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Auto-X FilModerator
Hard-core CEG'er

Reged: 08/11/03
Posts: 4140
Loc: Pennsylvania
Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide
#1169619 - 02/15/06 03:08 PM

In an attempt to generate more enthusiasm on CEG for autocross, and get more people in the sport in general, I'm going to give some information to those who might be interested.

For an introduction to the sport, try the Tire Rack Novice Handbook. This gives all the information you need to go to your first event.

Autocross is a motorsport where cars are driven around a tight, very twisty course marked by cones (pylons). Cars run solo - thus the SCCA name "Solo II". Solo I is similar, but on a road course. Each run is timed to one one thousandth of a second: xx.xxx seconds. The fastest run is the one that counts. Cars are divided into classes based on modifications and type/performance potential. See http://www.scca.org for details on classing.

There are five classes the Contour is eligible for in streetable form: G Stock (GS), Street Touring S (STS), STX, D Street Prepared (DSP), and Street Mod (SM).

GS allows struts, front swaybar, brake pads, cat-back, DOT-legal race tires, and that's about it. This leaves you with a car with a lot of understeer. However, it's still fun, and will teach you a lot about driving to run there.

STS allows springs, swaybars, wheels, chip, intake, A/C removal, battery relocation, and a few other things, but makes you run on "Street Tires", which has a treadwear rating of 140 or greater. The fastest tires are the Falken Azenis, Hankook Z212, Kuhmo MX, Yoko Advan Neova, and BFG KDW. Max width is 225, on a 7.5 inch wheel.

STX is like STS but allows an LSD, bigger rotors, one high-flow cat (which means headers for us), and wider wheels/tires: 245s on 8 inch wheels. With the LSD and MSDS headers being popular, this could be a fun place to be. It will take some work to fit a 245 width tire, though.

DSP allows the STS mods, as well as LSD, no cat at all, DOT-legal slicks, and an accusump. If I was to build a Contour for track days and autocross, this would be the place to be.

SM allows anything power and suspension-wise without chassis modifications. You can remove more weight, run a turbo, 3.0L, etc. But so can the competition


As I mention in my STS build thread, STS is a good place to be. With the exception of the Accusump, slicks, and LSD, it's everything I'd want in a streetable car. If you're not going to the track much, this is the way to go. If you get a nice suspension kit like the Koni or BAT, a rear swaybar, camber plates, and Azenis, you can be very well-prepared, and have a great-handling and riding street car.

If you go a little more hardcore, you canr have a car that's great on SMOOTH roads, and very, very quick. Again, see my build thread for details.


So, you want to run. No matter where you are, it'll be fun. Let me alleviate a few misconceptions for the wary:

Oil starvation: I run 6.5 qts and I'm fine. Autocross doesn't have long, hard turns, in general. I have yet to run a course that scares me in the least. Just don't run low on oil, and your engine won't break a sweat.

Tire life: a lot of newbies show up unprepared and kill their tires, never to return. If you go too fast, sliding everywhere, you'll not only burn them up, you'll be slow! Erring on the side of too cautious will give you faster lap times, and no appreciable tire wear. Also, make sure you jack the pressures up to 38-40 psi to keep them from squishing and "rolling over" onto the sidewall. This will keep the wear down, and even it out across the tread, as well as making you faster.

Damage: it is possible to damage the car. If you are really nuts, and the course has a flaw, you could do something stupid and mess it up. But, I've never run a course where that could happen. A good course will require serious driver incompetence to have a problem. This is the safest form of motorsport, or very close, as far as car damage goes. The risk is very, very low.

Yes, Buckshot rolled his car. This was not from cornering forces, but from going way too fast on a poorly-setup track and hitting a tire wall. He admits it was really all his fault that he went off - cold tires, cold track, hot driver, I think he said.


So, go to SCCA.org, find your region, and look for an event! Post up in your regional forum to see if anyone around you want to go too. Read the guide I posted the link too, and have fun!


EDIT 2006-02-27: Consolidated some info from below, made a sticky.

--------------------
-Philip Maynard
'95 Contour [71 STS | Track Whore]
'97 Miata [71 ES | Boulevard Pimp]
2006 autocross results

Edited by Auto-X Fil (08/12/06 02:34 PM)

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moxnix
Hard-core CEG'er

Reged: 07/20/00
Posts: 2100
Loc: VA
Re: Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide new
#1169705 (Re: Auto-X Fil) 02/15/06 04:47 PM

A few nits to pick here but overall a good job.

Originally posted by Auto-X Fil:
GS allows struts, front swaybar, brake pads, cat-back, DOT-legal race tires, and that's about it. This leaves you with a car with a lot of understeer. However, it's still fun, and will teach you a lot about driving to run there.




Also Drop in Air filter (not a cone type of filter)

Also the I4 contour is in HS not GS but it has the same mods alowed.

Originally posted by Auto-X Fil:
STS allows springs, swaybars, wheels, chip, intake, A/C removal, battery relocation, and a few other things, but makes you run on "Street Tires", which has a treadwear rating of 140 or greater. The fastest tires are the Falken Azenis, Hankook Z212, Kuhmo MX, Yoko Advan Neova, and BFG KDW.




I don't know how chips are on the contour but the chip must fit in the factory housing.


Originally posted by Auto-X Fil:
DSP allows the STS mods, as well as LSD, DOT-legal slicks, and an accusump. If I was to build a Contour for track days and autocross, this would be the place to be.




As well as full engine management or changing of steering wheels or complete removal of the cat (or hollowing out of it)

Originally posted by Auto-X Fil:
SM allows anything, pretty much. You can gut it, run a turbo, 3.0L, make is a dual-wishbone suspension, whatever. But so can the competition




A common misconseption but still one. While you can remove the back seat and the stereo stuff all the other stuff must stay so that is not what I would call gutting it.

The suspension mounting points have to stay the same as stock so I am not sure you would be able to convert it to double wishbone.

A strange thing is that putting on a CF hood would toss you right into SM but the CF trunk lid is not legal for SM and would toss you into some sort of prepared or mod class.

Also about the 3.0L swap. to be technically legal it would need to come from a ford (escape/taurus) not a mazda (tribute) if the engines are at all different(even if it is just different part numbers) because of the way the rule reads because mazda and ford are related only at a corporate level. Since it is the same block I doubt anybody would have issues with it just make sure you don't have a big powered by mazda sticker under the hood of the car.

Originally posted by SCCA Rule book:
16.1.d.1. Engine block must be a production unit manufactured and badged the same as the original standard or optional engine for that model. Badges that exist as marketing aliases for the manufacturer will be recognized as equivalents. Swaps involving makes related only at a corporate level are not recognized as equivalents.




Originally posted by Auto-X Fil:
So, go to SCCA.org, find your region, and look for an event! Post up in your regional forum to see if anyone around you want to go too. Read the guide I posted the link too, and have fun!




A few more links
2006 SCCA Solo2 rulebook
2006 ProSolo Rules
SCCA Region Finder
SCCA National Tour Listing
SCCA National ProSolo Tour Listing
Frappr! Map of 2006 National Tour locations
Frappr! Map of 2006 ProSolo National Tour Locations

--------------------
Beaten - 2003 MazdaSpeed Protege 29K <- broken hearted
Daily/Weekend Beater - 1990 miata 138K - AutoX every weekend = Adult driven on weekends

Edited by Auto-X Fil (02/28/06 01:27 AM)

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Auto-X FilModerator
Hard-core CEG'er

Reged: 08/11/03
Posts: 4140
Loc: Pennsylvania
Re: Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide new
#1169733 (Re: moxnix) 02/15/06 05:20 PM

I was hoping you'd come proofread that for me

The STX cat rule is important because if lets you run MSDS headers and a high-flow cat, which is serious HP, and yes DSP was be a pretty serious exhuast - "full race" in ricerspeak, also big power. Good catch.

Thanks for the SM clarifications, I threw that in after I remembered all the 3.0L people, but I don't know that much about it. The CF hood/trunk thing is important, as is the 3.0L technicality. And the factory pickup points must be used for the suspension: it's Prepared that allows a MacPherson strut to double wishbone conversion explicitly.

--------------------
-Philip Maynard
'95 Contour [71 STS | Track Whore]
'97 Miata [71 ES | Boulevard Pimp]
2006 autocross results

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RogerB
Hard-core CEG'er

Reged: 10/21/00
Posts: 3867
Loc: Wichita, KS
Re: Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide new
#1169762 (Re: Auto-X Fil) 02/15/06 05:38 PM

SP allows a certain amount of overbore and deck height shaving (IIRC) as well as valve work (IIRC), which, by the time you do to a 2.5L, you might as well have bought a 3.0 and shot for SM. I've never heard of anyone doing this to a Contour just to run in SP, but there you have it.

--------------------
Function before fashion.
'96 Contour SE

"Toss the Contour into a corner, and it's as easy to catch as a softball thrown by a preschooler." -Edmunds, 1998

Edited by Auto-X Fil (02/28/06 01:25 AM)

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weargle
Veteran CEG'er

Reged: 03/06/03
Posts: 751
Loc: Morrisville, NC
Re: Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide new
#1169875 (Re: Auto-X Fil) 02/15/06 07:42 PM

Other tips from a great teacher, Andy Hollis

Top Ten Tips



--------------------
Whirling dervish of FFOG.

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moxnix
Hard-core CEG'er

Reged: 07/20/00
Posts: 2100
Loc: VA
Re: Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide new
#1169876 (Re: RogerB) 02/15/06 07:43 PM

We both forgot to mention the tire and rim width restrictions in STS/STX.

STS
Rims Max = 7.5" wide
Tires Max = 225mm

STX
Rims Max = 8" wide
Tires Max = 245

--------------------
Beaten - 2003 MazdaSpeed Protege 29K <- broken hearted
Daily/Weekend Beater - 1990 miata 138K - AutoX every weekend = Adult driven on weekends

Edited by Auto-X Fil (02/28/06 01:25 AM)

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Auto-X FilModerator
Hard-core CEG'er

Reged: 08/11/03
Posts: 4140
Loc: Pennsylvania
Re: Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide new
#1169894 (Re: weargle) 02/15/06 08:06 PM

Andy's tips are indeed great. I should have stressed this more:


A good driver is better than a good car. I routinely beat Corvettes, BMWs, Miatas, RX-8s, and more, because I (try to) do those things, and the new (or just stubborn) drivers in the "faster" cars don't. They may even be using 100% of the Corvettes acceleration and cornering, but if they're asking more of the car than the course demands (that is, they have a poor line), they will be slow - sometimes very, very slow.

Case in point:

STS Philip Maynard 95 Ford Contour 45.891
ASP XXXXX XXXXXXXX 99 Corvette 47.026
CSP XXXXX XXXXXXXX 95 Mazda Miata 48.641
SS XXXXX XXXXXXXX 05 Lotus elise 46.552
DM XXXXX XXXXXXXX 89 Sabre7 45.113

Yes, the 7 beat me, but it's a Louts 7! He should have been worlds ahead of me, like this guy was:

SS XXXXX XXXXXXXX 04 Corvette Z06 41.414 (FTD)

I also have lost to a few Foci, a Neon ACR, a stock Cooper S, and a bunch of other cars because they had pilots that were absolutely spot-on.

So, the moral of the story: Show up in anything, and if you can drive you'll do quite well. Following Andy's comments regarding driving will get you 90% of the way there.


--------------------
-Philip Maynard
'95 Contour [71 STS | Track Whore]
'97 Miata [71 ES | Boulevard Pimp]
2006 autocross results

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TourDeForce
Hard-core CEG'er

Reged: 03/04/03
Posts: 7117
Loc: West Palm Beach, FL - Going to Jupiter someday
Re: Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide new
#1169969 (Re: Auto-X Fil) 02/15/06 09:32 PM

Well guys, thanks for a whole bunch of useful information. I printed Andy's tips & have been feverishly taking notes as I've been planning to get into Auto-X for some time now and plan to attend an even on the 26th. I attended one event in Miami, but did not participate. Glad I didn't as many of the other participants were competing to become King Nimrod. Lots of DNFs and guys spinning out & doing a SERIES of donuts just off the course... I didn't want anything to do with that crowd. The SCCA hasn't held an event in that venue since. No wonder why.

The Florida SCCA (south Florida) sucks (as usual) & has nothing on their calendar as yet. The Equipe Rapide group has had one "SCCA SOLO type" event & 2 more on schedule, but they're waaaaaaay down in Homestead at the speedway parking lot. Central Florida region events are closer & easier to get to even though I live in the Florida region. The Central Florida region is well under way with their season. I may even get my daughters to enter just to sharpen their skills behind the wheel...

--------------------
Must be that jumbly-wumbly thing happening again.

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weargle
Veteran CEG'er

Reged: 03/06/03
Posts: 751
Loc: Morrisville, NC
Re: Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide new
#1170039 (Re: TourDeForce) 02/15/06 10:54 PM

Also, spend the fifteen bucks to get Henry Watts' book "Secrets of Solo Racing".

Ask questions, everybody has been a novice before, and they don't mind answering them. Also, show up to work early. Check out the lines of the drivers when you're out there too, but PLEASE make sure to watch the cones as they go by your particular area rather than the car to help the event go smoother.

--------------------
Whirling dervish of FFOG.

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Kremithefrog
I have no life

Reged: 05/14/02
Posts: 21653
Loc: Albany, Georgia
Re: Autocross FAQ/ newbie guide new
#1170083 (Re: moxnix) 02/15/06 11:59 PM

Originally posted by moxnix:

Originally posted by Auto-X Fil:
DSP allows the STS mods, as well as LSD, DOT-legal slicks, and an accusump. If I was to build a Contour for track days and autocross, this would be the place to be.




As well as full engine management or changing of steering wheels or complete removal of the cat (or hollowing out of it)




I thought STS allowed for changing the steering wheel, if kept within 1" diameter of stock.

--------------------
98.5 SVT
91 Escort GT (almost sold)
96 ATX Zetec (i brake to watch you swerve)

FS: SVT rear sway bar
WTB: Very cheap beater

CEG Dragon Run - October 13-15

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