Smooth is Fast Autocross Performance: Daily Practice

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Good street tire with loads of grip for autox. And should last me a good 2 years at least. I saw those tires mentioned over and over again on this thread; are really that good?? Should I be looking into getting a pair of those if I starting doing this more seriously once I get started? Thank you for the information. This is all really helpful! They're a great inexpensive summer performance tire, they're a rebranding of the old Potenza RE tire. They are not on the same level as the RER. It is THE tire, but also won't get many street miles out of it.

So for a person with 1 set of wheels, tires like the Indy s are great. Considering I only got 30, miles out of the tires that came with my car from the factory, that's not too bad. You CAN get that out of re71rs. But most people don't. Also, really depends on your climate. Here in FL they heat up and lose tread faster than someone where it isn't as warm year round.

For autox, absolutely. These tires have relatively low road noise, instant grip don't require as much warming up as some others , good wet traction, will last k miles if driven gently and are exceptionally well priced. Do they offer a ton of sizes and stuff? Like for instance for my WRX in 18 inch wheels? I could google it, but for the sake of conversation i'd rather ask you unless you don't know then i'll google it haha.

Yeah they do. All the big sizes. Go to Tirerack. Should find it there. Reading thread, your main concern seems to be engine damage. Best way to avoid this is to make sure all fluids are reasonably fresh, FULL check oil!!! If you're going to be autocrossing a lot you might want to go to a more frequent oil change schedule.

But the most important thing is to always check your dipstick and make sure your oil is topped up. Good deal and you are correct!

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I already change my oil every 6 months and drive less than 7, miles a year so the engine is in great shape and the oil is always fresh! I check very diligently now, but I will have to pick up an extra thing of oil to bring with me to an event or something if I notice it's low to top it off. Thank you for the advice! I autocrossed my daily for a couple years, and didn't have much of a problem. It will increase maintenance requirements and increase wear. Here are things I found:. You may want to be conservative with your starting launches; with your AWD, launching at too high an RPM can cause damage to your transmission.

Change your oil more frequently, change your brake fluid frequently, and keep an eye on all your fluid levels. Luckily for me I don't drive much and I my maintenance levels might even out with some people as I usually only put like 7, or less miles on my car per year. I already check my fluid levels very diligently and i'll be even more diligent once I start doing this!

To touch a few of the items you added:. Sorry if you've long since forgotten this thread, but I figured I would answer your questions since you asked. The wheel bearings will wear out faster by racing, the cornering loads are higher and will cause them to heat up more than regular driving. My daily at the time was a 02 Grand Am, so being a heavier car it makes them more prone to wear by racing.

It looks like WRXs have a sealed bearing and hub, so really the only thing to watch for is abnormal noise while driving that might indicate the bearing is wearing out, but even when racing, they usually last years. It seems like your oil change interval would probably be fine, but I'm not sure if having a turbo changes how often you want to change the oil when racing or not. Thanks for that information. However, I still didn't wanna damage my daily driver if Auto Cross was gonna be too hard on the car. This is really helpful, thank you. FYI the tune puts your car out of the stock class where it's competitive.

If you're mid-bottom pack at local events people might not care but if you start getting trophies and going to nationals people will definitely care. Launch control will be a dead giveaway that you aren't running a stock tune. I will have to keep that in mind I definitely don't wanna be "cheating" per-say, but I think from all the talk around here I've decided I won't be using the launch control for a bit until I get used to rolling starts and can get a better idea of what I can do with the car.

Autocross is fine for a maintained daily. Look up the scca tech inspection list and check your own car before any event. If you have a problem while racing, it simply would have happened later on the street. Better to have 50 or gearheads around to lend a hand. Think of them as work shoes and dancin' shoes. Autocross is way less likely to bend wheels than running over a pothole, that's for sure. The only way I'd see it being an issue is if someone bought the cheapest possible wheels for the bling factor and then took them to the track. I could imagine stress-crack situations.

The wheels could be used, as well. So keep an eye out, and you might get a stonking good deal.

The differences between average, good, and great autocrossers

But do yourself a favor and wrap them in good summer rubber. Not only do all-season tires have less grip, but autocross tends to punish all-season tires way harder than it does sticky summer tires. Just keep the UTQG treadwear to or higher and you'll stay in stock class. Unless you're driving mi to an event, you can change the wheels in the comfort of your own garage and drive to the track on the summer tires.

No need to worry about hauling them to the event. If you don't have them, you'll want a real floor jack I recommend the Harbor Freight and a torque wrench--I recommend Harbor Freight here, as well. Oil change is already good to go! I only drive like 7, miles a year and change my oil every 6 months. So I am almost always on fresh synthetic oil. As for the "rims", at one point in my teenage years I did call them "rims" and someone already beat me down into calling them Wheels.

So i've been trained hahaha. I unfortunately don't have a garage, I own my house and all that; but I have street parking. However I already have a nice jack and stands, but no torque wrench an electric one anyway, I need to get one. So i'm part of the way there! I just need to get some wheels now.

I wouldn't use them for precise work like torquing head bolts, but for lugs, it'll do the job. I'm an idiot, my brain wasn't thinking when I typed that out. I do have a torque wrench. So something that may not have been said yet, it's probably a good idea to accelerate some maintenance items before each season.

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Honestly the biggest wear is going to be the tires, your car is a bit heavier so you'll get a bit on the brakes too but it's really going to be the tires that will take the hit. I have a WRX which I daily drive a bit over 30k miles. I autocrossed it for two seasons and just started rallycrossing it. So far no issues. For autocross I didn't touch it; D Street with only a stiff rear anti-sway.

For rallycross; disconnect the rear sway and I just received my primitive racing front skid plate. I wish I could Rallycross so bad. There is nothing near me at all though. It's not bad to autocross in. I used my WRX initially since I needed to focus on improving my skills rather than the car.

It performs very well in D Street but that's on wide tires. Here's how it looks. How do you know where to go in certain spots? It's like the cones don't tell you much and there are lines everywhere. Plus the cones are knocked over and destroyed, I just get so confused watching these videos cause I feel like I'm not gonna do the track right when I go You walk the course in before you run.

Autocross is a mental sport and although confusing at first it usually takes a couple runs at first for people to get the hang of reading the course.


I feel like I have a lot ahead of me. I really just need to go out and just get involved I guess haha. I have autocrossed my daily for years, including full national competition schedules and every event in two local regions, always with 2 drivers, first in Stock then in Street Touring, and to work every day.

As long as you keep up with maintenance it shouldn't be a problem. Well rallycross is off the table anyway, there doesn't seem to be any of those left anymore in Western PA anyway. So it's autocross or nothing haha. Thanks for the information on the car, that helps me a lot more.

I definitely think I'm gonna give it a shot this summer and see how I do. Do not under any circumstances "launch" the car during an autocross. It's not worth it and it is the fastest way to break your car. You'll be completely fine if you follow those rules : An autocross never breaks stockish production cars unless you really really abuse the car.

Well as I commented to a few other people. Western PA is fresh out of Rallycross so I won't be doing that so no worries! I see a few people mentioning launches, but no one saying not to launch yet except for this comment. Is this a "newbie launch" recommendation or a general one? What do you do? So I won't be going launch crazy, but I do wanna try it.

What are your thoughts around the whole thing? At the autocrosses I've been to the starting lights are usually a few yards away from where you actually do your standing start so a quick pull away is sufficient. Putting it in the 2 step launch control and dumping the clutch will break stuff eventually Even really hard clutch slips are hard on the transmission and transfer case not just the clutch.

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If you get wheel spin in an AWD car you are probably launching it hard enough to damage stuff. If you are drag racing it's the price you pay but for a DD at an autocross you might pick up one or two hundredths of a second, just not worth the potential to break stuff. Then I learned how to load up the drivetrane and launch with a hard clutch slip. The trans and t-case broke about a year into ownership. I had it built by a reputable shop that specializes in EVO transmissions.

I continued launching the "right" way and that trans lasted about 2 years. Subarus have stouter transmissions but it's still a time bomb if you decide to launch it all the time. We had a R35 GTR snap a drive shaft off the line. It was certainly making more than stock I've seen a modified RSTI break something transmission related. Another grenade 2nd gear. Both of these guys drive insanely hard. The best advice I have for you is to show up and drive. Don't do anything to your car beyond checking the oil and brakes follow the tech inspection guidelines for whichever club you run with.

The club usually has a number of volunteer positions during the events that need filling and the help is greatly appreciated. Well, yes and no. If you are an overly aggressive driver that likes to over rev the engine, dump the clutch and burn lots of rubber, then yes you might hurt something. If you are a reasonably practiced and skilled driver that understands your cars limits then it is extremely unlikely that you will hurt anything. Of course, autocrossing, like any high performance driving endeavor, does put additional stress on some parts, particularly tires, brakes and suspension components, but much of this can be alleviated through good maintenance practices and using quality parts and fluids.

If you run twenty autocrosses a year for five years you might need to replace something related to racing…maybe. Actually a vehicle is at a much greater risk of damage when driven on public roads. Potholes, road debris, careless drivers, shopping carts, storm drains, you name it, are just a few of the hazards found on the everyday commute to work or trip to the store. Of course, there is a slight element of risk as there is in any dynamic auto activity, but autocross courses are laid out so that the risk is minimal and the fun factor is really, really big.

Many autocrossers have a dedicated set of tires just for racing. If you are still concerned about safety or would like to get some driving instruction from a seasoned veteran autocrosser, why not attend an autocross driving school? These are held around the Northwest during the racing season. Our club has adopted a new rule that allows drivers to ride with each other. This enables everyone to accellerate their autocross learning curve by helping each other. My personal approach is to keep the shock absorber settings fairly light and let them simply serve their original purpose, which is to damp unwanted spring oscillations.

This is another area where what feels best may not be the fastest, and back-to-back time comparisons are essential. Although front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive cars may differ greatly in their designs, the basic principles involved in racing them are similar. There is not as much difference as some people think. In either case, the driver must take the car to the cornering limit, then balance the car at that limit through delicate use of the throttle, steering and brakes—the only controls available.

Subtle differences in technique can be used to extract maximum performance, and each car will respond differently to the inputs of the driver. Correct Line: In all race cars, on all race tracks, it is essential to be on the correct line, which is generally the most gentle curve that can be fit through the maneuver. Precision is vital in autocrossing, even more than in road racing since the size of the track is scaled down. If a pylon is keeping you from straightening out a maneuver even more, then you know that you will have to nearly touch that pylon as you pass by it.

To leave room next to it is to give away valuable time. Aggressiveness is important, but only up to the point at which precision is compromised. The winning driver is the one who can coax the car around the course on that ideal line while maintaining the maximum possible speed, just shy of sliding off-line. A common habit of front-wheel-drive pilots is the tendency to turn the steering wheel too much.


As simple as it sounds, this is a major limitation on the competitiveness of many drivers. Front-wheel-drive cars nearly always understeer, and the driver may tend to crank in more and more steering as the car strays from the intended line. The poor, overloaded outside front tire is already operating at an excessive slip angle, and more steering just makes things worse. Along with too much steering, drivers tend to apply too much power to their front wheels while cornering. Give those poor front tires a break.

It's not just the cars, it's the people.

If you want them to deliver maximum cornering load, then you had better not ask for much acceleration or braking force at the same time. Easing off the throttle will generally allow the car to turn better, although in those rare front-drivers with limited-slip differentials, application of power can help pull the car around a corner. Try this experiment: The next time you reach the limit in steady-state cornering, lift off the accelerator and see if you can feel the car turn in sharper.

All methods have their pros and cons, and their proponents and opponents.

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Times when my speed is limited by steering, not by cornering force? Do I tend to steer too much? Do I lack the strength to turn the wheel fast enough at times? The goal is to gently transfer vehicle loading from braking to cornering. Ideally, trail braking enables later braking, and the heavily loaded front tires will respond well to initial steering input.

The transition from braking to cornering can be tricky for the driver to master, however, and the additional braking forces may simply overload the outside-front tire. Also, the lightly loaded rear wheels are susceptible to lockup, a condition that can start the back end sliding around.

That may be good if the driver is expecting it and uses it to get the car started around the corner, but can be very bad when the car ends up backing into the turn. For various reasons, some cars respond better than others to trail braking. Our Honda Civic Si, for example, loved a little trail-brake to get it started around a corner, while our A2-chassis VW Jetta never seemed to care for the extra load on the front tires. Each time I drive a new car, I make a point of trail braking into a corner one with runoff room to see if it makes the car turn better.

If the car seems to like it, I make it a standard practice for that car. Trailing throttle can be thought of as a kinder, gentler form of trail braking. As discussed previously, most cars turn in more sharply under lift-throttle conditions, whether front- or rear-wheel drive. Left-Foot Braking: Left-foot braking has become popular among autocrossers in the last decade, but it is not a technique that I practice or recommend. In theory, a left-foot braker can make a quicker and smoother transition from acceleration to braking, and vice versa.

In practice, my observation has been that most left-foot brakers use the brakes far too much, resulting in slower times, loss of steering precision, and overheated brakes. Personally, I have tried the technique, and simply not found it to be beneficial, but I know several top level drivers who practice left-foot braking religiously.


The only type of car in which I believe it would be valuable is a turbocharged car with an automatic transmission, where it would allow the driver to maintain boost and eliminate turbo lag by keeping a load on the engine. Slaloms: Slaloms are the playground of front-wheel-drive cars, one place where they can make up time on the rear-drivers. Typically, the rapid transitions of a slalom promote instability of a car, in a manner that I call the Pendulum Effect.

It has a technical name that sounds more sophisticated. You know the feeling: The tail swings a little bit one way, then farther the other way each time the car turns, wagging its way through the slalom until the car either scrubs off speed or spins out of control. The front-wheel-drive car, with its forward weight bias, tends to be more stable here. If the tail swings out, the driver need only apply power and keep the front wheels pointed the way he wants to go, to pull the car out of the incipient spin. In fact, an aggressive front-wheel-drive racer can power his way through slaloms with abandon, rolling off the throttle a bit if understeer takes over.

Lines: Lines through a corner are really very similar for front- and rear-wheel-drive cars. Every basic driving principal that applies to rear-wheel-drive cars also applies to front-wheel-drive cars. Since the front-drivers have trouble accelerating while under any cornering load, the importance of a late apex and straight exit from a corner is greater.

Once again, many front-wheel-drive drivers tend to apply too much power and too much steering, when backing off on both would relieve the front tires and free the car to achieve a higher exit speed. Of course, those fortunate front-drivers with limited-slip differentials benefit from power application, as discussed earlier. Downshift: Nearly every autocross course includes a tight corner where the driver must decide whether or not to downshift to first gear. The rule of thumb has always been to try staying with the higher gear, and only plan to downshift on the next run if the rpm proved to be too low at the exit corner.

The distraction of the downshift, the potential for missed shifts, the engine braking effects and the likely wheelspin all tend to offset the theoretical performance advantage of downshifting. For front-wheel-drive cars, the drawbacks of downshifting are greater, and the benefits less. First gear wheelspin is likely to much worse, and when a front wheel start to spin, steering precision goes away, making it difficult for the driver to maintain his intended line.

Torque steer can also wrest the steering wheel away from the driver. Also, the application of power detracts from the cornering power of the front driver. All things considered, a front-wheel-drive car can stand to chug around a corner at low rpm in second gear and still be quicker than it would be in first. Through the years, I have seen drivers achieve big improvements in time simply by resisting the temptation to downshift. Front-wheel-drive cars are here to stay, and will continue to dominate the marketplace, even though rear-drivers have natural advantages for high performance and racing applications.

Going fast in front-wheel-drive cars involves understanding and accepting the differences, but applying the techniques that race drivers have always used. The second sentence seemingly conflicts with the first, and with my understanding. When an inside wheel is lifted the sway bar is having as much effect as possible - the spring on the inside wheel, and the unsprung weight of that corner, is free to push down fully on that side of the sway bar, reducing suspension compression on the other side to the greatest extent possible.