One of the first things to realize when it comes to car control and attending your first event is that things need to be linked together. You are not shooting down a straight, going through the braking area and then turning the corner. You need to imagine the entire course as a fluid trip and find the fast way from one element to the next. It is always easier to start out slow and learn to speed up then to develop habits that you need to “unlearn” later. This is not to say the Solo racing is not aggressive because it is, and once you “get it” meaning the flow of it you will ramp up the energy to combine fury with smooth.
A common mistake for beginners is to make the car extremely stiff right off the start. This places far more pressure on you as a novice because the car will react faster than you know how to. In this situation you will always be behind the car (slower) and take much longer to get it right. The softer set up will be slower than a properly driven set up car, but a poorly driven stiff car will always be slower than a well driven soft car. The tires will not have as much time to communicate with you before loosing traction when a car is stiff, and they will take a “set” faster making the available slip angle (steering angle or sliding angle of the tire) much smaller thus the window of grip will be reduced for you to “learn”.
Check tires often so you can see how the changing temps affect the pressures. This will help you learn how to “tune” the cars handling without having to change parts right away. You will also be able to optimize overall grip of the existing suspension. Don’t mistake the markings on the sidewalls (scuff marks onto the sidewall of the tire after a run) as always the need to add air. Ask yourself if you caused it or the tire did. Over steering when you have lost grip will cause this and the hardest thing to learn is that you are are causing it and not always the car. You need to get the feel for when you have lost grip and “stop” turning the wheel, this is the way you let the grip catch up. This is one of the absolute hardest things to learn about car control and when you master it you will be amazed what can be done with a car.
Welcome to the all new GotCone.com blog, which will hopefully provide some tips and discussion of ways to make you and your car better. And we all want that don’t we? I am hoping the blog will become a great resource for all things autocross, rallycross and racing in general.
If you don’t know yet who I am, my name is David and I am the one who has taken the majority of the photos you can find in the photo gallery. I also drove a 2008 BMW 135i in STU last year and will be doing so again this year.
Mark is currently the Performance Auto Manager at Woodhouse Auto Family. Mark competes in SCCA Solo, where he currently drives a Dodge Viper and has finished as high as 2nd at SCCA Solo Nationals (in ESP).
Jon has been participating in autocross since 2000 and has driven a wide variety of vehicles. Jon has trophied twice at Solo Nationals, 12th in STX (2009 Solo Nationals E30 BMW M3) and 12th in STS (Subaru 2.5 RS). He has also competed in rallycross on a somewhat regular basis. He is very knowledgeable when it comes to car set up and has recently started his own business (Tarsust).
Christy drives a 2006 Subaru STi in STU(L). She placed 3rd at 2009 SCCA Solo Nationals and 2nd at the 2006 SCCA Rallycross Nationals and has been participating in autocross and rallycross since 2005.
Hopefully some of you will find the information that will be provided in this blog useful. If you have a topic you would like addressed please feel free to let us know.
If you would like to contribute to the blog please let me know, as I would like to add a few more people to the blog.
For autocrossers living north of 40 degrees, winter can be an excruciating time. The season has ended, a new one doesn’t start until mother nature decides. We’re stuck with our cars in the garage and our tires in the basement. (You know, because our garages are never insulated as well as we wish they were.) So how is it possible to stay in top-autox shape with snow on the ground? Here are a few ideas that are helping us through the dark months.
1. Invest in a good game console, wheel, pedals, and that HD LCD TV you’ve been dreaming about for a while now. I highly recommend the XBOX 360 with Forza 3. This year, we purchased a gaming seat from playseats.com to suppliment this experience. It was well worth the investment. Practice daily to keep your eye-hand coordination in tip-top shape.
2. Make a ‘wish list’ of items to get for the car. If you are doing a new build for a new class, this is essential. Start getting parts now for fast fitting, in case you need to make adjustments. Its better to make those adjustments early in the season instead of the week of nationals. Figure out your budget and race schedule.
3. Focus on the fitness of the driver. Are you in the best shape you can be? Could you lose a few pounds? Focus on stamina and dropping weight safely. Remember, weight off of you is also weight off the car.
While we may not be able to drive every weekend, we can still prepare for the upcoming season, even with snow on the ground!