1.1.   Standard Disclaimers  
 
   

This is a list of Frequently Answered Questions, FAQfor short, that attempts to answer questions about autocrossing with Tarheel Sports Car Club. Any information you find in this FAQ, or anywhere else on this web site, should be taken as information alone. Any injury, loss, or anything else that may happen to you as a result of acting on information found in this FAQ, Tarheel Sports Car Club and its members completely disclaim. You have been warned.

We can guarantee that, if you join the club and come to some events, you'll have a great time. That we can promise you.

 
  1.2.   Who do I send a question to about autocrossing with THSCC?
 
    One great thing about Tarheel Sports Car Club, and about amateur motorsports in general, is that people are always willing to help out the newcomer. Check out our list of contacts for information on the club, autocrossing, or just to chat.  
 
2.   Tell me about autocrossing!  
 
  2.1.   Do I have to have a special car?  
 
    No! Any car that is in safe running condition can be autocrossed.
 
  2.2.   I have a Yugo in good running condition. Won't I get thrashed by someone in a Corvette?  
 
    Yes...and no. Yes, the person driving the Corvette will probably be a little faster than you, unless you're a really good driver.But you'll never compete against the guy in the Corvette. All cars fit into a class, and are pitted against cars that are very similar. Small, front-wheel-drive cars compete against similar small, front-wheel-drive cars...and exotic, mid-engined sports cars compete against other exotic, mid-engined sports cars.
 
  2.3.   I've never done this before. Won't I get thrashed by people who have?
 
    No! That's why we have a Novice Class. The Novice Class is for people who want to try autocrossing for the first time. No experience is necessary.  
 
  2.4.   I don't have fancy tires. Won't I get thrashed by people who do?
 
    No! We even have a special Street Tire Class for people who don't want to go to the extra expense of buying special autocross tires.  
 
  2.5.   How bad is it for my car?
 
    Here's where you should take another look at the disclaimer in this FAQ. Autocrossing does, by definition, test the limits of your ability to drive a car, and tests the limits of your car.

Having said all that, if your car is in good running condition, your car should come out relatively unscathed. Our tech is only supposed to verify there are no obvious safety problems. It's the competitor's job to ensure the car is in good overall working order - so don't blame us if it breaks, because you've read the disclaimer. Autocrossing, while a low speed, parking-lot event, is harder on a car than "normal" driving. A few key items can wear out fast on a car that is being autocrossed.

 
bullet tires
bullet brakes
 
Other parts tend to wear out too, but these parts of a car usually only wear under regular, frequent autocrossing. In fact, those who do wear out these other parts of their car have usually upgraded them anyway.

You should also consider common sense while autocrossing at a Tarheel event. Abusing a car is abusing a car, regardless of whether you are in a parking lot or on the highway. For example, if you floor the accelerator and "sidestep" the clutch, you can expect to wear your clutch, and probably your tires, prematurely. This is true no matter where you drive. So try to use good judgment in driving your car, both on the street and at one of our events. If you have any questions about this, feel free to contact us.

 
 
  2.6.   This sounds cool. Where do I sign up?
 
    You should check our Calendar and see which event(s) you can make it to. Then, go to our page "Preregistration-How It Works" to find out how to sign up.  
 
  2.7.   Now that I'm preregistered, what should I bring?
 
    Most THSCC events are run between the seasons of Spring and Fall. This is North Carolina, and it can get hot and sunny outside, so bring sun screen. Also bring something to snack on and something to drink, since you'll be at the event for most of the day (no alcohol is allowed at any THSCC event). Lots of people also take cameras so they can take pictures of the event. A tire gauge and a $25 air compressor that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter are good things for everyone to bring. Since you have to take everything out of your car, you may also want to bring a plastic tarp to put your car contents on and to cover them in case of rain. If your car is already subject to a particular problem, bring whatever you may need to fix it...because Murphy's Law is always in effect.  
 
3.   I'm here and I'm ready. Now what?  
 
  3.1.   Where do I park? Why are all those car hoods up? And where are those people going?  
 
   
 
bullet The first thing you'll need to do when you drive up is to pick yourself a "pit" spot. Be sure not to pick a spot where you see someone's belongings even though there may not be a car there.
 
bullet Back into your "pit" spot and empty everything out of the passenger compartment and trunk of your car that is not attached. You can run with your spare tire secured in your trunk or you may take it out.
 
bullet As soon as your car is empty, raise your hood. THSCC uses a "roving tech" system and a raised hood indicates to one of our tech inspectors that you still need to have your car "teched". You can't run unless your car is "teched" (as described above) by a THSCC inspector. An inspector will put a mark (usually a dot on the driver's-side, top corner) on your windshield when your car has been "teched". You don't have to stay right by your car and wait for the inspector, though, if you do leave, you should check your windshield upon return to make sure the inspector has teched and passed your car since the inspector may not close your hood after inspecting. If your hood has been up for an ample amount of time and you don't have a tech marker, you should locate one of the inspectors to come tech your car.
 
bullet After raising your hood, you should come to the Tarheel Bus to complete your event registration. Though you preregistered online, completing event registration includes signing the waiver (if that wasn't required when you entered the site) and getting a wrist band as proof, checking in with the Registrar to pay for your entry, and receiving your "entry slip" which indicates your car class and number (see Car Classing Info for assistance with classing your car and for THSCC rules governing class/number display) as recorded in the THSCC computer. You should check this slip carefully and make sure that your car is marked exactly as it is shown on the slip so that your run times will get recorded. If you need to make a change to the class and/or number, do so with the Registrar before registration closes!
 
  3.2.   AHH!! All I see out there is a sea of cones!!  
 
    At your first few autocrosses, the course can look quite confusing. Check out our "Tips for Novices" for some ideas on how to tackle that sea of cones.
 
  3.3.   What does "working the course mean"? Do I have to do that, too?
   

Remember all the cones you knocked over while you made your first pass through the course? You may have noticed that people standing nearby rushed over to set them back up. That's an example of "working" an autocross.

THSCC usually divides into two (split), 3, or 4 "run groups", or groups of drivers divided by car classes (larger events can sometimes have more groups). For example, Group 1 runs, then group 2 runs. Then group 1 runs again, then group 2 runs again, and that's the end of the event. If you're in run group 1, that means you're driving during "Heats" 1 and 3, and not driving during "Heats" 2 and 4. For one of those times that you're not driving, we'll need for you to help us out by working the course.

Full information on course worker assignments is announced at the Drivers' Meeting held every event after registration closes and before runs start, so be sure to attend!

 
4.   Where can I find more information about autocrossing?  
 
  4.1.   Is there more information on the Internet?
    Yes. Autocrossing is gaining in popularity as you read this, and there are lots of great resources on the Internet. You can check the Official SCCA Website for official information on the sport. If you don't find enough information there, just do a web search and you'll find plenty more from local clubs and others. If you don't find enough information there, just do a web search and you'll find plenty more from local clubs and others.
 
  4.2.   Are there any books or magazines about autocrossing?
    A very good newsstand magazine about amateur motorsports is Grassroots Motorsports, which is available in both Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, among other places.Henry Watts has written a great book, Secrets of Solo Racing, with good information for the novice and advanced autocrosser alike. Highly recommended by THSCC's webmaster, it's ISBN number is 0-9620573-1-2. You could also just order it online from Amazon.com.