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Home > Chapter Programs > Autocross > Introduction

What is an autocross?

An autocross is a relatively low speed event (usually run entirely in second gear) that allows you to learn the handling characteristics of your car and how to refine your driving skills. An autocross is generally held in a large parking lot (as big a lot as we can find). Traffic cones are then used to make a course where one car at a time will drive against the clock. In other words, this is NOT NASCAR -- no passing or "rubbing" of fenders, since you are the only car on the track at any given time. There is very little chance of hitting anything that will damage the car (the cones bounce off, but you incur a penalty of two seconds per cone knocked down). Also, since the speeds are low, you are not putting a lot of stress on the car.

Why should I participate?

You should participate to learn more about how you and your car will behave as you approach the limits of your car's handling. This is a perfect opportunity for you to experience what it feels like -- under controlled conditions -- when the anti-lock brakes are working or when the traction control (ASC+T in BMW speak) kicks in to "assist you" during low traction conditions.

BMWs are very well engineered, and some people think that they are close to the car's handling limits when in fact they have a large margin of safety. These events help people learn just how far they can push themselves and their cars before they get themselves into trouble on the streets. Conversely, some people think they are at the limits when they have actually exceeded them (overdriving the car). For those people, learning to slow down may actually improve their driving and improve their times.

Novices are always welcomed. If you are new to autocross, or if you want to get some advice, we will have experienced "autocross gurus" in attendance who can ride with you and give you pointers (or point you in the right direction).

How do I prepare my car?

You do not have to modify your car or buy anything special to be competitive, since we have separate "stock" and "modified" classes. Keep in mind that one of the top drivers in the club (Dave Lassalle) drives an M3 that is stock other than he uses "R" compound tires. Don't worry, for our club purposes, the "R" compound tires alone will place Dave and others into their respective "modified" class.

You will need to do two things to your car to prepare for an autocross. First, clean out ALL loose items from inside the car and the trunk. Second, inflate your tires a little more than usual. The recommendation on tire pressure varies by car type and tire type, but is usually in the range of 38 40 P.S.I. for normal street tires.

Every car must undergo a "technical inspection" at the event. This inspection is simply to make sure that you have a car that is not obviously dangerous to drive, and that you have complied with the above two conditions.

So, come on out and put that ultimate driver to the test in his (or her) Ultimate Driving Machine.

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