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First Year

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Old 02-28-2014, 04:30 PM
mkochjr
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First Year

I just registered for a SCCA membership and plan to run for my first time this year.

A lot of the FAQs on this site are fairly old so I'm going to throw some questions out there:

I have an AEM Intake which automatically throws me into STX, correct?
I have no other mods so I probably won't be very competitive in this class. Should I pull off the intake on autocross weekends?

What other vehicles do you guys usually see? I'll be running the MidWest region in Joliet, IL.

I am running the stock 17's on the heavy loud runflats. How suck are they? Any good 16 or 17 inch wheel & tire combos in a decent price range?

Run with DSC or without?

Any tips and pointers?

Should I sign up for their "Learning Curve" class weekend that takes place in April?

Thanks for the help guys.
 

Last edited by mkochjr; 02-28-2014 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:24 PM
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Welcome to the madness. I've been doing this for only 18 months so far.

If it were me I'd just put the MINI back to stock and run in D Street instead. You get a much better PAX in DS, you'll be outgunned in STX, you'll probably be on a relatively level field in DS. I assume you'll compete in a novice class, that will give you competition which is reasonable. If you run against seasoned regulars expect to be heavily spanked.

In any case, expect to be totally lost and come last in your first event, don't worry about it too much, you'll get used to it after a few events. Eventually you should start to beat someone. At my first event I was not actually last by some miracle, but I was 18 seconds off the pace. After 18 months I'm getting into the to 20% of the results and I'm only 3 seconds or so behind now.

If it were me, I'd be getting some decent competition wheels and tires. Apart from anything else, they'll keep your street tires round. I just got some Enkei RPF1 and Dunlop ZII tires in 225/45-16 from TireRack, they'd make a pretty good start.

Definitely run without DSC. When we tried the JCW out at an autocross, I tried putting it in DTC mode (not DSC mode) for one run, on the theory that I was just getting wheelspin, and with DTC I could just keep my foot down and the system would cut the wheelspin. I went faster with DTC. Then I turned it off and went event faster.

There is lots of advice out there and I made a deliberate decision to not read any of it for my first event. I just wanted to go and experience it. There's so much going on, you head doesn't really have space for any more advice. Just aim to finish the course, even if its only at walking speed. (I've known people turn up, DNF 4 times and never be seen again. DNF = "Did Not Finish", took a wrong turning.)

Definitely sigh up for any class you can find. They accelerate your development greatly. You get much more repetition than you ever do running in an event, and you get to work on one thing at once, not a whole course. The only time I managed to beat my nemesis last year (the guy who won the novice class) it was just after I'd done an autocross school.
 
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Old 03-01-2014, 11:09 AM
mkochjr
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Thanks for the info. I really appreciate it.

I think I'll wait on the wheels and tires for now as I can't justify the price on them to the misses. Anyone ever ran on the stockers? How bad was it?

I can't put my stock intake back on because the turbo inlet pipe got hard and brittle at the turbo side and actually broke which is why I bought the AEM Intake as it replaced that pipe. I'm also missing the stock screws for the MAF where it mounts to the stock intake.

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about racing so hopefully I can apply all that. I used to drag race my old cars and had the fastest times compared to the people I would go to track days with so I have the shifting and getting moving part well figured. Everything else I've just learned from driving and from racing sims such as iRacing. It will be awesome to actually apply the knowledge into a real life situation and be able to compare and translate it back and forth.

It does really suck to be put in a higher class without much chance of actually competing. Although I don't expect to be a track blazer my first attempt I expect to atleast be in the ballpark. I've heard NASA has slightly less strict rules on the classes. Any experience?
 
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Old 03-01-2014, 12:02 PM
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I've always said that I'm not going to win any trophies. I run the GTI in STX and get destroyed by RX8 and WRX. Stock tires are fine starting out, you'll need to improve your lines and times. Once you're at the limit of your skill and tires, you can start buying parts. If you can replace your stock pieces, that would probably be the most competitive.
 
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:21 PM
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I haven't even run stock tires on the street since we got our 05, I've never autocrossed with them. When I have driven a MINI with performance tires, they haven't been too bad, they'd probably do alright to get you started. If you have all seasons, they'd probably be a disaster. Tires are the second biggest factor in performance, after the driver, so they're worth considering.

If you stick at this, I think it'd probably be worth investing in some OEM parts to replace the bits you've lost. If it wore out, you might be able to argue the bits are allowed under section 13 "Alternate components which are normally expendable and considered replacement parts". At your first event no one is probably looking too hard at the equipment, unless its totally obvious, or you start winning.

I had a background in track days before I started autocross, so I had the a good idea of the basics, it didn't really help me at my first event, but it probably shortened my learning curve after that. The real skill in autocross is how to appreciate a course just by looking at it, then drive it fast first or second time. That's a skill no other form of motorsports prepares you for. Walking the course is really important, but I still say don't worry about it for the first event.

As for the misses, get her to drive as well, that can make life much easier. Instead of justifying things to her, she'll be wanting the best to help her out. Both me and the wife compete at this, she's beaten me twice. Once at the very first event and once when I had one of my best days ever, but she had an even better day.
 
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Old 03-03-2014, 11:07 AM
mkochjr
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Thanks for all the insight. It is really helpful to kind of give me an idea of what to expect. I've tried to talk to the misses about it but she never wants to hear it. She just won't get into it. I'll probably drag her out there to watch one time but I couldn't even get her to get onto the go kart track with me.

I assume you need a helmet or will they allow you to run without one? If you need one is there a specific brand anyone recommends for a specific reason? Any other safety equipment that wouldn't normally be owned by someone that may be needed?

I'm excited and hopeful. The signup for their Learning Curve class hasn't opened yet. It's letting the first 100 people sign up so hopefully I'll be able to get into that. They say its a full weekend thing about 8 hours a day with a half day in the classroom then the rest on the track.
 
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:48 PM
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You definitely need a helmet. The helmet must be Snell rated (or some equivalent foreign standards), not just DOT rated (section 4.3.1). There might be loaner helmets available, we do have some around here. (And someone had to go get one when we couldn't find the Snell sticker on his helmet at tech. He'd used it several times before and swore there used to be a sticker.) We got ours from Helmet City, and just looked for the cheapest which were open faced and SA2005. (These days go for an SA2010.)

The only other safety equipment you need is a working seatbelt (which is another item checked at tech). When you get into it, its useful to have something better than just the seatbelt to restrain youself. A CG-Lock, or a clip in harness is useful. I just fitted a harness and it helps a lot. (Sections 3.3.1, 4.3.2)

I've been mentioning tech, there's a rudimentary inspection to make sure the car is safe to run. As long as your MINI is in good order you should pass with no problem. You do need to make sure you've taken out any loose objects from the car. If it can't "be held permanently in place with factory installed fasteners" (13.2K), you should take it out. Here's my cheat sheet of items which are inspected:

Class Letters
Numbers
Seatbelts
Wheelnuts
Tires
Shocks
Throttle return
loose items
Tires (no chord)
No Leaks
Brake pedal
Exhaust behind driver
Battery (securely tied down, shake it)
Helmet
 
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:25 AM
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So if I plan to use a GoPro to record they won't allow me to mount it inside the car as it would be considered a non factory loose item?

I'll start looking around at the costs of helmets and ask if my region offers any rentals.
 
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Old 03-04-2014, 06:51 PM
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Loaners are common, but may not be readily available depending on who needs them. A properly mounted Gopro is not a problem, just can't be loose.
 
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:47 PM
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Cameras are allowed (13.2B), but they have to be securely mounted (3.3.3B3). Handhelds are not allowed (3.3.3B1). GoPro suction mounts are fine, but make sure to clean the mounting surface first. I use them for outside, I made myself a seatback mount for the one inside.

 
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Old 03-05-2014, 06:53 AM
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not sure how i missed this thread - i'm assuming you're running with the chicago region scca. i'm with the st louis region, but i'll be autocrossing in chicago and rantoul, il quite a few times. i'd definitely say go to the learning curve event if you can. don't be afraid to talk to new people and ask for ride alongs. usually at every event they have like a novice walk through so def go on those. hardest thing will be "finding" the course.

i'll post in this thread if I'm planning to be at any of the Chicago scca events too.
 
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:57 AM
mkochjr
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Thanks for all the help guys. I appreciate it.

I'm waiting for the registration for that Learning Curve event to open up. Still just says coming soon.

My only concern is actually as someone stated which is seeing and driving the course. I feel like it will be hard to identify turns as there won't be grass, runoff, or rumble strips to show the actual course. I'm sure its a little different once inside the cones but looking from the outside it seems confusing.
 
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike Koch View Post
Thanks for all the help guys. I appreciate it.

I'm waiting for the registration for that Learning Curve event to open up. Still just says coming soon.

My only concern is actually as someone stated which is seeing and driving the course. I feel like it will be hard to identify turns as there won't be grass, runoff, or rumble strips to show the actual course. I'm sure its a little different once inside the cones but looking from the outside it seems confusing.
I don't know about Chicago region but St. Louis region usually lines the course in white (flour I think) which helps novices a lot.

Best advise as far as figuring out the course - get there early, walk it as many times as possible. Unfortunately, for most people it can still be hard to find after that. Just takes some seat time to get used to it. Do a lot of ride-alongs if possible so you can see the course/cones at speed. Make sure you understand what all the different cone setups mean. I won't be at the learning curve event but I'll probably be at the first points event. See you then!
 
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:23 PM
mkochjr
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If I sell my AEM and put a JCW Intake on will that meet D-Stock class rules?
 
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Koch View Post
If I sell my AEM and put a JCW Intake on will that meet D-Stock class rules?
whatever the stock intake was, yea. I'd do that if I were you frankly. Without tune and a bunch of other parts, I don't think it would be tooo beneficial anyway.

to answer some of the other questions i glossed over, chicago has all of its past year results archived on its website that are easy to access: for example, http://scca-chicago.com/wp-content/S...vent-3-fin.htm

you'll find though, the st-x/r/u classes are pretty packed in general, at least from what I've seen.

Put the DSC on full off.

More important than any of that stuff, get summer tires - either Rivals or Z2s are the safe bet it seems. Seriously. That will be the most important thing. Especially since you're on runflats right now.
 
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Old 03-06-2014, 11:17 AM
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Old 03-06-2014, 04:04 PM
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Good info in that thread.

I decided to go back to stock. I just paid for someones stock turbo intake tube. I just need to get new screws to be able to attach my MAF and I should be set.

I may be selling my AEM intake if you know anyone who might be interested. Less then 1000 miles on it.
 
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Old 03-06-2014, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by kyoo View Post
Put the DSC on full off.
I've noticed sometimes during the winter I would think I've turned it off and it still acts like its on. Do I have to hold it down to make sure its all the way off?
 
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Old 03-06-2014, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Koch View Post
Good info in that thread.

I decided to go back to stock. I just paid for someones stock turbo intake tube. I just need to get new screws to be able to attach my MAF and I should be set.

I may be selling my AEM intake if you know anyone who might be interested. Less then 1000 miles on it.
good idea. good for you for figuring out what class you're in before your first event. cant stress swapping out tires enough though.

Originally Posted by Mike Koch View Post
I've noticed sometimes during the winter I would think I've turned it off and it still acts like its on. Do I have to hold it down to make sure its all the way off?
3 second or so hold down, should get a warning on the dash
 
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:22 PM
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It has been a long time since I have done any autocrossing, but I have been doing track days. My advice for starting out is forget about tires, forget about competing against anyone else, and just compete against yourself. Set a baseline time on your first run and try consistently improve, and most of all have fun.

I hit the track with my stock Continental runflats and enjoy it immensely and learn a lot. Btwyx in his Justa sets a better time than I do in my MCS (must be the tires...) and I beat my friend in her JCW. But the point is that I get a bit better and faster every time, and I know I have a ways to go before the tires become the limit.

Then when you think you have reached the limit of what you can do with the stock tires (or you have worn them out) go get some new sticky rubber. This also helps minimize Spouse Approval Factor (SAF) problems. If my wife knew how much my first track day cost with the event fee, new brake pads, SS brake lines, brake fluid flush, helmet, etc. I'd be in trouble. I'm still trying to figure out how to make a set of lightweight wheels with track tires appear in the garage.
 
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Old 03-06-2014, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by squawSkiBum View Post
I'm still trying to figure out how to make a set of lightweight wheels with track tires appear in the garage.
Quote of the day. I had to sell a car to buy my last set of wheels.
 
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:50 AM
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That sounds like a good idea. Just wait until the stockers are wore out so tires are needed anyways then just say that the deal on these new tires was so good that they came with these free rims as well.
 
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Old 03-07-2014, 12:35 PM
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if you're gonna go that route, my only suggestion is don't get discouraged. also, if this is a daily, if you get decent tires for ax, you're gonna need a second set for normal driving without question.

tires are that one annoying expensive bit about ax that are really the only must to be competitive, but the cost has gone down since we've moved to street tires
 
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Old 03-07-2014, 12:54 PM
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I've always planned on getting better tires. I hate these noisy hard run flats. Since we don't have a spare I had already planned to keep the stockers and buy some rims with new tires anyways since I'm not planning on ever going back to run flats.

I'll probably keep my stockers and throw some winters or good allseasons on it then use the new rims and put on soe nice sticky tires for ax or just when I want to have fun.

I'm probably going to run around on the stockers just for now until I decide I want to go faster or I just don't have any tread left to keep them.
 
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Old 03-07-2014, 02:15 PM
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gotcha. anyway, hope to see you at the first event (4/13). I'll be sure to chat if I'm there.
 

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