How to Become a Weekend Racecar Driver

by RainF 25. August 2014 05:21

When the first automobiles were created, drivers had one thing on their mind: to go faster. This desire spawned a variety of auto sports that have long become global events people love to watch year after year. Formula One, NASCAR and The 24 Hours of Le Mans are the most recognized and oldest racing championships.

People at home who watch these races dream of taking their cars out to the track and competing with other drivers.  Most of us don’t intend to make a career out of racing, but would enjoy burning rubber and testing our skills on a track. The growing sport of Autocross is a great entry point for anyone who wants to test their racing skills in a safe and competitive environment with their own car. 

Rain's MX-5 NC (Miata)We have a few guys in our office who participate in Autocross events on the weekends, and they have a few pieces of advice for you before you get out there.

Be a Member of SCCA

Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) was founded in 1944 with one mission in mind: Bring motorsports to those who are passionate about it. As a member, you’ll be given advance notice of Autocross events in your area and discounts on registration for those events. It’s also a chance to connect with other car enthusiasts and get tips on improving your car or driving techniques.

Preparing for the Event

Before any Autocross event, it’s best to get your car checked out by your trusted mechanic to make sure everything is in working order and that it can handle the stress of pushing it under the extreme conditions of racing. If you’re the DIY type, you want to make sure these things are checked and addressed:

  • Secure the battery with a hold down bracket
  • Tighten lug nuts to secure the tires
  • Replace worn brake pads
  • Top off fluids (Oil, brake, coolant, steering, etc.)
  • Inspect and tighten up items, such as the oil filter
  • Have at least a half tank of gas
  • Check belts and replace if needed

You should not take your car out of the garage unless you’re confident it will be safe for the Autocross event. Once your car has been given a clean bill of health, increase the tire pressure on your tires to stiffen up the ride and handling responsiveness. The amount of pressure will depend on the type of tires you have and the course conditions, but, as a rule of thumb, at least five psi over street spec is recommended.

Remove anything that’s not bolted or required in your car to reduce weight and avoid anything rolling around in the car. Check your seatbelts for any damage or wear. If there’s any noticeable damage, you’re required to replace or fix it before you can race. Finally, make sure you have a certified racing helmet or they won’t let you race. SNELL SA2000 rating helmets are the standard for most events.

Find a Mentor

Going to an Autocross event for the first time can be intimidating. We recommend connecting with a seasoned driver and getting tips on how to approach the track. Ask to tag along on a course run so you can see how he or she reacts to the turns, braking and shift points. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The Autocross community is welcoming and loves new enthusiasts having fun!

The guys in the office can spend a whole day talking about Autocross and things you need to do, but these are some of the basics you should accomplished before getting out on the track. Once you feel acclimated and part of the community, you can dive deeper into the more technical aspects.

We’ve included a great video that shows you what Autocross is and gives additional information:

Post Written by Rainier Fuclan

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