Whatever brought you to this page, whether you have just finished watching the Daytona 500 or the Formula 1 race at Monza, been stuck in traffic in your new car for the last hour or just watched cars 3 for the 20th time with your children. Autocross is the way to test both your and your cars abilities in a safe and fun environment and you will need some equipment to race in Autocross.
Autocross racing is an accessible form of motor racing. Equipment requirements are minimal and focus on safety. These include a SM/A 2005 rated helmet, a car in good working order and a valid driving license. As events are outside sunscreen, weather protection and some refreshments will make the day more enjoyable.
What is Autocross Racing?
We are going to presume that you have been led here by another website, or have read out introduction to Autocross article ( if not we suggest reading that after link here). So here is just a bare bones introduction to what Autocross is. If you want more you can access the main article here or below.
- Autocross has a few names depending on where in the world you find yourself. Solo driving, Auto-x or auto slalom.
- it is simply a safe way to try out your cars limits and your driving skills.
- One driver is usually on the track, or two if its a longer circuit,
- and the race is against the clock not against other drivers.
- There are multiple classes that should accommodate most types of vehicles, from normal workday carts, race modified cars to karts.
- Often racing is held on temporary rubber cone marked tracks on parking lots or runways and occasionally on purpose built tracks
- Unlike circuit, road and oval racing the emphasis in Autocross racing is less on speed and more on driver skills and judging the car handling.
- In can be intense, and is certainly a great way to develop driving skills. – just keep them on the track not on the road!
- Amongst the classes and categories they have have categories for female drivers and junior drivers as well. Which makes it an accessible way to try your hand at racing.
That turned out to be a little more than the bear bones of Autocross, but the article below goes into the different classes of car, how to find Autocross events near you, and some of the organising bodies if you decide its some you would like to try or look into.
What Equipment Do You Need To Start Autocross Racing?
This will be a much shorter list that the one above, as Autocross racing is designed to be accessible to all. So the equipment needed to start your first Autocross race is minimal. That is until you get bitten by the racing bug and rush off for that set of racing gloves and your own custom designed helmet.
- Helmets: Speaking of helmets, this is racing, and helmets are mandatory and fairly pricey if you are just starting. Many events will have some to borrow if it’s your first time, sometimes for free and sometimes for a small fee. Recent events may have made this more problematic though.
- We have reasonably priced Autocross helmet suggestions below this section if that proves to be the case. They need to be snell SM or A and have a number higher than 2005.
- Your Car: You can use the car you drive to work in, a weekend racer if you have one or even a go-kart. However it is important for your and others safety that it is well maintained and safe. This means brakes in good working order, all parts are secure, working fixed suspension, and no leaking oil. You can drive almost any road worthy car at these events though.
- Driving license: Even if the event takes place on private land most organised events require you to have a valid driving license, which if you drive yourself there shouldn’t be a problem! For Junior classes you should check with the event organisers to see what age / license restrictions there are. Though there are always go-karts as well.
- Racing Gloves: These are not required but for grip on hot days, for cars without assisted steering ( older models) or if you are a little nervous your first few times. We recommend Alpinestar for grip, confort and longevity.
- Useful Items to bring to Autocross: The following items are not required but will make your day at the track more enjoyable. Autocross events are held outside, (unsurprisingly!) and although there may be some food vendors, shelter to have a coffee or tea, or even a little area for drivers to sit and chat, bringing some items of your own is good preparation.
- Somewhere to sit other than your car, this can be a small stool or a more comfy recliner but it will help you be more social, and there are no bleacher seats here on a temporary track. The one below has a cooler!! (though not for you, you’re driving!)
- Sunscreen, drinks, food and snacks as you need. it can be a long day, especially of you do well!! Although there should be some refreshments where you can gather with other drivers at the track as well.
- Weather Protection: Although you don’t need to back a tent or an RV, as Autocross is usually a day event. (The National Championships take place over four days however) A sunshade or raincover will make the day much more pleasant. You can get a single one, or double if you have people with you, for reasonable prices.
Autocross is a great day out and despite friendly rivalry you will certainly make friends here. Come prepared and your day out will be even better. If you are not sure if you want to race you can go along for the first time to watch and meet other drivers. They will always be willing to share their experiences.
Do You Need Training To Drive Autocross?
You do not need formal race training to drive at Autocross, but of course it can help. There are places that offer training if you would feel more comfortable practicing before you try Autocross. However it is important to remember you are not racing others, just against the clock.
The idea is to get better, to do that there is nothing wrong with taking it easy on your first few times until you get more confident. In fact it is recommended! You can build up to higher speed as you get better.
You can ask your local Autocross club, or SCCA about the training they have on offer. It is also a chance to meet other new Autocross drivers. We will put together a larger article on this in the near future.
How Much Does it Cost To Race in Autocross?
To enter an Autocross event costs between 25 and 45 USD at the moment, making it by far the most cost accessible motor sport. The actual costs of cars and other equipment can vary so we have larger article on the site breaking down the costs of starting in Autocross.
As we have demonstrated there is not a great deal of actual racing equipment is needed for a start in Autocross, a good quality helmet, a good working car, some confidence and a drivers license.
You can access training to build skills and confidence or you can jump in and take it easy till you develop your skills with experience and advice from other drivers.
Taking some optional equipment will make your day more pleasant in case of weather or hunger which we have highlighted above.
Hopefully with all these you are set to have a great introduction to Autocross and will want to come back again and again.