3 Essential Autocross Tips for Beginners
Autocross is one of the easiest ways to get into motorsports, and it’s also a great way to safely hone your driving skills. Here are a few tips to make sure your car is ready to take on the cones:
Learn the track as best you can and pay special attention to the surface of the track, especially any dips or cracks. You want to know the track as well as you can before you go out there on your first run so you can hit the ground running and give maximum effort right off the bat. Pay attention to other drivers when it’s not your turn–you can learn a lot from the veterans.
Make sure your car is up to the task, as well. We’re talking proper tire pressure, properly torque lug nuts, and removing any unnecessary items from the interior and trunk. Consider under inflating the tires, as they will give you more grip, but make sure you return them to normal before you hit the public roads.
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Once you get out there, drive smoothly, as sudden motions can upset the balance of the car. Smooth motions will keep the weight over the proper tires and keep the handling predictable. Focus on the apex of the corners when entering, and then focus towards the exit.
Make sure you understand oversteer and understeer. Most street cars are prone to understeer, where you turn the wheel and the car continues to push in a straight line. In rear-wheel-drive cars, giving the car too much throttle in the turns can cause the opposite to happen, where the rear wheels lose traction and the car over rotates. Traction is your friend on the track–spinning your wheels will just cost time.
Know your limits
Autocross is about demonstrating control of your car, so sliding around in a cloud of tire smoke just makes you look crazy. That’s what drifting is for. The fastest drivers are those that drive up to the very limit of their available traction, but do not cross it. Strive for consistency each time you go out on the track and it will become easier to find that limit and push your vehicle to the very edge.