Author Topic: The official Auto-X thread  (Read 12477 times)

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Offline MX793

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The official Auto-X thread
« on: August 21, 2016, 06:31:45 pm »
There are a few of us that auto-x pretty regularly.  Figured it might make sense to start a thread to accumulate videos, photos, stories, tips, etc...

I've been running SCCA Solo since 2010.  I ran the last 2 events of the 2010 season in my Mazda3 as a novice, did reasonably well, was immediately hooked, and subsequently ran full seasons starting in 2011 with my Mustang.  I ran the '11 Mustang as my primary auto-x vehicle for 5 seasons.  Four of those were in the F Stock/Street class.  There was one year I decided to run in STX (despite the car being stock).  I raced the Mazda a few times in '11 and '12.  Mostly in years when I was in a close points race for overall season PAX points, and had already locked up my class class title, since the Mazda had a significantly better PAX handicap.  The Mazda3 was also just a really good auto-x car (and they still are very capable).  I ran my Jetta once last year, in our last event of the season, because I was expecting my new/current Mustang to arrive at any day and didn't want to risk anything happening to the 2011 days before trading it in.  I'll never take the VW to an Auto-X again.  Absolutely horrible auto-x vehicle.  I would rather not go than race that car.

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Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2016, 06:59:26 pm »
And a couple of videos from today's very wet event.  Due to a short course and very low turn-out (like <15 people), we got 20 runs in despite the horrible weather.  The course layout was fun, but with the weather it definitely favored small, FWD or AWD cars.  The pavement at the turn-around in the far end of the course has some kind of sealant on it that turns extremely slick when wet.  I had a lot of trouble putting power down.  You can tell it's a lot slicker because I'm only pulling ~.4-.45g around that corner while at other places, like the sweeper leading up to the finish, I'm pulling .75-.8.  Oh, and the standing water made for some interesting hydroplane action.

These were when the track was at its wettest during the first heat of runs.





The rain eventually let up, but the pavement was never dry.  Well, not until the event was over and then the sun came out as we were doing fun runs before picking up all of the cones.

As to fun runs, I got to try out a couple of other folks cars.  Drove a Z3M Roadster.  Ran B Street, so minimal mods (if any).  Had a better set of tires on it than I have on my car.  Much better front end grip on the slick portion of the track.  Fun car.  Not a lot of punch below 4000 RPM (I think my last V6 Mustang had more grunt down low), but on slick track that's not a bad thing.  The ESP was also really intrusive.  Good for keeping you from fishtailing, but it didn't allow any amount of sliding whatsoever.  Not quite as bad as my previous Mustang, but noticeable.  Clutch and shifter didn't feel quite as nice as my Mustang either.  Shifter didn't feel as precise and the clutch had a strange effort level (and the friction point was very near the bottom of the pedal).  Timing lights were still set up and I put in a respectable time for a car I'd never driven before.  I let the owner take the Mustang out for a couple of laps.  Even with all of the nannies on, the Mustang allows quite a bit of sliding and rotation.  He seemed to be having fun letting the car slide around a bit.  He was trying to chuck it into the turns as I suspect he could with his car and the Mustang really doesn't respond as well to jerkier inputs, particularly with the throttle.  My car was definitely more of a blunt instrument than the Z3M.

Also took a spin in a modified NA Miata.  Car had a bunch of suspension work and a little bit of motor work (bolt-ons, IIRC.  Doubt it was making even 140 hp).  The owner let a couple of guys who normally run FWD or AWD cars take it out and both either spun out completely or fishtailed off the course.  One spun it twice.  After the second guy fishtailed off course, the owner laughing his ass off the whole time, they rolled into the pits and the owner joked that his car was apparently built to be a widowmaker.  At which point, I just had to take it for a spin to see how much of a handful it really was.  It wasn't like it was turbo'ed and had some kind of explosive power surge when the turbo spooled.  I made the circuit without any real drama.  Car was understeering in the slick back section, so I gave it a bit of gas to rotate the back and around.  Did a little sliding through the slalom.  Owner was laughing the whole way.  I pull into the pits and the two guys who'd previous tried it and spun out are waiting there and the first words out of my mouth were "This thing's a lot of fun, but could use some more power."  Followed by "Not sure why you guys had so much trouble keeping it pointed straight".
« Last Edit: August 21, 2016, 07:08:37 pm by MX793 »
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Offline CaminoRacer

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2016, 07:13:29 pm »
Why's the VW so bad?
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Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2016, 07:23:19 pm »
Why's the VW so bad?

Horrible understeer and the car cannot be coaxed to rotate by left foot braking into a turn.  I wonder if the ESP is even fully defeatable.  Body motion is actually pretty well controlled for how soft it is.  Doesn't dive as badly as my '11 Mustang did when hard on the brakes.  However, the brakes are mushy feeling and have little feel.  And when the ABS engages, the pedal goes really soft.  Steering likewise offers no feedback whatsoever.  Engine seems to make more sound than fury above 3500 RPM and the transmission is not a willing partner.  Won't hold gears in manual mode and sort of does what it wants, taking commands to shift more as suggestions.  It sounds like it has a CVT because I'm pretty sure it doesn't lock the torque converter in 1st or 2nd gear, so the RPMs kind of stayed at like 4800 regardless of what speed the car was going until it would pre-maturely shift into 3rd as I entered a long (for auto-x) straight away because I spun an inside tire and the RPMs came close to redline.  Then it locked the torque converter and bogged along the straight away, refusing to downshift back into second.  Even excusing the crappy, Chinese tires, the car was didn't exhibit many good traits where you could say "well, if I had better tires, this car could do pretty well".  I ended up getting beat by some people who I generally have little trouble beating.  Also a couple of novices with significantly worse PAX modifiers (for two of them this was their first ever event, and I have run against them since and they have not come close to beating me).
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Offline veeman

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2016, 06:52:09 am »
This seems like a lot of fun.  I should try it. 

Have you ever seen someone crash another person's car? 

Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2016, 08:57:26 am »
In post-event fun runs?  No. 

Incidents at traditional auto-x venues are very rare.  Courses are set up in large parking lots (or air fields) where there simply isn't much to run into.  There are also course safety guidelines about keeping a minimum safe distance from hard obstacles like curbs or light posts.  In my time doing it, I've personally only seen one instance of a car being damaged on a cone course (driver lost control and bumped into a light post at between 5 and 10 mph.  From what I could see, the bumper and a headlight were damaged.  I've heard of 2 other cases.  One involved vehicle equipment failure (stuck throttle on a 427 Cobra kit car) that did a fair bit of damage.  This did not happen at an SCCA event.  The other was another low speed incident that only resulted in some minor paint damage on a dedicated race car that was already in rough shape, cosmetically, anyway.  I think the driver bumped into a saw horse or similar mobile barrier that was being used barricade off the lot we were using.

Most incidents I've seen were at non-traditional venues (kart tracks).  From what I gather, my local SCCA region is somewhat unique in using such venues.  None of the neighboring SCCA regions use such venues.
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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2016, 09:11:12 am »
Great thread. I've done very little AutoX but I think it is great fun and demands skill.

Very ocassionally our track club sets up an AutoX course. Last time was maybe a couple of years ago.
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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2016, 09:15:52 am »
Man, that camera looks fantastic.  Which one did you get again?  I might consider upgrading from my gopro.

I might have an event or two in me before the year is up.  There is a track day in the future as well, but kind of intimidated by that do not sure.


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Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2016, 09:29:53 am »
Garmin Virb XE.  The cheaper Virb X offers most of the same features.
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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2016, 04:29:47 pm »
Some additional footage from last week's event.  First video was my best run of the day (very wet, but the rain was down to the lightest of sprinkles).  Second video was probably the spookiest run of the day.  When the front left tire hit the standing water, the whole car cocked ~10-15 degrees counter-clockwise and was briefly pointed at a pole before straightening out.  Then I overcooked the turnaround and had to use a little right foot to correct for terminal understeer, and since the run was pretty well shot, I threw in a little drift through the finish lights (note, all driving aids were fully on).



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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2016, 08:38:31 pm »
Pretty good results today.  3rd in PAX, only .054 PAX seconds off of second.  What stings a little is that my last run would have been fast enough to take 2nd place (rather, re-take; I was in 2nd at the end of heat 1 and lost it through the course of the afternoon heat) but I clipped a cone.  That run was ~.2s quicker than my fastest clean run, and the cone I clipped wasn't in a line that made my run any faster.  Oh well.  If you don't clip a cone now and again, you aren't trying hard enough. 

My fastest clean run of the day

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Offline Cookie Monster

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2016, 08:41:43 pm »
How many runs do you get? That last one looks like a pretty long course.

The auto-x I've gone to has always been a "cone forest" with very tight courses that aren't a whole lot of fun. Plus, $40 for 4 sub-1 minute runs is not a very good deal.

I'll always be a track person (though I don't go that often) but that looks like a lot of fun.
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Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2016, 09:13:17 pm »
How many runs do you get? That last one looks like a pretty long course.

The auto-x I've gone to has always been a "cone forest" with very tight courses that aren't a whole lot of fun. Plus, $40 for 4 sub-1 minute runs is not a very good deal.

I'll always be a track person (though I don't go that often) but that looks like a lot of fun.

Depends on the turnout and length of course.  We typically try to give people 6 runs minimum.  That excludes the "enduro", where runs are 2:45-2:55 and people only get 3 runs.  Looking at this year's events:

Event 1:  ~75s/run, 31 entries, 8 runs
Event 2:  ~75s/run, 26 entries, 8 runs
Event 3:  ~68s/run, 45 entries, 5 runs (my recollection is things didn't run smoothly and there were a bunch of re-runs)
Event 4:  ~35s/run, 23 entries, 16 runs
Event 5:  ~170s/run, 31 entries, 3 runs
Event 6:  ~28s/run, 83 entries, 8 runs
Event 7:  ~35s/run, 13 entries, 20 runs (maximum the timing SW can handle) + I think just about everyone took a couple of unscored fun runs
Event 8:  ~47s/run, 26 entries, 10 runs
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Offline Cookie Monster

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2016, 09:20:27 pm »
Damn, that's awesome! Do you have to work the course as well? How much is it if you don't mind me asking?
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Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2016, 10:27:24 pm »
Damn, that's awesome! Do you have to work the course as well? How much is it if you don't mind me asking?

Yes, everybody who runs has to work.  My work assignment is typically running registration in the morning.  If attendance is good, that takes care of my worker responsibilities for the event, so I can just hang out and spectate in my off-heat.  Since, this year especially, attendance hasn't been great, I've also worked timing in my off heat.  Only event this year I've had to work on the course was a joint event with a neighboring region that was hosted/run by the other region.  Their people worked the "cushy" jobs and I got put out on the course to flag and chase cones.

We charge $35 for SCCA members and $45 for non-members locally.  Not a great value when you consider $/minute of seat time.  But, the two venues my region runs at are both pretty close (one is <20 miles, the other ~25).  So it's convenient.  Only road course nearby is Watkins Glen, and that's like 85 miles away.  They don't have open track days; you have to belong to a club (Porsche Club, BMW Club, Miata Club, generic track club), which means you have annual dues (and for the brand-specific clubs, have to own one of that make of car), plus the track day fee is at least $450 (plus newbies, if they're allowed to run at all, have to pay for an instructor).  Last time I figured it out, it would have cost me over $550 for a single day with maybe 30 minutes of seat time and the non-branded clubs I'd be able to join and run with only run there once a year.  I've gotten roughly 55 minutes of seat time for a total of $330 (entry fees + SCCA annual membership) so far this year.

Other benefits:
-Not nearly as hard on your car.  I ran 5 seasons (~30 events) on my last car and still had the factory brake pads in it and was on my 2nd set of tires (which I also daily drove on).
-Minimal risk of a wreck.  Don't have money or space for a dedicated track rat, don't want to risk putting my primary driver into a wall at high speed
-Solo offers friendly competition with a points series, trophies, awards, etc.  Running a season in a tight points race with a competitor (or several competitors) is a lot of fun, and part of what you're paying for.  2nd-5th in our points series have been close since like event 4.  At the start and end of every event, people run through the hypothetical scenarios or likelihoods of gaining, losing, or maintaining position in the points standings.  Makes you a bit more invested in it than if you're just out there to run laps and try to better your own time.  HPDEs and non-competitive track days don't offer that.

I'd still like to try an HPDE sometime.  There's a new road course facility being built like 15 miles away (though it's been delayed so many times I question if it will really happen...  Been hearing "we'll be up and running by October" since 2012).  Hopefully they'll offer some HPDEs or track days for a more reasonable price than the Glen.  30 minutes of track time for ~$250, I'd probably go for that.  The track being very close by is nice, too, since I won't have to either get up at 4AM or get a hotel room to get there in time for morning registration and driver's meeting.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2016, 10:33:27 pm by MX793 »
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Offline Cookie Monster

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2016, 11:00:05 pm »
Damn, your track fees are expensive as fuck. For the HPDE I go to, it's $175 for Thunderhill/Laguna/Buttonwillow and $250 for Sonoma. Add another $25 for a transponder rental. You get 6-7 20 minute sessions, plus a time attack session during lunch where, if you choose to participate, your times in the morning sessions determine how you grid up for the time attack, so you have the faster drivers up front and people don't get tangled up.

We also have a competition with points, classes, awards, etc. It doesn't follow the Stock/STR/STX SCCA rules but its got a similar concept. 120-140 minute sessions for $175-200 with competition makes auto-x completely worthless to me. Sure, your car takes more of a beating and if you want to be competitive for a season it'll be super expensive (I think a season pass is like $3.5k), but you get so much seat time which really helps you improve.
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President of the "I survived the Volvo S80 Thread" Club
2007 Mazda MX-5 | 1999 Honda Nighthawk 750 | 1989 Volvo 240 | 1991 Toyota 4Runner | 2006 Honda CBR600F4i | 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 | 1999 Honda CBR600F4 | 2009 Yamaha WR250X | 1985 Mazda RX-7 | 2000 Yamaha YZ426F | 2006 Yamaha FZ1 | 2002 Honda CBR954RR | 1996 Subaru Outback | 2018 Subaru Crosstrek | 1986 Toyota MR2
Or order from fortune auto and when lyft rider asks why your car feels bumpy you can show them the dyno curve
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Offline CaminoRacer

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2016, 11:58:11 pm »
Autox is a lot different than track days IMO. And honestly I like tighter technical courses the most. It really pushes your driving skills but without the risk factor.
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Offline Cookie Monster

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2016, 12:03:11 am »
I found things happen way too fast in auto-x for me. Or maybe it's because you only get 4 shitty laps in a maze of cones where you can barely see what's happening.

The Houston (yuck) SCCA auto-x also only had 5 or so runs but at least the course was more spread out.
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President of the "I survived the Volvo S80 Thread" Club
2007 Mazda MX-5 | 1999 Honda Nighthawk 750 | 1989 Volvo 240 | 1991 Toyota 4Runner | 2006 Honda CBR600F4i | 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 | 1999 Honda CBR600F4 | 2009 Yamaha WR250X | 1985 Mazda RX-7 | 2000 Yamaha YZ426F | 2006 Yamaha FZ1 | 2002 Honda CBR954RR | 1996 Subaru Outback | 2018 Subaru Crosstrek | 1986 Toyota MR2
Or order from fortune auto and when lyft rider asks why your car feels bumpy you can show them the dyno curve
1 3 5
├┼┤
2 4 R

Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2016, 06:07:18 am »
One of the points of Auto-x is being able to quickly learn a new course with no practice.  Anybody can get fast on a track when they run there regularly.  Auto-x courses are different every event.
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Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2016, 08:25:34 am »
Damn, your track fees are expensive as fuck. For the HPDE I go to, it's $175 for Thunderhill/Laguna/Buttonwillow and $250 for Sonoma. Add another $25 for a transponder rental. You get 6-7 20 minute sessions, plus a time attack session during lunch where, if you choose to participate, your times in the morning sessions determine how you grid up for the time attack, so you have the faster drivers up front and people don't get tangled up.

We also have a competition with points, classes, awards, etc. It doesn't follow the Stock/STR/STX SCCA rules but its got a similar concept. 120-140 minute sessions for $175-200 with competition makes auto-x completely worthless to me. Sure, your car takes more of a beating and if you want to be competitive for a season it'll be super expensive (I think a season pass is like $3.5k), but you get so much seat time which really helps you improve.

Yeah, at that price point, track days are a lot more appealing.  Especially if there's some level of competition.  Though I assume you book a hotel stay to run at most of those tracks?  IIRC, you live in the SF area, and all of those tracks are ~3 hours or more away.  Gotta factor that into the cost of the day.  Also, at >$200 per event, it gets mighty pricey trying to compete in a full points season (assuming a "season" is comparable to ours at 8-9 events).  I can run an 8 or 9-event points season of Auto-X for <$400.

Other factor is weather.  We have it here.  In the 18 weekends from May 1st to today, it's rained on 8 Saturdays and 7 Sundays (and it's supposed to rain today, so that will make 8).  That's nearly a 50% shot of getting stuck in a rainy weekend event.  Last year was similar.  Track days have to be booked weeks if not months in advance and most tracks I've looked at in the NE don't give refunds unless you cancel over a week in advance (and then it's only a partial).  No telling what the weather will do more than ~3-5 days in advance and it typically rains 3 days a week.  Sucks to commit hundreds of dollars to a track day and show up and it pours all day (see above rainy day footage).  Or worse, if it snows like it did at our first AutoX in mid May (which I didn't go to because my tires are no bueno at <50F)...  Like AutoX, I'm sure it's still fun in the rain, but not as fun as in the dry.  At least if I get stuck with a crappy weather day in AutoX, I'm only out <$50 bucks and odds are, at least half of the events will be in decent weather.  I also don't have to commit the money in advance since it's pay at the gate, so if it's really bad, like the snow day in May, I just don't go and still have ample opportunities to compete through the rest of the season.  If I only get the opportunity for 2 or 3 track days in a season and it rains at 1 or more of them, it kind of sucks.

Glen is expensive because, well, it's the Glen.  They host numerous professional racing series (NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup, IndyCar, WeatherTech Sports Car Challenge, etc...).  Though Laguna is a similar venue hosting similar caliber professional events.  I'm sure the fact that the Glen can only operate 5-6 months out of the year because snow plays into it.  The fact that tracks can't operate year round is also why there are fewer of them.  In NY, options are Watkins Glen, NY Safety Course, and Monticello.  Breakdown of costs:

Monticello - Private motor club.  A "Bronze" membership (lowest point of entry) costs $45,000 up front with a $4,300 per year for 10 years membership fee.  That membership level gets you 10 driving days (5 of those on weekends).

NY Safety Track - Primarily a motorcycle venue, but they do let cars run there once or twice a month.  Non-competitive.  $50 annual membership fee, $250/day for cars.  Not sure how much seat time you get in one day.  I'd imagine at least an hour.  If they offer automotive driving instruction/school, they don't advertise it.  I've heard that, despite the name, it's kind of sketchy on the safety front.  Maybe it's gotten better.

Watkins Glen - Any type of competitive event requires a racing license.  Several organizations hold non-competitive HPDEs.  Of those:
-Hooked On Driving - Completely non-competitive (don't even record lap times).  Hosting/Hosted 2, 3-day weekend events this season.  No annual membership fee.  Open to novices, but must pay a $50/day "tuition" fee for mandatory instruction.  $365 for a single day ($415 for novices), $675 for a 2-day event ($775 for novices), and $1000 for a 3 day event ($1150 for novices).  ~120 minutes of driving time per day.

-TracQuest - Hosting/Hosted 3 events this year, all on weekdays.  Non-competitive.  Must be a club member ($50 annual fee).  Single day registration only open for experienced, "solo qualified" drivers.  $750 for the 2-day event for a novice, $650 for a solo qualified driver.  Single day registration for solo qualified drivers is $400.

-Trackmasters - Hosting/Hosted 4, 2-day events this year, all on weekdays.  Non-competitive.  Intermediate skill level and up.  Not open to newbies (need to show proof of at least 10 past HPDE events or 5 previous HPDEs at WGI).  $295 per day for the Intermediate school, $340/day for the open track days (need to demonstrate a high experience level, e.g. a racing license).
Needs more Jiggawatts

2016 Ford Mustang GTPP / 2011 Toyota Rav4 Base AWD / 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS
1992 Nissan 240SX Fastback / 2004 Mazda Mazda3s / 2011 Ford Mustang V6 Premium / 2007 Suzuki GSF1250SA Bandit / 2006 VW Jetta 2.5

Offline Cookie Monster

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2016, 10:02:59 am »
Yeah, your prices are crazy. Also, good point about the weather. The HPDE's still run in the rain, but we don't have to sign up till a few days in advance so by then the weather forecasts are generally pretty reliable.

Hotel costs aren't really an issue. Laguna is 1.5 hours away so I just do that in a day trip. Thunderhill is less than 3 hours away (closer to 2 if you drive like an asshole), so I don't get a hotel for that either.

Buttonwillow is 3.5 hours away, so I get a hotel for that, but last time I went we split the room 4 ways and it was about $10 per person, so I don't factor that into the costs of the track day.
RWD > FWD
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2007 Mazda MX-5 | 1999 Honda Nighthawk 750 | 1989 Volvo 240 | 1991 Toyota 4Runner | 2006 Honda CBR600F4i | 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 | 1999 Honda CBR600F4 | 2009 Yamaha WR250X | 1985 Mazda RX-7 | 2000 Yamaha YZ426F | 2006 Yamaha FZ1 | 2002 Honda CBR954RR | 1996 Subaru Outback | 2018 Subaru Crosstrek | 1986 Toyota MR2
Or order from fortune auto and when lyft rider asks why your car feels bumpy you can show them the dyno curve
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Offline CaminoRacer

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2016, 03:39:36 pm »
Local GT-R getting a bit of daylight under the tire.

1969 El Camino - AutoXer

Offline Eye of the Tiger

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2016, 03:50:37 pm »
Hmm ... tricycles are not legal in that class.
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Offline r0tor

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2016, 05:30:27 pm »
I found things happen way too fast in auto-x for me. Or maybe it's because you only get 4 shitty laps in a maze of cones where you can barely see what's happening.

The Houston (yuck) SCCA auto-x also only had 5 or so runs but at least the course was more spread out.

The last auto-x I did was about 10 years ago... What a shit fest it was.  3 runs and the course  crossed over itself and then back tracked on itself resulting in a cone maze that had probably 75% of the runs DQ'd for missing cones because you couldn't figure out where the hell to go
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Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2016, 08:22:19 pm »
The last auto-x I did was about 10 years ago... What a shit fest it was.  3 runs and the course  crossed over itself and then back tracked on itself resulting in a cone maze that had probably 75% of the runs DQ'd for missing cones because you couldn't figure out where the hell to go

Maybe we're just good about designing reasonably easy-to-follow courses, but the vast majority of the time when I see somebody get lost on course and get DQ'ed for missing a cone or gate, it's somebody who didn't walk the course in the morning, or only walked it once.  I generally walk the course at least 5 times in the morning before the driver's meeting.  If there's a section I find potentially confusion, I'll double back and re-walk that section a couple of times.  Also not uncommon for me to tag along on the guided novice course walk that's generally hosted by one of the course designers, since they try to point out any potential confusion spots to the novices so they don't get lost.  Even on courses that I helped design and set up, I'll walk the course once or twice the morning of the event to keep it fresh in my mind.
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2016 Ford Mustang GTPP / 2011 Toyota Rav4 Base AWD / 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS
1992 Nissan 240SX Fastback / 2004 Mazda Mazda3s / 2011 Ford Mustang V6 Premium / 2007 Suzuki GSF1250SA Bandit / 2006 VW Jetta 2.5

Offline CaminoRacer

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2016, 12:01:27 am »
I always walk the course once, especially SCCA since the cones are pretty far apart. If it's a particularly interesting course I'll walk twice. I've done a few Goodguys courses without walking (if I show up late), which is fun. :lol: never gotten lost before, worst that's happened is I looped around for a 3rd lap when I was only supposed to do 2. It was early and I forgot how to count.

Last year at OUSCI I volunteered on course and we had a hell of a time keeping people from crashing into the starting line. It was a figure 8 track and for some reason people kept turning left instead of going straight through. Had to red flag way too cars to keep them from running head-on into the next car. Embarrassing since those guys are supposed to be some of the best drivers in the country.
1969 El Camino - AutoXer

Offline MX793

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2017, 12:36:27 pm »
Looking at the SCCA rulebook for 2017.  Whatever committee or person is responsible for determining what cars fall into what class needs some sense talked into them.  Particularly in the lower end of the Stock classes (DS, GS, and HS).  Instead of pushing class over-dogs up into a faster class, they are pushing everybody else down.  It's left HS, the slowest stock class, with a huge number of eligible vehicles and with a huge range of capability.  It's also made cars that could be reasonably competitive in that class, the types of cars that class was actually intended for, no longer viable.  The practice is also hurting everyone else by handing a huge handicap boost to cars that were still very competitive with the handicap they had.

Back 6-7 years ago when I started, I felt the classes were generally appropriate.  Looking back at the 2012 rule book:

HS was the economy car class.  It was open to non-performance versions of Civics, Sentras, Proteges/Mazda3s, Corollas, 4-banger midsizers, base Mini...  The slower generations of Civic Si (early 90s, late 90s, and EP3) were the only "performance" trim compacts really in this class, but weren't really over-dogs and were class appropriate.  Also picked up some of the entry-level sport compacts like non-turbo DSMs.  Only cars in that class with over 200 hp were Chrysler LH cars, which were full-size, heavy, and saddled with 4AT.  Other than those, the typical Power/Weight ratio in that class was right around .05 hp/lb.

GS was the next class up and picked up cars that were more powerful or more specialized.  FWD turbo DSMs, V6 midsizers, Preludes, 8th gen Civic Si, GTI (1.8T and 2.0T), Mazdaspeed Protege, Sentra SE-R.  Most of the non-V8 pony cars (150-200 hp Mustangs and Camaros).  2.5 Imprezas were here too because they made a bit more power than much of the econo-car class and their AWD gave them an edge.  Generally speaking, typical P/W was around .07 hp/lb.

DS was the intermediate GT car class.  NA 6-cylinder/turbo-4 3-series, V6 versions of the late-model pony cars (now that they were making ~300 hp), G35/37, Lexus IS...  Also the top dogs of the sport compact class.  Mazdaspeed3, Integra type R, Mini Cooper S, AWD Turbo DSMs, WRX, R32 Golf, Cobalt SS Turbo.  P/W was in the .08-.09 region.

It all kind of started with the Focus ST in 2013.  Despite stacking up very well against something like the Cobalt SS Turbo or Mazdaspeed3 in DS, the SCCA put it in GS.  Only explanation I have is that it was because the FoST didn't have a limited slip.  The car was a serious over-dog in GS.  I figured the SCCA would see their error and bump it up to DS where it belonged within a season or two. 

They didn't do anything about it in '14.  They did put the new Fiesta ST in GS as well, which I'd say belonged there more than the FoST.  Given that the Cooper S was in DS and has similar specs to the FiST, I think it could have run in DS as well.  500 Abarth was also in GS, and I think that was a good fit.

Then in '15 they shuffled the classifications.  But instead of moving the FoST up to DS, they moved a bunch of cars from GS down to HS.  Notably, they moved the newer Civic Sis and the FiST down to HS.  They also moved a bunch of the V6 Midsizers, like the Altima 3.5, down to HS as well.  These cars have a huge power/weight advantage over what had been in HS previously.  Not only better power, but they came with wider stock wheels and better stock suspension tuning.  This effectively made almost all of the previously competitive HS cars non-contenders.  No way that a stock Corolla or non-Si Civic will keep pace with a FiST or new Si given similar drivers.  So now you have cars like the FiST and CSi not only as over-dogs within their class, but also general over-dogs because they got an even better overall scoring handicap.

They didn't really do much deck shuffling in 2016.  Looking at '17, they finally put the FoST in the same class as the MPS3 and Turbo Cobalt SS.  Not by moving it up to DS, but by moving those cars down from DS (where they were still competitive) to the slower GS class.  They then shifted a few more GS cars down into HS, including the 500 Abarth.  Oddly, the MkIV and V GTIs have stayed in GS.

Having formerly competed in HS with a regular economy car, the kind of car that the class was intended for, I think the recent class re-alignments have been especially terrible for that class.  Several local members driving <160 hp economy cars have raised the idea of starting an IS class for the "traditional" HS cars that now can't really compete with the former GS cars that have been moved down.  Beyond that, I, and others I'm sure, find it frustrating when drivers I was neck-and-neck with for years in adjusted time suddenly get "faster" purely because their car got bumped to a slower class with a better handicap.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2017, 12:54:52 pm by MX793 »
Needs more Jiggawatts

2016 Ford Mustang GTPP / 2011 Toyota Rav4 Base AWD / 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS
1992 Nissan 240SX Fastback / 2004 Mazda Mazda3s / 2011 Ford Mustang V6 Premium / 2007 Suzuki GSF1250SA Bandit / 2006 VW Jetta 2.5

Offline CaminoRacer

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2017, 01:27:48 pm »
Yay for CAM.



Not my best run or weekend - needed 200TW tires and stiffer springs for that course. My steering inputs seemed pretty jerky too.

Here's a local event that my dad went to two weeks later. Unfortunately I was already back at school. Looks like a fun location - circle track + in field.

« Last Edit: January 16, 2017, 01:43:42 pm by CaminoRacer »
1969 El Camino - AutoXer

Offline Eye of the Tiger

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2017, 01:42:36 pm »
Why ur tires so squeaky?
And what kind of CAMera do you use?
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Offline Eye of the Tiger

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Re: The official Auto-X thread
« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2017, 01:45:02 pm »
Looking at the SCCA rulebook for 2017.  Whatever committee or person is responsible for determining what cars fall into what class needs some sense talked into them.  Particularly in the lower end of the Stock classes (DS, GS, and HS).  Instead of pushing class over-dogs up into a faster class, they are pushing everybody else down.  It's left HS, the slowest stock class, with a huge number of eligible vehicles and with a huge range of capability.  It's also made cars that could be reasonably competitive in that class, the types of cars that class was actually intended for, no longer viable.  The practice is also hurting everyone else by handing a huge handicap boost to cars that were still very competitive with the handicap they had.

Back 6-7 years ago when I started, I felt the classes were generally appropriate.  Looking back at the 2012 rule book:

HS was the economy car class.  It was open to non-performance versions of Civics, Sentras, Proteges/Mazda3s, Corollas, 4-banger midsizers, base Mini...  The slower generations of Civic Si (early 90s, late 90s, and EP3) were the only "performance" trim compacts really in this class, but weren't really over-dogs and were class appropriate.  Also picked up some of the entry-level sport compacts like non-turbo DSMs.  Only cars in that class with over 200 hp were Chrysler LH cars, which were full-size, heavy, and saddled with 4AT.  Other than those, the typical Power/Weight ratio in that class was right around .05 hp/lb.

GS was the next class up and picked up cars that were more powerful or more specialized.  FWD turbo DSMs, V6 midsizers, Preludes, 8th gen Civic Si, GTI (1.8T and 2.0T), Mazdaspeed Protege, Sentra SE-R.  Most of the non-V8 pony cars (150-200 hp Mustangs and Camaros).  2.5 Imprezas were here too because they made a bit more power than much of the econo-car class and their AWD gave them an edge.  Generally speaking, typical P/W was around .07 hp/lb.

DS was the intermediate GT car class.  NA 6-cylinder/turbo-4 3-series, V6 versions of the late-model pony cars (now that they were making ~300 hp), G35/37, Lexus IS...  Also the top dogs of the sport compact class.  Mazdaspeed3, Integra type R, Mini Cooper S, AWD Turbo DSMs, WRX, R32 Golf, Cobalt SS Turbo.  P/W was in the .08-.09 region.

It all kind of started with the Focus ST in 2013.  Despite stacking up very well against something like the Cobalt SS Turbo or Mazdaspeed3 in DS, the SCCA put it in GS.  Only explanation I have is that it was because the FoST didn't have a limited slip.  The car was a serious over-dog in GS.  I figured the SCCA would see their error and bump it up to DS where it belonged within a season or two. 

They didn't do anything about it in '14.  They did put the new Fiesta ST in GS as well, which I'd say belonged there more than the FoST.  Given that the Cooper S was in DS and has similar specs to the FiST, I think it could have run in DS as well.  500 Abarth was also in GS, and I think that was a good fit.

Then in '15 they shuffled the classifications.  But instead of moving the FoST up to DS, they moved a bunch of cars from GS down to HS.  Notably, they moved the newer Civic Sis and the FiST down to HS.  They also moved a bunch of the V6 Midsizers, like the Altima 3.5, down to HS as well.  These cars have a huge power/weight advantage over what had been in HS previously.  Not only better power, but they came with wider stock wheels and better stock suspension tuning.  This effectively made almost all of the previously competitive HS cars non-contenders.  No way that a stock Corolla or non-Si Civic will keep pace with a FiST or new Si given similar drivers.  So now you have cars like the FiST and CSi not only as over-dogs within their class, but also general over-dogs because they got an even better overall scoring handicap.

They didn't really do much deck shuffling in 2016.  Looking at '17, they finally put the FoST in the same class as the MPS3 and Turbo Cobalt SS.  Not by moving it up to DS, but by moving those cars down from DS (where they were still competitive) to the slower GS class.  They then shifted a few more GS cars down into HS, including the 500 Abarth.  Oddly, the MkIV and V GTIs have stayed in GS.

Having formerly competed in HS with a regular economy car, the kind of car that the class was intended for, I think the recent class re-alignments have been especially terrible for that class.  Several local members driving <160 hp economy cars have raised the idea of starting an IS class for the "traditional" HS cars that now can't really compete with the former GS cars that have been moved down.  Beyond that, I, and others I'm sure, find it frustrating when drivers I was neck-and-neck with for years in adjusted time suddenly get "faster" purely because their car got bumped to a slower class with a better handicap.

I'll be running Versa S in HS. I don't expect to win anything.
••••• 1996 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 2WD AW4 ••••• 1993 Geo Storm 1.6 F3A ••••• Some kind of boat trailer •••••