How I Became Addicted to Motorsports

 

Some say he names his automobiles and talks to them.  Others say he’s been in rehab three times for a crippling addiction to Nutella.  All we know is, he’s called “The Stig’s Deranged Cousin.”

 

How I Became Addicted to Motorsports

By Vince Illi

When I purchased a new Mustang 5.0 about a month ago, my plan was to participate in motorsports that required more than accelerating in a straight line for a quarter mile.  Recently, I began my quest by participating in an autocross event organized by a local club.

Autocross has a bit of a bad rep around here.  I understand that it isn’t as thrilling as real road racing on a course like Road Atlanta or Summit Point, but I like it for what it is.  It’s a great way to get into motorsports at a novice level.  It is much less expensive than track days ($40 or so for a day), it’s very safe, it isn’t that hard on your car, and you can participate in just about any motor vehicle.  Heck, there was even a fellow at the event who drove a Honda Fit!

When I first got to the event, I really didn’t know what to expect (or even what to do, for that matter).  Fortunately, most people who participate in motorsports are very friendly and will go out of their way to give you advice, tips, and pointers.

The first thing I had to do after registering was get my car inspected.  To pass this inspection, all loose items (including floor mats) have to be removed from the vehicle.  The inspector also checks your battery, wheels, and other items to make sure they are secure.

 

 Wow, I’ve managed to accumulate a lot of junk in my car after only a month of ownership!

 

When you register, you’re given a number that has to be displayed on both sides of your car.  People who compete a lot have numbers permanently assigned and usually display their numbers with magnets.  I, however, had to use blue painter’s tape.

 

5.0 Mustang with autocross numbers
 Everything removed, numbers on the side and ready to go.

 

One of the challenges of autocross is that the course is different every time you go.  Because of this, the “course walk” is very important.  Walking the course is the first real part of the competition at an autocross event.  I walked the course once first with a veteran autocrosser who let me tag along.  During the first walk ofthe course, you should just focus on learning the course and not getting lost or mixed up.  This was especially important on this course, as the route doubled back on itself because the parking lot was rather small. 

 

Walking the autocross course
Walking the course, learning the layout, and figuring out the line are perhaps the most important parts of setting fast times.

 

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