Some Qualifying Background (& Pix)

So you say, “Who is this guy?

That’s a fair question…
My name is Dan Scanlon & I live in San Antonio, Texas – USA.

Me!

What are my racing credentials?

I’ve been interested in racing & going fast since I can remember.  I even said so in an answer to a question in a job interview over 20 years ago.  It was, “What do you see yourself doing (as a goal) in the future?”  Straight-faced I said, “I’d like to be an Indy Car racer!”  He rolled his eyes, but eventually I got the job.

But seriously, I “campaigned” a circa 1982 Nissan Sentra 4-door in autocross back in the early 1990’s.  It was fun, but that poor car couldn’t take the abuse and later I only autocrossed my new (at the time) 1993 Honda Civic Coupe once.

My old 1993 Honda Civic Coupe

I’m up for getting back into this.  But my current daily driver, a 2000 Nissan Maxima SE 5-speed, is not doing very well.

Not exactly autocross material...

This morning I went about an hour SSE of SA (San Antonio) to Pearsall, TX.  Here, at a remote Cooper Tire test facility, the Austin SCCA group was co-hosting a Divisional Solo II (that’s SCCA talk for autocross).

What’s an autocross?  I’m glad you asked.  An autocross is event in which the driver “races” through a course set up on an expanse of pavement (like a big parking lot).  The driver is not racing directly against other cars, but competing against the clock.  Runs are typically in the 60 second range.  The cars are divided into specific classifications, and you compete within your class of car (which are similar to yours).  You can look at more details at an SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Forum.  For further clarification, here’s a video of an autocross run.

Autocross is not the be all & end all of amateur auto racing, but its easy cheap & simple – its a good place to start.  It will help you to decide if you want to pursue this further.  Find a local club and make the following modifications to your daily driver:

  • Increase your tire pressure to close to the max rating on the sidewall
  • Get rid of all the clutter inside your car, including floor mats
  • Remove your spare tire & anything else populating your trunk
  • Fold in your side mirrors (this keeps the distractions down)
  • Borrow a helmet (most clubs have free loaners available)

That’s about it.  The only cost is registration (averages $25), some bottled water on ice in a cooler, some snacks & sunscreen.  I’d recommend visiting and watching an autocross to see if it peaks your interest.  I know it did for me about 15 years ago & the bug has bit me again today!

Here are some pix (pictures) from this morning’s event – just a few to whet your interest:

The Cooper Tires Test Tire & Vehicle Test Center entrance.

Cooper Tires sign

A gathering of the variety of vehicles you can see at an autocross – no first-timers today!

Ready to roll!

A luscious example of a non-typical (not boxy) Volvo, an 1800 model.

Vintage Volvo

Some beautiful models to drool over – they both sounded good, too!

Sweet metal & rubber!

A very recent model Mazda MX-5 (Miata), not exactly stock.

Very well prepared Mazda MX-5

A fun to drive Dodge SRT-4 (not a Neon!).

A well sorted entry!

An overview…

Competitor field overview pan

And another from a distance…

Overview from a distanceOverview from a distance

…and the T-shirt!

Event T-shirt

That’s all for tonight!

Next time, more about some of the auto racing sanctioning organizations that will give you additional information…and inspiration.

Laters,
Dan

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