I think I answered most of this in the post yo' face thread (bring water, don't be an ass), but in more detail I'll try and give you some newbie autox driving advice.ZeroSum wrote:I want to start SCCA next season, but I don't want to go drive two hours to the nearest one alone and have no idea what I'm doing. Tips on how to get over this slight anxiety?MotorToad wrote:And don't think that I'm a stranger to driving, I have five regional SCCA championships.
First and foremost, and this is gonna sound weird, but don't drive aggressively. Drive quickly and confidently, but not trying to be the next king of the WRC. Keep the car underneath you and keep up with your steering, sliding around and trying to make up for being late on your car placement will kill you dead. Any time you find you can't put the car exactly where you want to put it, you're in over your head and you're throwing away time like beads at Mardi Gras.
Another nearly universal rookie mistake is responding to understeer. When you're at the car's limit of adhesion usually the front end loses grip first. Manufacturers engineer that into cars because they think it's safer if the car plows rather than swapping ends (if the rear broke loose first, read up on the Corvair or any other car with a swingaxle rear suspension). When the car stops responding to your steering inputs, stop inputting steering! Turning the steering wheel more just puts the tires further from their direction of rotation and makes them less able to turn the car. If this happens you can feel the traction limit in the steering wheel and get the most out of it by "sawing the wheel" back and forth over the limit... up to the limit steering wheel is slightly harder to turn, past the limit it's easier to turn. (In idealworld it's better to keep it under the limit and keeping the tires in the grip zone, not sawing back and forth over it, but that's not possible to do as a n00b; many years experience before you can hope for that, and sawing is how you get the feel for the limit.)
I can't overstress car placement, your time is the average mph, or distance traveled over speed traveled. It's WAY easier to reduce the distance traveled compared to increasing the speed traveled. Make smooth arcs in all your turns and make sure that you're as close as you can be to the cones that define the course. There will be dozens of cones that don't matter a whit, but in the morning when you walk the course you can find those that do (or those that you think will, I've been autoxing for 15 years and I still can't read a course every time).
Brakes. Most people don't use more than half of the car's braking ability in their lives. Brake late but not in a panic.
All the controls need a smooth application in order to work. Brakes, throttle, and steering should all be applied evenly to allow the weight to transfer to the tires that are going to be doing the work. You can use an incredible amount of braking force, but if you don't let the front tires take the weight of the car first they won't have grip and they'll lock prematurely... which means the weight will never transfer and you'll brake poorly and flat spot your tires.
Speaking of tires, you don't need or even want race tires to start out with, lower grip tires are easier to learn to drive on. You do want decent tires at least and you'll want to have enough air in them that you're not scraping the sidewall. Too much air, though, and you're sacrificing grip.
I could go on... but I'll stop here.