Each run group has a scheduled time to run the course, and each group is classified based on car modification. Make sure you are on grid at least 10 minutes before your scheduled run time if you don’t want to be in the back of the line. As a first time auto crosser, you will most likely run in a group specifically made for novices, regardless of your car’s modifications. If a novice run group is not available, your tech inspector will help place you in the class that best matches your vehicle. Regardless, if you mention that you are a novice, you may be able to have an instructor sit in with you at your request, with the number of instructors permitting. This will be helpful to you so that you won’t accidentally mistake the cone slalom for a straightaway, earning you personal attention as the butt of a joke over the loud speaker from the announcer, who is usually a smart ass.
The process of tech’ing your vehicle is practically identical to the tech inspection explained in Part 2’s Drag Racing 101 article. Before tech inspection, find a level area to pit your car so that you will not have to use your e-brake after you run the course. Make sure that the numbers that are on both sides of your car are legible, as ghetto as they may look
When you run on the road course, you use your brakes heavily, which super heats the rotors and pads. Clamping your e-brake down and squeezing your already hot rotors between two even hotter pads does not allow the heat to dissipate evenly across the rotor and can cause your rear rotors to warp. Like drag racing, auto crossing is great for beginners, as well as seasoned professionals. Auto crossing is the perfect place to start because as a beginner, you are walked through the process with people who are ready and willing to help. Plus there is little risk of crashing your car; unlike road racing, auto crossing usually permits only one vehicle out on the track at a time, and spinning out results in nothing more than displacing cones.
Another aspect of auto crossing is working the course. As part of the obligation to making the auto cross function, if you drive the course for a run group, you have to work the course for another run group in exchange. After all, someone has to be out there chasing after the cones you knock out of place.
Though auto crossing is fun and challenging, I personally prefer hot lapping on a road course. With auto crossing, there is an annual fee of $50 dollars and a $30 dollar fee each day you run, with each day’s total rack time averaging less than 5 minutes. On top of that, you are required to be a course worker for about an hour. Road racing on the other hand, has a $35 dollar annual fee, with 2 days of track time averaging an hour and a half of track time each day! Though it costs roughly $280 for the entire weekend, ultimately you are paying less for your total track time – and your lazy self doesn’t have to work! (Although I do recommend working – it gives you a greater appreciation of the corner workers at the track during road racing events)