Why do we (still) autocross? | Garage Rescue Miata

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David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
Mar 24, 2022

It’s fun.

It’s social.

It’s challenging.

And, even at the local level, it offers an opportunity to interact with legends in the sport.

We ran our Garage Rescue Miata this past weekend with our local Central Florida Region SCCA–an unusual yet welcome Saturday event–and enjoyed a course designed by Karen Babb.

From her 2011 introduction into the SCCA Hall of Fame:

Karen Babb has excelled in every facet of SCCA Solo activities, including designer, administrator and event organizer, at the Region, Division and National levels of competition. Her 20 Solo National class wins is more than any other driver in the sport, a remarkable run that has come in 31 consecutive Solo National events. In addition to driving, Babb has equally shared the preparation of her D Modified Lotus Elan with her husband, Ron. Babb served many years on the Solo Events Board and remains active as Secretary of the Board where she carefully crafts and modifies the language in the rulebook to the benefit of all competitors. Babb’s work as a course designer has served as a model for a generation of members who have made Solo course design an area of specialty.

So, yeah, a legend in the sport.

We’d call this site average in size with good grip for asphalt. The lot has some elevation change to it, while the convention center offers clean, air-conditioned bathrooms–no porta potties here.

Her course walked a bit deceptively, however. It seemed a bit long, and some wondered how well it would accept multiple cars on course. Plus a few sections seemed a bit too tight.

Once behind the wheel, however, the layout’s true nature showed. The long straights shaved time–the faster cars were in the mid-30s–while the seemingly tight sections weren’t as feared, instead translating into quick, flowing maneuvers. The course could accommodate three cars at once.

More to love: The course didn’t confuse novices–no gimmicks, no tricks–while those with experience found it challenging.

It felt like a scaled-down, national-level course. So, yeah, just about everything you could want in an autocross.

How’d we do? Well, we had fun.

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aw614 Reader
3/23/22 1:49 p.m.

Fun event on Sat, I had some initial concerns about the course at first, but found it fun and challenging during the course of my 5 runs.

Looks like you caught me talking to Gene in his new BMW M240i lol

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/23/22 2:06 p.m.

In reply to aw614 :

I really dug the course as well. It was like Nationals but smaller. And closer to home. And with real bathrooms. smiley

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
3/23/22 2:16 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I'd be willing to bet that real bathrooms can have quite the effect on autocross times.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/23/22 2:20 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Nothing like having to use a porta-potty in August.

VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/23/22 2:53 p.m.

It's the most fun you can have locally without getting an exhibition ticket.

Nader New Reader
3/23/22 3:57 p.m.

I've had tremendous fun the 2 or 3 times I've autocrossed, but, like Disney Land, I grew tired of standing around for 6 hours just to get a few minutes of run time.  That's why I switched to WTW road racing.  The best of both worlds could be had by driving our sports cars on kart tracks.

gunner (Forum Supporter)
gunner (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/23/22 8:40 p.m.

I raced autocross from 2005 to 2008 and ended up not coming back the next year because the chairman, whom I was friends with stepped down and the guy that accepted the spot I wasn't a fan of. Extremely petty. More than that though the racing had become less fun because a guy in my class that started in 2006 was a super stickler with the rules, which wasn't a problem for me since my feeling is if I can't follow the rules and be competitive I need to move to a class where my car fits the rules, one day he got into it with another guy in our class over some little thing and there was yelling and all the bad stuff. What was our class? H- stock. There was bad blood between them for the next couple years and I really got tired of it. Over plastic trophies?? Truth be told, Me and the guy that this guy had problems with(the nice guy) swapped cars at the end of the day for a fun run. I had set ftd in class that day and he beat my time by 2 seconds in my car. Me? I was 4 seconds slower in his car because as I found out he had blown shocks and when I asked him about it he admitted he had been driving on them like that for over a year. He was legitimately a better driver than anyone else in the class. I haven't' been back since 2008.

Claff HalfDork
3/23/22 8:54 p.m.

I thought I was turning into track day bro guy and weaning myself from autocross. But I still ran with local SCCA since I was on the committee. I ran in my semi-retired STR NC just for ha-has.

When I was going through videos at the end of the year, I saw that I was still having very excited reactions when I crossed the finish and saw a good time come up on the display. That never gets old. I still cut back from running with all the other clubs in the area (they all switched to running at a meh site two hours from home), but I don't see myself giving up the sport completely anytime soon.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/23/22 9:01 p.m.

I'm sorry I missed it. Hate working weekends. 

parker Reader
3/23/22 9:11 p.m.

One of the biggest turnoffs about autocross was the feeling that calling out someone for cheating was bad form.  

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