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Preparing for First Autocross

Hey gang,

I bought my first 911 little over a year ago. After a lot of troubleshooting, the car is now fairly well-sorted. (I had lots of trouble with my steering rack, got frustrated enough to just get a new (to me) one installed). Here are some features of the car that someone with my experience probaby has no business needing:

- Quick ratio steering rack
- Smart Racing sway bars
- Tarrett adjustable bump steer kit
- 7/8 16 inch Fuchs
- LSD
- Wong Chip, cat-by-pass, 1/1 Dansk sport muffler
- Wevo shifter
- Slotted rotors w/ Porterfield brakes
- Cone air-intake
- Probably some other bits here and there


Similarly, after a year of seat time, I've learned the quirks of my 915 gearbox and feel comfortable taking it to the next level (I started a thread 6 months ago thinking that my gearbox needed a rebuild, when really, I just needed the Driver Mod ).

With everything seemingly ready to go, there's no more excuses for me delaying my introduction to some driving events. But, if I'm honest, I am intimidated for my first session. I'm not sure what to expect.

Taking any and all advice!

Thanks.
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1985 380SL
Old 09-13-2017, 11:40 AM
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I wrote a quick 3 part series a whole ago that people seem to like.

Autocross Basics 1 - What is it?
Autocross Basics 2 - Surviving the first event
Autocross basics 3 - Driving

Depending on what club you run with things may be slightly different between them.

Meet people, talk to people, ask for ride alongs (if allowed). Have fun.
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Old 09-13-2017, 12:14 PM
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Don't worry about the upgrades, just walk the course as many times as possible and chat with other experienced autocross drivers for tips and advice.

No worries about shifting, 1st gear to go and you will stay in 2nd for the rest of the course.

Some clubs have a novice class and you can request to have an experienced autocross driver ride along with you. Other drivers way be willing to give you a ride in their cars once your session is over, this is sometimes as much fun as driving since I got a ride along in an Alfa 4C, Lotus Elise and Cayman GT4 during one event.

Don't worry about times yet, just get a feel on how your car performs during each session and slowly build up speed after each run. Also it is better to hit the cone than miss the gate.

Good luck !!
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82 911 SC Targa-Rosewood
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Old 09-13-2017, 12:15 PM
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Yes... the ONLY advice you need is to get there early and walk the course.
Or better yet... find out who putting the course together and ask to help them set it up... then you will have an advantage over everyone else in knowing how the course is set up.
If you help set the course up, you'll learn which corners might be too tight, or which cones will probably get hit the most...etc..

Then walk the course, and walk it again, and again, and again... until you have it completely memorized.

Also... contrary to what some tell you... WALK IT ALONE!!! DON'T TALK TO ANYONE WHILE WALKING it... just imagine you are driving your car... hold your hands up and steer... know your braking areas...

Everything else is easy.

Truth is.. there is ALWAYS someone at an autox event who will point out your mistakes.
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Old 09-13-2017, 12:23 PM
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If there are instructors on hand, make sure to get one.
Old 09-13-2017, 12:30 PM
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Where are you located? You could get more specific help if we knew where you are.

Join PCA and find where the locals autocross and do DEs.

Take a "performance driving school" or autocross class, most PCA regions offer one.

If you are in California, I can hook you up.
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Gordon
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Old 09-13-2017, 12:53 PM
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Wow--great info, guys. Thanks.

Gordon--I'm in Irvine. Happy to motor up to LA or SD for any events. Let me know if you have any recommendations the next coming months.
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1986 911
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Old 09-13-2017, 02:30 PM
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I think you are in the PCA Orange Coast region. They have regular autocrosses. Looks like they are held in Riverside now. PCA - Orange Coast Region Scroll down for all their AX events.

PCA San Diego region has an autocross every month at Qualcomm stadium. These are amazing events. I was an instructor there until I moved to Nor Cal a few years ago. Here is their next event. They have lots of great instructors. PCA-SDR Autocross (Qualcomm Stadium West Lot)Porsche Club of America San Diego Region

What you really should plan to do is participate in San Diego region's "Performance Driving School". Really it's everything you need to know about autocrossing with two days of practice with an instructor. Highly recommended. PCA-SDR PDS – Saturday and Sunday – Driving Exercises & Autocross (Qualcomm Stadium)Porsche Club of America San Diego Region
Sign up early for PDS as it always sells out.

You are in PCA heaven in SoCal, enjoy.
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Gordon
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'71 911 Coupe 3,0L outlawed
#56 PCA Redwood Region, GGR, NASA, Speed SF

Last edited by Trackrash; 09-13-2017 at 03:36 PM..
Old 09-13-2017, 03:33 PM
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you will very quickly learn the weak points of your car weather it be suspension or tires or driver. make sure you will be comfortable in the driver seat with your helmet and make sure your seat is going to hold your butt in place very important. Take your car to a lot and do some test turns make sure the tires arnt going to rub. Tire pressure is important you should bring a pump so you can experiment. Make sure you will pass tech. Its a steep learning curve the first time or two. Alot of people struggle learning the course iv never had a problem with that just keeping the car between the cones sometimes lol
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Old 09-13-2017, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trackrash View Post
I think you are in the PCA Orange Coast region. They have regular autocrosses. Looks like they are held in Riverside now.

You are in PCA heaven in SoCal, enjoy.
OCR PCA autocross will be having their first event at Anaheim stadium in Dec.
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Old 09-13-2017, 05:00 PM
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Signing up for PCA-SDR PDS event in late October. I can't think of a better way to break the ice than with two days of Porsche-specific instruction.
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Old 09-13-2017, 05:22 PM
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First event?

DO:

Go with a safe car, 1/2 tank of gas, and a willingness to listen.

Be sure to get an instructor.

DON'T
Worry about times.

BE READY TO HAVE FUN
Autocross is 85% Driver and 15% car. At my first one, a guy in a clapped out Yugo smoked me and finished in the top 10.
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Old 09-13-2017, 06:24 PM
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Flush and bleed your brakes first, check pedal cluster bushings and make sure pedals won't stick, especially the go one (from experience). Add those upgrades over time, you'll quickly learn the car in stock form can do more than most drivers can. Enjoy the slippery slope! Be safe, be patient, it's a lot of fun!
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Old 09-13-2017, 06:47 PM
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Signed up for the PCA Performance Driving School in San Diego. Let me know if any other pelicans are going to be there.


I'm pretty stoked and am looking forward to the weekend. I have some questions about gearing though:

1. Aside from the start, are you in 2nd gear for the entire track?
2. Are there instances where (like after slowing down for a tight turn), a driver may want to downshift into 1st during AX?

I ask because my 915 gearbox does not like going into 1st at any speed faster than 5mph, and even then, it takes some friendly persuasion.

How do other drivers address this? I'm watching some AX videos online, and it seems like, depending on the course, there are situations where you'd want to downshift into first and quickly dig yourself out of a tight turn-around.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-04-2017, 06:26 PM
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Unless the course is out of the ordinary you should not have to downshift into 1st. Even if you think you can or should you can decide to not do it and stay in second. Your car has good torque at low rpm. Some courses have some small sections where 3rd can be used for e.g. 2 seconds but you can hang on the rev. limiter or just under it. If a scaled course map is mailed out you could post it here and we can take a look. The person laying out the course should be sensitive to the issue you bring up. Another thing to look out for is a start where leaning on (smoking) the clutch is needed to get the lowest time, an experienced course designer can avoid this as well. In the case the course may cause you to damage your car, just don't go there, drive as you think is prudent.
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Old 10-04-2017, 06:53 PM
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Iíve run about 15 AX and never had to down shift to 1st (also using a 915). Usually I pin it at the start and get into 2nd ASAP and then watch tach to not over rev. Staying in 2nd entire run. Also in a competitive AX event the time to down shift to 1st could be more costly than a possible advantage of that gear coming out of a tight turn.
Anyway thatís my experience. Good luck and enjoy!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Old 10-04-2017, 07:02 PM
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I have never downshifted into first gear. There have been times where there were IMO overly tight turns in a course. I'm not sure why some will lay out a course with really tight turns, but you will learn to deal with it.

The last autocross I attended last month had such a turn. The trick, it turned out, was to properly set up the car entering it. By the time I was at the apex I floored it. I was not in the power band, but I still had enough power to accelerate out of the turn. Some guys did downshift to first, but what they lost doing two shifts did not make up for the extra power.

When I was helping set up the courses in San Diego we never had really slow turns. In fact you would be in THIRD gear on much of the track. But that is entirely a different story.

At your first autocrosses get as many rides as you can with other drivers who are quick and have rear engine cars. Pay attention to what the fastest drivers do. What line do they take? Where are they faster than you on the track. Don't be afraid of hitting cones or spinning out. If you don't hit a cone or two, you aren't trying hard enough.
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'71 911 Coupe 3,0L outlawed
#56 PCA Redwood Region, GGR, NASA, Speed SF

Last edited by Trackrash; 10-04-2017 at 07:21 PM..
Old 10-04-2017, 07:16 PM
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Most of PCA LPR and PCA GGR courses can be done in 2nd on a 911. There was one time this instructor went into 1st but he said either one would've worked. He was just trying out if there was any difference. But for most folks, 2nd is fine. There was one course where I felt the need to go to 3rd, but only for another second, so it wasn't worth it. I did hit the rev limiter once or twice. 914s where needing to shift.
Old 10-04-2017, 07:46 PM
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This book is a good read.
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Gordon
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'71 911 Coupe 3,0L outlawed
#56 PCA Redwood Region, GGR, NASA, Speed SF
Old 10-04-2017, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgar88 View Post
Signed up for the PCA Performance Driving School in San Diego. Let me know if any other pelicans are going to be there.


I'm pretty stoked and am looking forward to the weekend. I have some questions about gearing though:

1. Aside from the start, are you in 2nd gear for the entire track?
2. Are there instances where (like after slowing down for a tight turn), a driver may want to downshift into 1st during AX?

I ask because my 915 gearbox does not like going into 1st at any speed faster than 5mph, and even then, it takes some friendly persuasion.

How do other drivers address this? I'm watching some AX videos online, and it seems like, depending on the course, there are situations where you'd want to downshift into first and quickly dig yourself out of a tight turn-around.

Thoughts?
What are the performance driving schools who are providing drivers ed Las vegas Nevada?
Old 10-05-2017, 12:33 AM
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