If you are a motorsports fan you may have heard of Solo racing, but you may or may not be familiar with what exactly solo racing is. You likely have a lot of questions about it: where do Solo events take place? What type of cars are raced in Solo racing? Who can race in an Solo Racing event? Read on to find the answers.
Solo racing, also known as Autocross or Auto-x, is an entry level timed competition that requires drivers to drive through a marked course. this course is primarily asphalt but can be grass or dirt. Due to one car being on the track at a time it is a safer form of motorsport and has much lower barriers for entry
What is Solo Racing?
Also known as Autocross, Auto-x or Autoslalom (in the United States it is called Solo® by the Sports Car Club of America), it is a form of autosport in which drivers take to a closed temporary course in a race against the clock – and indirectly against other competitors. In this regard it is somewhat similar to Rally. (It is also a predecessor to the increasingly popular gymkhana style of autosport).
And yet it is vastly different. Tracks are typically laid out in parking lots and airfields with the use of road cones. For this reason every Solo racing event sees a different course, even when returning to the same venues. These courses tend to be tight and very demanding, and this is by design, for Solo racing is really all about precision car control rather than outright speed.
In fact, Autocross / solo is comparatively one of the slower forms of autosport, and speeds on an Autocross track are typically not much more than what you would see on the highway. But the driver activity level in terms of discrete turns per minute can be the highest in all of motorsports, Formula One included.
This, along with the sport’s low barrier to entry, makes Solo racing a perfect outlet for aspiring professional racers to hone their skills in a relatively safe – and inexpensive – environment.
Who can Participate in Solo Racing?
Herein lies the best part about Autocross: literally anyone (well, almost anyone) can participate. Yes, there are even Junior Divisions for kids in some countries, in which participants race karts. There are also ladies’ divisions.
More than any other form of motorsports, Solo racing operates at a grass-roots level, and pretty much anyone can show up to an Autocross / Solo event in their grocery-hauler and take to the track to see what they’ve got.
Solo Racing is the most accessible and amateur friendly form of racing there is, with its low barrier to entry in terms of expense and general ease of access to events. It’s no wonder why so many professional race car drivers have gotten their start in Autocross / Solo racing.
If you want to compete in Solo racing , just go online and find the nearest event, register (there is usually a relatively low fee between $25 and $60 USD for SCCA Solo® events, for example).
From there, all you need to do is show up, submit your ride for safety inspection, and maybe walk the course to get some familiarity with it. Then when your turn comes, put the hammer down and give it all you got…while keeping it between the cones of course.
Some Solo leagues operate on a volunteer basis, as in the case with SCCA events, meaning that competitors are also the ones helping participants fill out waivers, doing the tech inspections, directing cars from grid to course, and so on.
So you may be expected to help out in some way when you show up. This is what helps to keep the cost down for participants.
What Cars can you Race in Solo Racing
You can race just about anything in Solo Racing provided it has wheels and an engine. From your dad’s station wagon to a screaming open-wheel racer and anything in between, autocross tracks have seen it all.
Of course, there wouldn’t be much competition in pairing up a Volkswagen Golf against say, an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, so cars are divided into classes based upon performance levels.
The SCCA in the United States, for example, classes cars into six broad categories from Street and Street Touring up to Modified. In British Autocross car classes are determined by engine size, while in Australia vehicle classes tend to be left up to event directors.
What are the Autocross clubs
Autocross and Solo racing varies hugely in different parts of the world. While American SCCA events are held on paved surfaces, British Autocross mixes things up a bit with unpaved surfaces, usually grass or stubble. Australian Autocross takes it a step further by racing on dirt.
In the U.K., there are many regional clubs that practice their own rules, though the Royal Automobile Club Motorsports Association (RACMSA) maintains oversight of the clubs. And then there is the FIA European Autocross Cup, an international Autocross championship series that is considered by some to be the pinnacle of the Autocross form of motorsport.
Undoubtedly the biggest difference in FIA European Autocross (as well as in the British variety, in some instances) is that multiple cars take to the track at the same time, though still competing ultimately against the clock.
Australian Autocross has much more in common with its European counterparts, at least from a historical/heritage perspective than with American SCCA Solo, despite sharing the solo car format.
It is sanctioned by the Confederation of Australian Motor sport (CAMS), and with events being staged on dirt surfaces it is considered to be an excellent entry point into – and preparation for – the realm of rally racing. Cars can range from the most mundane of road-going automobiles to off-road buggies and purpose-built rally racers.
What Equipment is Needed for Solo Racing?
The barriers to entry in Solo Racing and Autocross are much, much lower than for track racing motorsports. Although we have a full article on requirements here the basics are as follows.
A Helmet is mandatory is most events and must conform to Snell SM or A and have a number higher than 2005.
- A good working order car
- A valid driving license
- The money to pay the entry fee usually between 25 to 50 dollars
- A positive attitude as it is a close knit group who help each other.
As we mentioned almost any car can compete, and in Solo racing events you are really racing against both the clock and yourself while practicing racing skills in a safe environment.
So now that you are armed with some knowledge, you might just want to consider giving Autocross / Solo racing a try yourself. Show up at an event, and if you don’t want to drive at first then just go there as a spectator and see what it’s all about. Just remember it’s all about having fun and meeting great people – the ones who have petrol in their veins just like you.
There are no finer folks anywhere than those you will meet in the Autocross and Solo racing communities And when you’re ready, strap on a helmet and push your car – and yourself – to the limit and get that adrenaline fix. Once you do, you’ll never go back.