So What Is Autocross? Meet Gulfcoast Autocrossers!
Porsche owners take a lot of pride in their cars. After all, Porsche is one of the world’s iconic automobile brands, renowned for innovative design, advanced engineering, reliability and world championship performance. We care for them, we admire them, show them, cruise and commute in them. But above all, Porsche’s are designed for spirited driving!
PCA has long supported performance driving events. They provide a safer, more controlled environment for members to explore the limits of acceleration, cornering and braking. Club Racing, Drivers Education and Autocross events are on the calendar at PCA Regions across North America.
Everglades Region is fortunate to have a premier autocross facility right in our backyard. For 18 years, Buckingham Airfield in Ft Myers has been home to the Gulfcoast Autocrossers (GCAC). We have the opportunity to collaborate with GCAC and neighboring PCA Regions. Our goal is to provide Everglades members with expanded autocross opportunities in the future.
An autocross is an all-forward–motion, skill driving event in which a car is timed over a course laid out on a paved area and is marked by short, soft road pylons (cones) and in some cases, white lime or chalk. An autocross is often competitive, but is always educational and social. No passing is allowed and the cars are spread out on the track so as to maintain a safe distance between them. Continuous laps are specifically prohibited unless it is a closed course where a practice and timed lap are run together.
The competitive aspect involves negotiating a pre-designed course averaging about one to two minutes in duration. Cars are usually divided into classes according to performance capabilities. The elapsed time for each car is timed and recorded.
A two second penalty is assessed for each pylon tipped over or knocked out of place and the penalty is added to the elapsed time. The corrected times are compared with others in the cars class and are used to determine event placing and in some Regions / Zones, season long championships points.
The educational aspect involves learning the characteristics of the car, it’s strengths, and limits and how it will respond to the driver input in a variety of conditions.
The social aspect includes getting to know the other drivers from within the Everglades and from other Regions in PCA Zone 12.
Gulfcoast Autocrossers host regular events at Buckingham in Lehigh Acres. You do not need to be a GCAC member to participate.
These are typically two day events with Saturday focused on novice training, practice, testing and tuning. Sunday is for competition. If you are not familiar with autocross, we recommend visiting one of the GCAC weekend events. Their Saturday morning novice school costs $25 and is a great way to hone your driving skills with an experienced instructor at your side.
A number of your fellow Everglades members are regular participants and will be more than happy to share their experience with you. For more information on GCAC, visit their website at http://gulfcoastautocrossers.com .
There are not many requirements to participate in autocross. As a Porsche owner, you already have a car with outstanding performance capabilities. No special modifications or upgrades are necessary to get started in the Stock classes. A technical inspection is required prior to the event with a focus on vehicle safety. You will need an approved safety helmet meeting Snell SA2005 or SA2010 standards. Often these are available to borrow from the hosting organization. Pre-registration is needed for some events and all drivers must possess a valid state drivers license. To observe or drive in an autocross, you will be asked to sign an insurance waiver.
Motorsports, including autocross, are potentially hazardous activities. The ultimate responsibility for the safe conduct of a motorsport event lies with the hosting organization and the participants.
Autocross Rule Book
Throughout 2014, we ran our events under PCA National Autocross Rules.
Effective January 2015 on, we switched to the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Solo Rules. This change better enables participation by non-Porsche drivers in Everglades Region events. To view the SCCA Solo rules, go to their website at http://www.scca.com and look under Programs – Autocross – Rules.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is autocross dangerous or will it hurt my car?
A: While there are inherent dangers to any type of motorsport, autocross is considered one of the safest. The traffic cones are soft rubber and will not damage your car.
Q: Do I need to get my car tech inspected prior to the event or do anything special?
A: Most host organizations have an onsite tech inspection the day of the event. This inspection is not as comprehensive as one for a driver education event. Autocross basics include cleaning everything out of the car, tire condition, tire inflation, lug nut torque, inspect for fluid leaks, firm brake pedal and no excessive steering play. Newer, low mileage cars that are properly maintained should not require any extra work. Generally, older cars will receive a more thorough review and should be in good, safe roadworthy condition.
Q: What about increased wear and tear on my Porsche?
A: At a typical autocross, you will have an opportunity for five to eight runs on course. Since each run lasts one to three minutes, your car will be “on track” less than 10 minutes a day. Tires and brakes do get a workout in autocross. Wear is also influenced by the tire and brake compounds you are running (street vs. competition).
Q: Is autocross mainly a “guys” event?
A: Absolutely not. Women frequently participate in autocross and are often among the fastest drivers on course. What a great opportunity for your wife to hone her car control skills and take that experience back on the crowded streets of SW Florida!
Q: Our kids love riding in the Porsche. Can they ride along at the autocross?
A: No. The PCA insurance coverage that we purchase for autocross does not permit minors under the age of 16 in the cars at track events. For 16 and above, they are required to sign the event waiver and wear a helmet. If they are a licensed driver, they can register to drive the autocross.
Q: I have heard that drivers must “work” during an autocross event. Is this true?
A: Yes. Autocross requires course workers to monitor the cars on track and re-set plastic pylons that get knocked astray. All participants alternate as drivers and course workers during the event.
What’s Next ?
As Everglades Region Driving Events Chair, I’m committed to expanding the autocross opportunities and experience for all Region members. Watch this space and the Everglades website for continued information on the sport and upcoming events. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to phone or email me.
Tom Kring 239-691-0652 firstname.lastname@example.org