently), I'd have the coin to get my race rubber. I have a $300 GC from Tirerack as it is. Just gotta scrounge the xtra $275.

When's the next Divisional? And where?

-E
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Old 04-23-03, 02:35 PM
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also when you walk the course try to stay on the line YOU will be on when in the car. i.e. not down the center or on the right side (unless RHD) but towards the left.

and dont just amble around b.s.'ing with your buddies, try to learn something. pause at the turn-in point and look for your exit. when you get to the exit, turn back to the entry point, does it still look right?
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Old 04-23-03, 04:25 PM
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Originally posted by enuttage
Well if things at the house would stop freakin' breaking (A/C most recently), I'd have the coin to get my race rubber. I have a $300 GC from Tirerack as it is. Just gotta scrounge the xtra $275.

When's the next Divisional? And where?

-E
That's what credit cards are for.

The next Divisional is May 3-4, at TMS (Texas Motor Speedway), up in DFW. You need to get your registration mailed before Saturday to avoid the late penalty. Go here:

http://autocross.com/texasregion/divisional

$40 entry fee. You'll probably want a temporary SCCA license, an extra $15. This one is really worth the expense. SCCA Regional Grand Prix is happening the same weekend at TMS. Your entry fee gets you free admission ... run/work your heat and then go watch some road racing!!!
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