What makes nighttime autocross so special?

David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
Feb 24, 2023 | Mazda, Miata, Autocross, Mazda Miata, pca, Garage Rescue Miata, Martin Sports Car Club, night autocross

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It’s like an endurance race, but for autocrossers. And for autocrossers who want to spend all day in the same parking lot.

That’s what we did this past Saturday at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.

The day kicked off with a traditional–meaning rise and shine–autocross held by our local Porsche Club of America chapter. Even though we’re longtime PCA members, we ran our Garage Rescue Miata in the Fun class.

And we had fun, sharing the grid with other locals–more Miatas plus BMWs, Corvettes and the usual suspects.

After an afternoon break–long enough to run into Orlando to pick up some camera gear–we were back for Martin Sports Car Club’s annual night event: three runs late in the day followed by three more after nightfall.

Some people added extra lights–festive or otherwise. We just ran our usual Hella H4s and hoped for the best. And our best was somewhat near okay.

By our clock, we rolled into the lot at about 8:00 that morning and left after 10:00 that evening. Fun runs were just getting going.

Too much standing around time for too little track time?

Here’s our take: We spent an entire day doing car stuff while seeing old friends and making new ones.

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
2/23/23 2:22 p.m.

"So what did you do over the weekend?"

Oh I stayed in a parking lot all day and played with cars. wink

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/23/23 4:26 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Yeah, pretty much–and ran to downtown Orlando to pick up some camera gear. Lunch at Wawa, dinner (again) from Publix and eaten while sitting on the curb. 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
2/23/23 4:29 p.m.

It was a long day for sure, but spending time with friends and making new friends really made it all the better. 

Despite being my civic being 300 pounds heavier and down nearly 60 horsepower, I went into the night session with a one second lead on the Fiesta ST in my class (not the one in the photo).

 I couldn't do much after dark.

My auxiliary lights weren't enough. 

I happened to have my annual eye exam the next day, cataract surgery is in my future. 

AMiataCalledSteve Reader
2/23/23 4:31 p.m.

I love night autocrosses, but unfortunately the venue our local club was using for our night series decided they didn't want us after almost 30 years. So now we're down to a single venue for the day series. I hope the club leaders are able to find a new venue, those autox nights were really magical.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/23/23 4:53 p.m.

In reply to AMiataCalledSteve :

You're right, there is something special/magical about the night events. I used to run night events in Jax a million years ago, and they just seemed more fun. Glad to have one back on the calendar. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/23/23 4:54 p.m.

In reply to Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) :

Yeah, you were having a good run out there. I, on the other hand, just ran into trouble approaching that first left. 

Still, fun times and good to run into you on I-4. (I had just done a pitstop.)

Jerry PowerDork
2/24/23 8:12 a.m.

We have one scheduled here in Dayton OH at Kil-Kare Raceway in July, could be fun with the light bar on the BRZ.  Unfortunately it's a weekend Star Wars event for me, have to see if I can squeeze everything in without being completely wiped out.  Maybe a vacation day Monday is prudent.

NickD MegaDork
2/24/23 8:53 a.m.

The first year I started autocrossing was the last year our region ran their night event, and I skipped it. Never had the opportunity again. Our region did it as two events in one day. They'd set up  the course that morning, run a shortened day event, break for dinner, then return and run the same course at night. They said it was neat to see how much times changed just based on the lighting, because they ran at a go-kart track out in the middle of nowhere and the track had no lights of it's own, so you just had your headlights for illumination.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/24/23 8:57 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

If you get the chance, try to go.

And, yeah, the course definitely changes with the light. We were in a convention center parking lot, so there was some ambient light–not a ton, but it wasn’t pitch black. 

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