I’m going to go back in time about 10 years to share with you how I got started and introduced to the world of auto racing.
My friend Kenny told me about something called autocross with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) back in the San Francisco Bay Area where I grew up. Technically, this is called Solo2 when you look at the SCCA website. I learned that this was an affordable way to take your car “out to the track” without much risk of damage.
In autocross the track is made up of traffic cones and cars run one at a time pretty well spaced apart so it’s one of the safest environments to test the limits of your ability with your daily driver. A weekend event would run about $35 at the time plus a yearly SCCA membership which is under $100. Overall this was the least intimidating way to get started and still one of the best values around.
One of the most beneficial aspects of this program is just getting out there and meeting others in your local area who are often very helpful and willing to help beginners learn the ropes. If you love cars it’s a great place to go and see what types of cars people race. You’ll find everything from daily driven Honda Civics to race prepared Corvette’s with full roll cages and other go fast customizations. Walking around the paddock you’ll likely find other drivers with the same type of car you have so it’s a great way to get to know people.
The SCCA provides a structured environment for learning and competition. During a Solo2 event you’ll also work the track and learn about various positions such as starter, timer, flagger, or help with registration. This arrangement keeps the event costs low for everyone but also gives you great experience and understanding of what goes into running one of these types of events.
As I got into Solo2 I learned about the various aspects of car control such as looking ahead on the track, looking where you want your car to go before it gets there, smoothness of steering inputs, and vehicle weight transfer. I was racing my daily driver, a 1995 Honda del Sol SI, at the time and was having a blast. Cars are grouped by class based on their performance characteristics so the competition is close. I got to experience the adrenaline rush of acceleration and speed and enjoyed competing for points throughout the season. I did this for two seasons and in between switched to my next daily driver, a 1999 Acura Integra GS-R which I’m still driving today. I placed 3rd in the GS-N (G Stock Novice) class back in 2001 which was quite a thrill.
After a while other priorities came up and I stopped participating in autocross but looking back it was a great foundational experience for my development as a driver. For those wanting to get started in motorsports I’d definitely recommend giving autocross a try. There are other clubs in addition to the SCCA that offer such programs. National Auto Sport Association (NASA) is a similar organization as well as manufacturer specific clubs (Porsche Club of America, BMW Car Club of America, etc) that you may want to look into.
Fast forward to today I’ve come full circle in a way. I’ve got the itch to go racing again but this time in a different format, road racing. This is something I’ve always wanted to do as I learned about the various motorsports styles and I’ll be posting my progress towards that goal here.