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Old 07-19-2010, 10:24 AM   #1
The All-Seeing Mod
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Austin Tx
Posts: 1,774
Lancer's Beginners guide to Auto-X with the GTO

Autocross is a fantastic sport and a very cheap way to have fun with your car. Pricing will differ per racing club but should be fairly similar. Before charging out to jump in there are a few things to know first.

Rules, rules differ by club and what holds true for one place may not for another. If you are confused about anything your local club will be the best resource.

To learn more about Autocross in genereal here is a Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autocross

Check with your local club to see how to register, many clubs provide a discount for early registration. To find a club in your aurea it is usually as simple as doing a google search for "Autocross ______" and just fill in the name of your town or region.

Car setup:
Should I do anything to my car before going?
That is the great thing about autocross is that you don't have to do anything. You can take your car out as it is today and have fun. There are several class available to try and group simmilar cars together.

What do I need to do to be competitive?
So here is the deal, for the most part our cars are not competitive in the classes they are assigned. Don't get me wrong I feel they are classed correctly but our car wasn't really meant for precision control and fast cornering in tight areas. If you want to be competitive in Auto-X without spending a lot of money, go buy a Miata. Unless you really get into it heavily just go to have fun, and trust me it is a lot of fun.

The best thing that you can do for your car to go fast is keep going to Auto-X events. Just like any form of racing, seat time is the golden mod. You can spend thousands of dollars on your car and be outrun by someone that is stock but a really good driver. My knowledge of car control has grown immensly since I started. Stang2Goat has often wondered why when riding in my car I can take it around a corner faster than he can with his with almost none of the suspension mods he has done. Seat time is the key.

Blah Blah Blah Lancer, shut up and tell me more....
ok ok...

What classes are there for the GTO?
Your class will depend on what has been done with your car, also for each club they usually run a novice class. You will want to make sure originally that you are placed in novice along side your normal class. Your time gets an additional adjustment and you can compare how you are doing against people of similar experience levels. When you leave novice is up to your local club. My club recommends after 6 auto-x events that you should leave novice, or if you come in 1st in novice class they automatically remove you from novice class.

Here are the classes a GTO can enter and the type of mods they should have for each class

FS - Also refered to as "F Stock"
  • Accessories, gauges, indicators, lights and other appearance, comfort and convenience modifications which have no effect on performance and/or handling and do not materially reduce the weight of the car are permitted
  • Spare tires, tools and jacks may be removed. The engine air filter element may be removed or replaced.
  • A replacement element which is taller than standard may not be used to hold the air cleaner cover open. No other components of the air induction system may be removed, replaced or modified.
  • Street tires must be used for this class unless the Club has a seperate rule about this.
You can go into the rules all day with each class but for the most part if you are in a stock class your car should be stock. If you have to ask if a mod you did is legal then it most likely isn't

ESP - "E Street Prepared"
This class is a step up from the stock calls and is mostly for bolt on cars. there is another class we will cover in a bit that you might choose instead due to the compound R tires that are allowed in this class.
  • Fenders and bumpers may be modified for tire clearance. You may not replace a body panel with a flared body panel to accomodate larger tires but you may add a flare to a body panel.
  • Wheel spacers are permitted.
  • Any brake line, single or dual master cylinder, vacuum brake booster, brake proportioning valves may be used.
  • Any shock absorbers may be used, provided they attach to the original mounting points
  • Emission control devices may be modified or removed. This permits the oil filler cap to be modified or substituted, but does not allow valve covers or cam covers to be altered to install a breather or for any other purpose.
  • There are a lot more rules but basically the main rule for mods here is no internal engine mods.
STU - "Street Touring U"
Our cars are touring cars for the most part and this class is preferred by many GTO owners due to someof the limited restrictions it offers. In STU the displacement for NA engines is unlimited, but forced induction engines may be no larger than 3.1 liters. This keeps your Shelby GT500's out which they are allowed in both FS and ESP, so performance wise you are on par with most of what you are racing against.

Also this class is restricted to street tires so you can run your normal tires and not have to worry that the dude next to youjust dropped $1000 on a set of compound R's
  • The air intake system up to, but not including, the engine inletmay be modified or replaced. The engine inlet is the throttle body,carburetor, compressor inlet, or intake manifold, whichever comes first.
  • Exhaust manifolds and headers may be replaced with alternate units which are emissions-legal.

  • Engine mounts may be replaced, but must attach in the factory location(s) without additional modification or changes.
  • Suspension bushings may be replaced with bushings of any
    materials (except metal) as long as they fit in the original location.
  • Substitution, addition, or removal of any anti-roll bar(s) is
  • Any shock absorbers may be used. Shock absorber mounting brackets which serve no other purpose may be altered, added, or replaced, provided that the attachment points on the body/frame/subframe/chassis/suspension member are not altered.
There are of course a ton of rules these are just basics to let you know what you should expect. Most pedders dealers are aware of what suspension parts are legal for certain classes and can help you select what works well for our cars.

"SM" - Street Modified

This is a big daddy class and where you go when you have done things to your car that are beyond what the other classes will allow.

  • All Stock, Street Touring, and Street Prepared modifications are authorized.

  • Brakes, including calipers, caliper mounts, disks, drums, lines, backing plates, pedals, boosters, master cylinders, handles, ABS systems, proportioning valves, etc. are unrestricted.

  • Engine block must be a production unit manufactured and badged the same as the original standard or optional engine for that model. Badges that exist as marketing aliases for the manufacturer will be recognized as equivalents. Swaps involving makes related only at a corporate level are not
    recognized as equivalents. Models produced as a joint venture between manufacturers may utilize any engine from any partner in the joint venture, provided that an engine from the desired manufacturer was a factory option in that particular model (e.g. Eagle Talon available originally with either a Mitsubishi or Chrysler engine, may use any motor from Chrysler or Mitsubishi).

  • Suspension components are unrestricted as long as they use the original attachment points.

  • Subframe connectors are allowed
  • Hoods (engine covers), front fenders, front & rear facias, and side skirts may be modified or replaced, and may be attached with removable fasteners.

If you have done heads, cam, or a rebuilt motor. This is where you go.

2010 Mazdaspeed 3 Tech

Stratified S-OTS Stg2 93
JBR Power Path Stage 3
Autotech HPFP Internals
Sure Short Shift Plate
ABT Slotted Rotors
Cobb 3" Downpipe
Swift Spec-R Springs
JBR Rear Sway Bar

Last edited by Lancer-AM; 07-19-2010 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 07-19-2010, 10:24 AM   #2
The All-Seeing Mod
Lancer-AM's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Austin Tx
Posts: 1,774
What to expect on Race day:

Arrive early! This is important. This gives you time to get your car ready and complete tech without rushing.

Talk to as many people as possible. You will learn a lot about what is going on from talking to those around you.

Take plenty of water. You will be outside for a long time, and if you live in Texas like I do it is hot as hell outside. Our last event a dude passed out from the heat and we had to get EMS out there. Sunscreen is also very important and don't forget to re-apply.

Go to the Novice meeting and walk through. they will tell you a lot of information you need to know. The novice instructor will also walk you through the course and tell you how to read it. Autocross uses cones to paint the course. At first it looks a bit strange but quickly you will learn how to read them.

Air up your tires. For Drag racers this sounds really weird, why put air in your tires to go faster? basiclly you want your sidewalls stiff to hold up in the corners. You can put lines on the tires with chalk and monitor the chalk wear between runs to see if you need more or less air. If you are wearing the clak on the sides of the tires you need more air, if you are not wearing the chalk on the tread blocks you have too much air.

While racing in Autox is cheap there is another component. you need to work while you are there. At first what you will mainly do is course work. This means during one of the heats when you are not driving you are assigned to a corner and you have to watch the cones around you. You need to see if other drivers hit them and report them back to the timing trailer. Generally there will be an experienced person at each corner that will direct you and make sure you are being safe. Most Autox events they space the cars out by about 20 seconds so you don't have a lot of time to check and reset the cone. Haul ass and if it looks like you would get hit just leave the cone where it is and the driver that was interrupted can be given a re-run. Just be safe. After a few Autocrosses try to volunteer for other jobs and learn more about them.

There are tons of things I could write but this should give you a good start. Go out and have fun. It really is a blast.
2010 Mazdaspeed 3 Tech

Stratified S-OTS Stg2 93
JBR Power Path Stage 3
Autotech HPFP Internals
Sure Short Shift Plate
ABT Slotted Rotors
Cobb 3" Downpipe
Swift Spec-R Springs
JBR Rear Sway Bar

Last edited by Lancer-AM; 07-19-2010 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 07-19-2010, 12:18 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: League City, Tx
Posts: 2,217
Thanks Lancer!

Bunch of great info and I learned some new things from reading it...
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