Written by Tom DePascale & Tom Iervolino
As this spring turns into a distant memory, NNJR autocrossers can look foreword to an exciting season ahead. During the spring session we again scheduled and held our two popular schools, the Car Control Clinic and Autocross School and a season opener at The Meadowlands. The Car Control Clinic was held at the new Meadowlands lot and boy is it big and smooth. We will be hosting three autocross events at the Meadowlands – New Giants/Jets Stadium parking lots later in the season. This venue along with the Road Course at Englishtown and possibly others yet to be determined will fill out the year for us.
Why should you Autocross? Why, to those of us die hard advocates, there are more reasons than cones on a course. The friendships developed and excitements of competitive driving are the basic influences which draw you in, but to know the sport is to love it. Autocross also known in most circles as Solo is a sport which is enjoyed not only by PCA club members but numerous automobile clubs around the world. Locally we often run events with the support of our neighboring clubs course setters and instructors, most often coming from Metro New York PCA and NNJR-SCCA.
Who should be coming to Autocross? Everybody! Autocross is for everybody from the new owner of his/her first sports car to the seasoned track enthusiast with a dedicated race car. Instructors are provided at no cost whenever requested and required for first time drivers first few runs. Every entry is placed into a vehicle and driver class to even out the playing field. Classes exist for daily drivers on street tires to dedicated race cars and everything in-between. Scoring will be determined by the class and driver experience and trophies are given out in each class. This year we are giving engraved glassware detailing the placement 1st, 2nd, 3rd, respectively.
What is an NNJR Autocross? Autocross is a combination of a driver’s ability to execute a series of maneuvers through a set course and utilizing the maximum potential of his or her vehicle. Most NNJR Autocross events take place in large parking lots and some on a road race course at either Englishtown Raceway Park or at Pocono Raceway. A course setter arrives before registration to set a course using orange cones/pylons. Speeds are generally not beyond the capability of second gear and the hazards to spectators and participants are negligible at best. Safe Serious Fun is a term often used when defining driving events and is truly how NNJR PCA considers and runs our Autocross program. After you have registered and paid the nominal fee of $50.00 for PCA members. But before you drive the course, one of our team will inspect your car to see that it is in a safe condition and free of debris. This is known as a tech inspection. Typically one car at a time is driven through the course, this being known as a “run”. Most of our events offer eight timed runs per driver; we have had as many as twelve and as few a six. These are usually broken up into morning and afternoon runs. Each driver will be required to assist with the event during his/her none driving sessions, known as work assignments. A work assignment is usually standing in a designated safe area of the course and observing the drivers as they pass through the course. The workers responsibility is to advise timing and scoring by radio if that particular driver on the course has deviated from the prescribed course of having knocked over any cones. The elapsed time of the run is identified and recorded by timing and scoring personnel. There are penalties for course deviations and the knocking over cones which adjust you score for a run. The best run of the day for each driver is what is used to determine positioning for trophies in his/her class.
What is gonna happen to my car? Not much more than a day on the NJ Turnpike. You are going to use some fuel, for beginners you will not damage or excessively use consumables such as tires and brakes any more than you would driving to work. Those of us who have quite a bit more experience and vehicle enhancements may go though tires and brakes a little quicker but we already knew that didn’t we?
All in all this is a great way to enhance your driving skills and safely enjoy your car doing what it was built to do and why you bought it in the first place. Hope to see some new drivers this season.