Ambition in Economy Goes to the Autocross
Affordable entry for those looking to dip their toes into the world of racing.
For years, Whitney and I have been talking about competing against one another in our cars.
We finally made the leap when our regional Sports Car Club of America set up an event at our local airport. For a full day at $50 per car, free loaner helmets, and so long as your car was safe to operate, nothing special was required. One could bring in their daily commuter and buzz about. This is an amazingly affordable way to enter competitive motorsports.
Whitney and I were competing against a myriad of fun affordable cars such as Mazda Miatas, Ford Fiesta ST's, and some one even brought in their Chevrolet Cobalt and managed all his runs with nary an ignition switch problem. Our heat was the first to start for the day. Lucky for us as we would be the firsts to soil the loaner helmets. Whitney and I were allotted six runs each to throw down our best lap times.
Whitney receiving a coach consult from a veteran driver.
The autocross elite were extremely hospitable. A husband and wife team noticed some of our mishaps and offered to ride along. They coached both of us through our laps to ensure we were consistent with no mistakes. Their work enabled us to put down our best times. They practiced "coopertition" (cooperation and competition) at it's best.
On board Herbie with myself behind the wheel.
After a great lecture, we put the hammer down and weaved through the course. We were able to pull over ten seconds off each of our laps. Confidence grew with each lap as we honed in our techniques and searched for the upper limits of our vehicles. Whitney felt that her limits of the day were reached before the limits of Pete could be found. Both of our cars could be pushed farther than either of us were expecting.
Herbie putting the hammer down.
After our six runs, Whitney and I were left wanting more. The Central Illinois SCCA runs five events all within a 30 minute drive for us. We do not have to travel far to get our fill. The other participants made the experience all the better. Each driver was extremely helpful, and very welcoming. They were quick to toss out tricks and tips to help us to achieve our best times around the track. Everyone wanted the entire field to be running at its best. There was no trash talk, no snide remarks, no car shaming. It was just a big group of people eager to race together. The main points of focus were fun, safety, and proper tire pressure.
Whitney, resting in the paddock after her runs.
Herbie, hobnobbing with a Holden Commodore SSV in the paddock.
When we returned home, we began looking in to SCCA membership and Snell approved helmets. Pricing is well within reach of the average enthusiast. Snell approved helmets can be found for under $200 and annual SCCA membership runs $70. Well worth the cost, as this event was the most fun we have had with our cars. We definitely learned a lot. One thing would be to train our underling Matthew on how to take a proper recording of our runs. Possibly even get him out on the track for a spell.
If any are longing to start racing but fear it is out of reach financially, look into the local autocross. Get your feet wet with the thrills and excitement on the cheap.