by: Forest Gates
While cars such as the Honda Civic and Mazda Miata may not seem suitable for racing, one might not know that there are literally dozens of different classes for every car under the sun. These classes are based off of drive trains, wheel type, horsepower and user modifications, both light and heavy. While racing could be done in general conglomeration of whoever has the best car wins, the classes make it both more competitive and feasible and is what makes autocross available for everyone interested in pushing their car’s performance to the edge.
Autocross is a popular, nationwide motorsport based around safe competition. Autocross events across the country can either be sponsored by national organizations or be under the domain of local clubs. Chances are that there are likely a few events within driving distance. Local events can be either hosted at dedicated tracks or even, in the case of the Charlotte area, the Charlotte Knight’s parking lot. You can be a spectator at most of these events to see if it is right for you.
Competing is done by racing in a thoroughly studied track laid out typically by traffic cones, and the competitor is scored both on speed and efficiency (cones knocked over, et cetera). While some cars might try to wantonly blaze through tracks to get the best times, the most experienced and successful drivers are very clean in execution. This technique is encouraged in the autocross motto “smooth is fast.”
There is very little danger of serious injury on most local tracks, as speed is always hampered by tight corners and sloping turns. Speed limits are often enforced for safety and insurance purposes as well. One might even have to try to flip some cars over traffic cones on a flat, spacious lot to cause any serious accident on the track.
What are the requirements? To spectate, there are none. To participate as either a passenger or driver, the requirements vary but typically entail that one must be sixteen. Regardless of your qualifications, be sure to research it if you’re interested.