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Autocrossing and lack of seat time

Old 03-11-05, 03:11 PM
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Autocrossing and lack of seat time

I can't even come close to hitting my stride in 3 30 second runs. I have 2 seasons under my belt but I still am nowhere near maxing out my car. Everyone was kicking my *** at the last event! The car has plenty of torque and grip, but the harder I try, the more I mess up. My fastest runs in the past (by far) have been the last of the day when I'm tired and just want to get off the course, when I don't push it. Ironically, not pushing it makes the car really fast somehow.

How long does it take to get good at autocrossing?

Last edited by 88IntegraLS; 03-11-05 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 03-11-05, 03:19 PM
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Sounds like you're over driving the car. Everybody learns at a different pace.

The surest way to get quick in a short amount of time it to go to school.

www.autocross.com/evolution
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Old 03-11-05, 03:24 PM
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Agreed. Do a school. Ride with more experienced drivers.

Particularly with autocrossing: slow down and focus on car placement and lines to speed up.
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Old 03-11-05, 03:39 PM
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Sounds like over driving. Someone told me once to go fast I need to slow down. What he meant was I should do all my braking in a straight line(or most of it) then simply steer thru the turn and accelerate out. I tried it and instantly dropped my time buy 2 seconds. It felt slower to me but the clock said otherwise.
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Old 03-11-05, 03:57 PM
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Slow in the drivers seat translates to fast times on the track.
Don't rush what you are doing or need to be doing while driving the car.
Think ahead/ prepare/ execute all in a methodical fassion.

I'm not a fan of autocrossing since there is maximum wait time and minimum seat time. To me it is like drag racing with lots of turns. I'm not knocking it at all, it's just not for me.
I prefer open track events myself.
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Old 03-11-05, 04:11 PM
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I plan to do the Evolution Autocross School before I put another nickel into my car. I have ridden with more experienced drivers in my car, and man I need training.
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Old 03-11-05, 05:02 PM
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There is actually a few things you can do to learn the course quicker...imagine it.

Thing from start to stop every turn on the track, over and over again between your runs....your brain doesn't know the difference when your learning. (by learning, I mean learning the course).

Try to get to events which have a minimal amount of people. Our club (Clemson Sports Car Club) typically has 5-8 runs a day...and moves along pretty quickly. The way I see it, autocross is best when there are about 45-55 drivers (per day) and the course is about a minute long. The way the SCCA does it really is an overload on the course in my eyes.
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Old 03-11-05, 05:03 PM
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Yeah, after a discovered track events I gave up on autox... the math is simple:

Autox:
$20
uses an entire day
5 minutes of seat time
have to chase cones

Track event: $300-400
uses 1-2 days
almost 4 hours of seat time
no cone chasing

To get as much seat time as one 2-day track event you'd have to attend 15-20 autocrosses, evening the cost, but you'd also waste 13-18 extra days chasing cones.
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Old 03-11-05, 05:20 PM
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You guys must have big events. our turnout is 40 max. Usually get 9 runs in minimum of 6 though and we are usually done in about 3-4 hours after we start. Cone pick up only takes 10 minutes cause everyone pitches in usually.
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Old 03-11-05, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by 31rx7
Ride with more experienced drivers.

Done it. Turbojeff drives the **** out of everything, and I experienced it. I try to drive like that it's not easy to do it and hold a line.
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Old 03-11-05, 06:29 PM
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Our last event was 200 cars, 1.5 min seat time, $26, and I botched my last two runs. I asked "an experienced driver" if slow-in-fast-out was a good strategy for taking the turns, and he said "fast in fast out". Every time I try that, I lose my line in the turn.

I've tried visualizing the course, walking it 5 times, getting tips from other drivers who are a lot faster than me, but I'm just not seeing it. the essence of being fast escapes me.
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Old 03-11-05, 06:31 PM
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In SoCal we pay $25 for three runs about a minute each and it's a full 8 hour day. The riceboys take up half the field STX, SM...
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Old 03-11-05, 10:38 PM
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Don't confuse quantity with quality.

If you are not concentrating and devoting a lot of thought both in and out of the car time doesn't automatically make you better. I see guys who spend entire afternoons at the track and they suck every bit as much at the end of the day as they did at the beginning. If all you needed was time we'd all drive like Schumacher.
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Old 03-11-05, 11:19 PM
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I think I've figured it out. I'm an angry person and go to autocrosses to get my anger out on the car by thrashing it around. Hence, "overdriving" I guess. It definately explains why i do a lot better when I'm getting tired and don't want to thrash as hard.
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Old 03-11-05, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by 88IntegraLS
Our last event was 200 cars, 1.5 min seat time, $26, and I botched my last two runs. I asked "an experienced driver" if slow-in-fast-out was a good strategy for taking the turns, and he said "fast in fast out". Every time I try that, I lose my line in the turn.

I've tried visualizing the course, walking it 5 times, getting tips from other drivers who are a lot faster than me, but I'm just not seeing it. the essence of being fast escapes me.
Come down to the Medford event with me, practice day = almost as much seat time as you want. It is fun and we can go out together on the track, take it slow for a few laps and figure things out.

Seriously, you'd have a blast!
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Old 03-12-05, 12:20 AM
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Sounds like a plan. Devon (the guy with the Gsl-Se) was planning on going too. If my car doesn't break by then, I'll be there.
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Old 03-12-05, 01:05 AM
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One other thing guys, I do appreciate your tips, so thanks. I'll try paying more attention to car placement.
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Old 03-12-05, 06:37 PM
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Agreed. Don't confuse time on track with quality of driving. Autocross requires you to:

- Have the course memorized with a high degree of accuracy
- Understand WHERE what you have to have the car placed in each section (straights, braking zones, entry to turns, exit of turns)
- Understand HOW to operate the car with any given setup to achieve the above placement maintaining as much momentum as possible (anyone know what a "traction circle" is?)
- EXECUTE driving the car to achieve the above

One way to look at it is that a typical autocross course has twice or three times the number of turns that a road course does. And, you have to execute the course in half the time. And, you only get a handful of chances to get it right. The decisioning is really rapid and compressed.

I would argue that first become a proficient autocrosser before getting into track events, particularly wheel to wheel racing. Autocross requires many more decisions in rapid succession with little rest time in between.

However, this depends on what your goals are. Do you want to go out and drive and high speeds and have fun? Just do open track events and don't worry too much about driving. Driving fast is really fun unto itself.

Or, do you really want to become a good driver and maybe end up as a competitive autocrosser / road racer? If so, invest in autocrossing and schools before getting on the open track.

When I first started autocrossing (back when pylons were made of wood), my wife used to be quicker than me (and the rest of the guys for that matter) all the time. It was the most frustrating automotive experience I have ever had. When I finally rode with her, I realized it was because she was much smoother inside the car, transitioning weight much smoother than me. Conversely, I was yanking the wheel and mashing the gas like an animal. Once I controlled my agressive style, I actually got a lot quicker.

Of course, then I had to learn how to place the car and where it needed to be, but that's another story.

One additional note: there are no simple answers like "slow down to go fast", "fast in fast out", or "look two or three turns ahead". All of these things have their place. If you can, see if you can get connected with somebody who is willing to coach and critique you on an ongoing basis. Have them ride with you so they can tell you what you are doing wrong. If you are riding with more experienced drivers, you may recognize that they are faster but you may not be able to fully observe what they are doing to make themselves faster. A person who is willing to act as a mentor or coach can be of tremendous value.

Slow down your movements to go fast. Autocross every weekend and ride with better drivers to get better. Do Evolution and other schools every chance you get. Invest in yourself and your driving first, then your car.

Last edited by 31rx7; 03-12-05 at 06:43 PM. Reason: One additional note:
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Old 03-12-05, 09:38 PM
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I think schools are fine, but I find you can learn more from experienced drivers in your own region or club without the need for paying for a school, if you are reasonably polite.

In my local region, I have access to numerous national champions and national trophy winners. They are more than willing to do ride alongs and drive alongs. I always remember they are racer as well, do don't waste their time.

Here is what I do if I am having a problem...

I work only one specific problem or technique at a time. Without a goal, you waste everyone's time. I speak with drivers ahead of time about what I am trying to improve. We share info. I will ride along with at least two different drivers observing techniques I would like to improve. I like different drivers to watch for style differences. I will then do a run or two of my own. Then I ask one of them to observe me in the car. I usually always pick drivers who have a similar car to my own.

In my region, we usually do $1.00 per lap fun runs at the end of the day. I very rarely take a lap without a specifc purpose.

You will be suprised how fast you will improve. Just keep an open mind, be polite.
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Old 03-13-05, 12:18 AM
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$1 fun runs! I only wish. When one of our local clubs has them, they're $5, and that club has first gear only courses.

My last couple of runs I kept reminding myself to stay on the gas a long as possible and turn the wheel the least. Problem was, there was a nice little straight where I could open it up, and I didn't want to brake very hard going into the turn (which was decreasing radius as usual). But the technique seemed to work though through the ugly parts of the course.

The biggest frustration of the day was this one gate that was right in the sun. Our group was the last of a long day and the sun was getting low, and what would have been my best run included me cutting the gate because I looked ahead after the slalom and all I saw was the chicago box after the gate. Man I was pissed.

Goals? I dunno, to make the most of my car on the course I guess. To get in the flow, the zone, when you know you're on the edge of losing it but still in control.
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Old 03-14-05, 09:30 AM
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Another thing you might do is set up an in car camera, and have a more experienced driver co-drive with you. Then you can watch their movements VS yours. You might be surprised how slowly, and how little they move their hands.
Having one person mentor you helps a lot too, since they can help you work on specific problems and know your history (recurring problems/mistakes).
Good luck
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Old 03-14-05, 10:42 AM
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If you feel like making the trip down to Eureka next weekend we'll be having a (2 day) drivers school and autocross for $65. We've got professional racers instructing and the entry fee includes breakfast at the Samoa Cookhouse. Check out http://www.rscc2.com/2005feb/2005rsccfebnews.htm for details.
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Old 03-14-05, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Travis R
Another thing you might do is set up an in car camera, and have a more experienced driver co-drive with you. Then you can watch their movements VS yours. You might be surprised how slowly, and how little they move their hands.
Having one person mentor you helps a lot too, since they can help you work on specific problems and know your history (recurring problems/mistakes).
Good luck
Here is what you need....

Synchronised in car video with data acquistion to help you drive better.

http://www.stackinc.com/synchronisedvideo.html

To bad it's not financially viable for most of us who would/could use it the most.

Seriously, it's too bad clubs could not afford a system like this. In a learning enviornment, video with data acquistion would increase a driver's ability to improve at much faster rate.

Last edited by RussinStk; 03-14-05 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 03-14-05, 03:31 PM
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Just do what I do.

Don't overthink the situation, just look ahead to the next gate and try to get to it as quick as you can. Try to maintain a smooth flow without punching in and punching out. Use the brakes sparingly. And drive a Fiesta.
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Old 03-14-05, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by RussinStk
Here is what you need....

Synchronised in car video with data acquistion to help you drive better.

http://www.stackinc.com/synchronisedvideo.html

To bad it's not financially viable for most of us who would/could use it the most.
You don't need any of that until you've exhausted your instructors and/or the brains of people who drive better than you. Data does you no good if you can't drive consistently and also understand how changes you make in your driving effect your times.

I use Geez! and an in car camera and I already have nearly too much data
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