An Autocross Primer

Steve Lee and James Yen

We wanted to provide some information and advice if you’re interested in attending a Motor-Stadt or any other autocross. Just like all PCA events, an autocross is mostly about enjoying the company of fellow car enthusiasts and driving your Porsche. You do not need to be a racing fanatic or the next Mark Webber. We would love to have Motor-Stadt members come to participate, help run an event, or just spectate. With that being said, we thought it might be helpful to cover what happens at an autocross and what you might want to know if you’re thinking about attending.

2024 Events

Saturday, June 1, 2024 – Autocross I – Birch Run Speedway

Saturday, June 22, 2024 – Autocross II – Birch Run Speedway

Saturday, July 27, 2024 – Autocross III – Birch Run Speedway

10945 Dixie Hwy, Birch Run, MI 48415

Pre-autocross, before you leave home

• Decide what car to bring. There are typically several classes of vehicles (Porsche, non-Porsche, stock, modified, etc.), depending on the particular event. Cars will need to pass a safety inspection. For the most part, you can bring whatever car you feel comfortable in, Porsche or not. However, trucks, motorcycles, and vehicles with high centers of gravity are typically not allowed.

• Bring a helmet if you have one. It should have a Snell “SA” rating. If you don’t have a helmet, the sponsoring club usually has helmets you can use.

• Remove anything unnecessary from your car. Empty the trunk/frunk, remove floor mats, and any other loose items. Not only does this increase your power/weight ratio, it also prevents loose items from moving around the car as you go around the track.

• Pack track supplies. Now that your car is empty, fill it back up with anything that will make your track experience more comfortable. You may want to bring tools, tire pressure gauge, a lawn chair, cooler, lunch, bottled water, sunscreen, a tarp to cover-up anything you leave in the pit area, etc.

Pre-autocross at the track

• Claim a spot in the pit or holding area and unload your track supplies. Use a tarp under and over your stuff just in case there is rain or wind. These items are usually safe from theft.

• If you are driving, register yourself and your car, pay the entry fee to participate (no fee for volunteering or spectating), and get a wrist band and car number if your car does not have one. EVERYONE, drivers, volunteers, and spectators, must sign the insurance waiver.

• All cars will be inspected for safety. This typically consists—at a minimum—of torquing lug nuts and a general safety checklist.

• Ιf necessary, help set up the autocross course on the track with orange cones and the timing equipment.

• All participants will do a track walk-through to clean up the track and learn the course.

• There will be several roles to be filled by volunteers, from starting drivers, watching for penalty or DNF violations, helping to reset knocked over cones, or handing out time slips. Find out what roles need to be filled and how you can help.

• Throughout the day there will be quite a bit of waiting, so it’s a great time to meet and chat with your fellow PCA members.

During the autocross

• This is not a wheel-to-wheel racing event. Only one car is on the track at a time.

• It’s only you against the clock (go at your own pace).

• New drivers will ride with an instructor until they are comfortable. Only drivers and instructors are allowed in the car during timed runs.

• Birch Run Speedway has banked turns. It’s really fun to drive on a real racetrack. Other autocrosses may be on an unbanked track, a parking lot, a drag strip, an airport runway, or other suitable venues.

• Cars will line up and the starter will indicate when a driver should proceed to the start line on the track. You begin a run when you are ready.

• Runs are timed by driving through electronic gates.

• Each person may get up to three practice runs and then six or eight “official” runs. In other cases, all runs may be official.

• Each run is typically less than a minute and includes multiple corners, curves, and slaloms.

• Top speeds are typically in the 50-75 MPH range, and then only for a short distance.

After the autocross

• If trophies are given out they will be by car category. Other awards may also be given (e.g. Fastest Time of the Day). The best time out of the six or eight official runs will be used to rank drivers.

• Help clean up cones and the track grounds when the event is over. Typically this only takes a few minutes. We want to pick up after ourselves and leave the track as we found it or better!

Hopefully this article makes the autocross seem less daunting. It’s a chance to have fun and spend some time with other Motor-Stadt and PCA members. At the end of the day, we’d love to see you at an autocross whether you’re participating, volunteering, or just watching.