In the words of Dave Despain, “There’s racing that you watch, and there’s racing that you do.” Most of us would love to lap an F1 car, compete on the Circuit De La Sarthe, or run 200 MPH at Talledega. Unfortunately, the barriers to entry for these kinds of competition make them “racing that you watch” – unless you’ve been hot-lapping race karts since you were old enough to walk, you’ll probably never get a shot at realizing those dreams.
Even grassroots competition can get breathtakingly expensive; ask anyone who’s prepared a car for Bonneville, or campaigned a Hobby Stock car for a season. Many who dream of driving competitively get a look at the price tag associated with living that dream and decide that roll-on races against kids in Hondas on the freeway is all they can afford, competition-wise. Or, perhaps the money is there, but family commitments mean that the danger involved in organized racing, small and carefully controlled as it may be, is irresponsible for them.
But dammit, our cars are made to be driven, and driven hard! One great way to do just that, without risking more than your ego and an occasional scuffed bumper (or door, if you’re really adventurous) from hitting a few cones, is by getting involved in autocross. As we can see in this video starring our good friends at LG Motorsports, autocross is also good for those with aspirations higher than “local hero” – the OPTIMA Challenge and SCCA Solo Nationals provide a chance to test yourself against the best, without having to get a sponsorship from Frito-Lay to afford it.
The best part about getting involved in autocross, though, is that learning how your car behaves at (and beyond) the limit will make you a far better and safer driver on the street.