Autocross is one of the easiest ways to get started in competitive driving. It’s a great choice for casual participants and beginner racers alike, offering low enough barriers to entry that many drivers are able to become quite competitive. Experts also love autocross because it allows them the chance to test out the latest modifications to their competition car and constantly level up on their driving technique.
When you participate in autocross, you get the chance to safely explore the capabilities of your vehicle while still enjoying fast-paced driving and the thrill of competition. Drivers get to build up driving skills and techniques, have fun, meet new people, and see what their car can do. Here’s what to know.
What Is Autocross?
Autocross is a competitive motorsport where you can compete with other drivers for the best time on a closed course. Events are usually held in large open parking lots, inactive airstrips and other large, flat, open spaces free of traffic, pedestrians, hills, potholes and other hazards.
At the event, organizers will design their own mini-road courses using rubber traffic cones, which are very forgiving if you happen to hit one. Of course, the goal is to try to avoid hitting any cones or going off the course if you can help it. Instead, drivers attempt to complete the whole course while staying within the designated boundaries and navigating the course obstacles.
Autocross ranges from typical street to highway speeds with the main emphasis placed on precise control of the car rather than the top speed. Drivers go through the course one at a time, trying to finish a few seconds faster than the other drivers without making any mistakes.
What Do I Need to Participate?
Beginner or pro, there’s not a lot that’s required to participate in an event. Basically, you will need to have a valid driver’s license, a vehicle in good working order, and an approved safety helmet.
Your Driver’s License – Even on a closed track, it’s important that you have a valid license to drive your car for autocross. You’ll show your license when you check in and then you’re good to go. For kart autocross events, you may be able to participate if you’re under 18 and have permission from your parents. Check with the specific event’s organizers for their rules.
Your Vehicle – Autocross doesn’t require an expensive, heavily modified vehicle with specific safety equipment to get started. Almost any vehicle in good working order can compete. The key requirements are a vehicle with no worn or loose suspension parts, a properly secured battery, no bald or damaged tires, good brakes, working seatbelts, and no major fluid leaks.
Your Safety Helmet – A helmet is the one piece of safety equipment typically required to drive an autocross course. Some events may have spares if you don’t have your own. Helmets have to meet certain motorsport safety standards. Typically, what you’ll need to obtain is a Snell “M” or “SA” rated helmet.
One other thing you’ll want to think about before your first event is insurance for your car. Even though autocross is very safe, there is a chance you could have an accident and most auto insurance policies limit coverage for course events.
If your policy has exclusions for your car on the course, don’t worry. We offer an AutoCross with Off-Track Insurance policy for just such occasions. This annual policy for both licensed and non-licensed vehicles provides coverage for a full season of autocross events, plus you can add annual coverage for all of your race-related parts, equipment and trailers. It’s a great way to protect your car from damage while you’re trying to beat your best time at your next event.