AutoX For December 2011

 As promised, here is the next installment on car setup basics for Autocross. In previous articles we covered some of the fundamentals of tires, tire pressure and alignment. This article will cover sway bars and shocks.
 The resistance of a car to leaning, or roll, while cornering is a primary factor in how a car behaves. There are two reasons for this: Roll affects how the tires touch the pavement and relative roll resistance determines how much weight transferred each corner of the car will carry in a corner. It is clear that a car’s body roll influences grip by tilting the tires on the pavement, but tires are also sensitive to how much vertical load is placed on them. More load equates to more grip, but the tire is also less efficient. Increasing the roll resistance of one axle of a car causes more load to be transferred at that axle, making the tires on that axle work less efficiently. It is this principle you work with by stiffening or softening the chassis. Sway bars and shocks are part of a car’s roll resistance. They are commonly adjustable and work in different ways to affect a car’s behavior.

What Happens at the Meadowlands Stays at the Meadowlands

 All right, not really but that sounded cool. Actually what happens at our events at the Meadowlands is talked about, debated and argued for several months after each event. We use what we learned to tweak our cars, our attitudes and most of all our reputations albeit strictly in our own minds. Yes, we can tell our friends and loved ones how incredibly fast we are and how knowledgeable we are but sooner or later the results (granted mostly later and sometimes never) get posted. OK boys and girls, this is one of those times when if you read all of our articles on preparation and strategy and got a good nights sleep in advance of the event and put your heart and soul into it, you actually have the right to brag that you are the fastest in your class (not kindergarten) on any given Sunday, especially July 31, 2011. Oh yes, these are actual results from that event. And by the way a special thanks to our X class and Audi Club drivers for bringing it and laying it all out there. Most of all the course setters for us this season were led by Perry Adlebaum of SCCA fame and our own Robert Ida.

THE CAR – Autocross – October 2011

 
 Well, here comes the slippery slope. As soon as the average driver begins to learn their way around the course and their car control skills begin to improve – guess what happens next? How can the car be improved as I am surely being held back by my car…..  Let’s forget the seat time, experience factors for the moment and focus on sliding down the absolutely justified slippery slope of car improvements. While some of these improvements really are justified and really do help, other modifications may not actually help and may even hinder improvement. This article will cover some of the more basic (and less costly) improvements and future articles will cover items to add to your Holiday wish list.
 The most basic and least expensive changes that are available to all Autocrossers are tire pressure and alignment. The other two most common improvements yet cost some bucks are adjustable sway bars and adjustable shocks (height and damping). If you are new to Autocross, these are often not too expensive, very effective at changing the car’s handling and easy to adjust as conditions change.

My First Autocross

  

Wow, my first Porsche. A 2010 911S Cabriolet and it is gorgeous. It is silver – a gift from my wife for our silver wedding anniversary (did I marry up or what?). And I can drive it any time I want…er…whenever I can. It’s got all this engine and torque and speed. Let’s see, I can get it up to 35 mph on the way to the store – if there is no traffic.  Once I think I actually got it to 45 mph between speed traps on the Turnpike. There are some nice twisty roads around me and driving around a curve is a blast in a 911. But there are other cars, and deer, and people…and it is New Jersey…and I have to pay for insurance…and I wouild like to keep my driving privileges. What is a new Porsche owner to do?
Fortunately for me, an old friend and club member, Grant Lenahan, and a new friend and club member, Tom DePascale (who sold me the car – thanks Tom), were involved with something I had never heard of called “Autocross” and they suggested I give it a try. “What is Autocross?” I asked. They explained that Autocross was a timed event where you compete against others with similar types of cars in a parking lot over a course laid out using ubiquitous orange cones. I hoped that they could not see my lack of enthusiasm. But what flashed into my mind was an old Brady Bunch episode where Greg and Marcia competed in driving skills and Greg lost when he knocked into a cone upon which a raw egg was nestled. Snore.

Autocross – How To Win

 As we have had few events to report on, our articles have been advice based, and this one will continue in that theme. The last few articles introduced you to the world of autocrossing and told you what was involved. Now we are going to tell you how to win. I have copied this article from a source, From the February, 2009 issue of Euro Tuner By Philip Royle. This is a very concise and informative article and I could not have done any better than Philip, so I defer to his knowledge and experience and thank him for his advice and encouragement.
Many say consistency is the key to being a good racer, but consistency means nothing if your technique is wrong to begin with. Fortunately, technique is something that can be learned, so if you get out on the autocross course and run the slowest time, do not give up. Instead, learn from your mistakes and alter your driving style.
Being smooth at the controls is the key to running fast. In order to be smooth, you must have the correct seating position, foot position, steering wheel grip, and a good mental map of the line you are planning on running through the cones. Each of these items must be understood and perfected before you will be able to run fast consistent lap times. Fortunately, seating and foot positioning will be the same on all autocross courses, so once you have perfected those, all you will need to worry about is running the correct line.