Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Road race, Auto X, or the Drag Strip

Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby celigts » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:32 pm

So for those who don't know the current condition of my car check out my build thread.

Joined my buddy in his miata and my other buddies integra and made me really wanna atleast try autoX once this year.

Would it be bad or too hard on the car being stock suspension, custom intake, 3" dp to 2.5" mandrel bent and welded exhaust and apexi n1 2.5-3" in-outlet, aluminum 56mm rad with 2 12" thin fans, enkei rims and neyogen nitto tires.

Wondering if it would be to hard on the car with it bein in its current condition. Bushings are ok. I've filled my rear diff mount with the construction pl poly 10x filler stuff. Do have a leaky manifold gasket but otherwise I believe that's the only leak. Compression is at 140 in cylinder 2 I think it was that number.

Got my uego and boost gauge. So just let me know what you guys think if it's a bad idea or should be fine for 3-5 1 min runs. That's the average track run time. Between 60-85sec is the group they run among everyone who goes. I haven't yet just wanna see what the community here would think
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby lumbercis » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:25 pm

There's no reason a well-maintained car should have any problem with autox. That said, you have an old car and pushing it in autox will quickly tell you where it needs maintenance. :P

From what I've read cooling is the biggest thing to check. Make sure your cooling system is in top-notch shape, you are running good brake fluid and power steering fluid and your braking system is working well.

Note about autox though... you'll only be able to do "fun runs" with the mods you have. Autox, like most organized motorsports, is based on classes with rules on modifications allowed. For purposes of learning to drive it would be best to start with a bone stock alltrac and then mod according to what class you'd like to compete in.

On a local level they'll take a look at the car and it's mods and just let you run with whatever group seems appropriate, although your times will be unofficial.

Have fun!

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Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby celigts » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:51 am

Well since I've owned it I have been keeping it up to date with maintenance and have cooling fans to be on at anytime I want. Guess the best thing I can do is try and hope for the best. Don't have power steering so don't need to worry about that.
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby UtahSleeper » Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:29 am

I would say give it a try......but take it easy the whole day. Dont try and beat anyone, just learn the ropes. Plus the stock suspension is not going to help, especially if its old.
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Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby celigts » Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:57 am

Oh no I know what you mean about the stock suspension lol. Mine are slowly slowly leaking and saving for some ksports.. Maybe tein. Maybe.

Was thinking kind of the same tho. We have our grids tho and do 3-4 cycles of it so was planning to keep the cooling fans on but turn the car off as it likes to overheat at idle for too long.

I could always try a few fun runs as well. Rather then be competitive bit where's the fun in that. Just won't push her hard for more then a run.
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby mike325ci » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:10 pm

first time out, don't worry about the car-- if it drives fine on the street/highway, then it's probably okay for the usual autocross day. autocross is about 90% driver and 10% car, so work on the driving first.

when you get good enough, you will probably come to the conclusion on your own that you might want just a car specifically for autocrossing (and most likely that car isn't going to be the alltrac, sorry...) if your budget and garage space and life circumstances allow for it.

go out there first and talk to a lot of the experienced people out there. have them ride with you (get an instructor/volunteer if there's one available)-- they will give you the best tips about your driving and also about car setup in general.

in general, the most important parts of the car for autocross is (in this order):
1. driver
2. driver
3. driver (okay, i'll stop... here we go):
4. alignment (a combo of personal preference and driving style and what's good for your car specifically): normally as much negative camber up front as you can get, as much positive camber as you can get, and then about 1/8 to 1/4" toe out front, and 0 to 1/8" toe out rear (some people like toe in-- i like my back twitchy-- remnant of me driving mid-engined cars like the MR2 and Exige).
5. tires -- best street tires you can get for now (when you do enough, you know the fastest guys run on r-compounds, but $$).
6. suspension: shocks first -- best bang for the buck are koni sport (aka "yellow")
7. springs next
8. sway bars
9. brakes (just rebuild/refresh stock brakes, get new rotors, maybe upgrade pads. no need for $$$BBK for autox).
10. other stuff (LSD helps. power mods help but as you can see not as important as you think, it's at the bottom of this list-- start with downpipe/exhaust, turn up boost (manual or electronic boost controller)-- however this will most likely bump you into some class where you compete with really fast cars (modified Evos and STi's to start, i'm sure...)).

enjoy, if you are frustrated, get some help don't quit. unless you really try it a few times and determine it's not for you. i never really planned to autocross my ST185, but since it's my only car now and once in a while i get the itch to race so i just bring what i got. that being said, my car is set up for autocross because that's the way i like my cars to handle and drive. i've been autocrossing for 13+ years now, my favorite car was my MR2 and my Exige, but my alltrac the way i have it set up isn't that bad. it's just a delicate car that i'm afraid might fall apart if i abuse it too much lol.

(better to get out there and "do" it, but if you want to read a bit, here's some good sites):
http://farnorthracing.com/autocross_secrets.html -- a bit technical for some, but *very* good resource for car setup and debunking myths
a site that has links to other sites (very good): http://www.autox4u.com/novices/
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby celigts » Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:19 pm

Good points. Definitely a thread to keep I think for everyone to stumble on. Wish I still had her alive :(
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby Locker » Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:47 pm

The one issue I ran into with my car at Auto X was power steering. The 1st time I went out I boiled my fluid (who knows how old it was though) and also it was a little tough on wheel bearings.
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby celica_gtx » Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:15 pm

alot of focus on power steering when i did my runs i had NO PS...
only time i had problems is when i was trying to parallel park..

play with tire prs. i had 17rim on 205s and they rolled pretty good pretty close to the rim.
stock cooling system, MBC, full 2.5 exhaust, other than that it was stock.

just go out and have fun. hop in other cars if people dont mind usually the guys are cool about it.

its funn to watch miatas beat Vetts n vipers on the track..

also depends in stretch.

just look ahead
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby MWP » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:38 am

celigts wrote:... saving for some ksports.. Maybe tein. Maybe.


For performance driving, stay away from Japanese and Asian made shocks.
American and European shocks are the best.

As said, Koni Yellow's are the best of the cheaper shocks you can buy.
Gong more expensive than those you are looking at Koni Racing, Bilsteins, Ohlins, Penske, etc.

Anyone that says their BC's, Tein or similar shocks are great don't know what they are talking about.
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby Mafix » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:41 am

MWP wrote:
celigts wrote:... saving for some ksports.. Maybe tein. Maybe.


For performance driving, stay away from Japanese and Asian made shocks.
American and European shocks are the best.

As said, Koni Yellow's are the best of the cheaper shocks you can buy.
Gong more expensive than those you are looking at Koni Racing, Bilsteins, Ohlins, Penske, etc.

Anyone that says their BC's, Tein or similar shocks are great don't know what they are talking about.

so much wrong with this. while the bulk of this can be true it is NOT a factual statement at all.
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby underscore » Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:56 pm

MWP wrote:For performance driving, stay away from Japanese and Asian made shocks.
American and European shocks are the best.


I'm sorry, but preferring something or discounting something else based on country of origin is the silliest thing you can do.
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby lumbercis » Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:54 pm

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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby underscore » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:15 pm

According to one guys opinion, yes. He doesn't bother proving that any of the other brands are bad, or even how much worse than the brands he prefers may be. Then he admits that he used to hate one brand because they wouldn't let him rebuild their shocks, I wonder if something similar had any effect on his views of other brands?

In my experience, people who discount or praise something based solely on the country of origin generally don't actually know what they are talking about. And someone just starting out in motorsports isn't going to get a lick of difference between running decent shocks or top of the line ones. Especially if they end up not liking racing and just drive the car on the street afterwards. And unless you get something exceptionally bad, any off the shelf solution is going to be better than extremely worn if not completely blown stock shocks. If someone is using skis from the 1980's it won't matter if I lend them my cheap beater skis or my very expensive ones, it's going to be a big improvement in equipment and it won't matter which ones they use because they won't have anywhere near the skill or experience (or even requirements) to make the full use of them.
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Re: Interested and eager to do autoX. LF info

Postby mike325ci » Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:08 pm

Having, maybe not as strong of an opinion as some, I also believe in better quality that does the job than something fancy looking that doesn't do it properly. As you may or may not know, I always run Koni Yellows on almost all my autocross/track cars (my Lotus had factory adjustable Bilstein coilovers). I also prefer not to go with the no-name cheap coilovers because they are usually set too stiff/harsh for everyday use and I've seen and heard stories of them just breaking easily even in street conditions (I believe the F2? Coilovers for the MR2 had this issue... MR2s are relatively light cars too!). A properly tuned shock shouldn't kill your back on the street and be responsive on the track. Of course a race-only shock/spring setup is not really street-driveable, and that's why one size does not fit all and for professionals where every tenth of a second counts, they get their shocks valved and built just the way they need it and for the type of racing they do.

On the other hand, amateur/weekend racers like us, and DEFINITELY the OP who is just starting out you don't need to drop $3000-5000 on coilovers. You are better spending that money on driving instruction (quality schools such as Evolution School (autocross only) or even Skip Barber and the like (for road track)), as that will improve your time more than any equipment you put in your car. The ski analogy is great: A beginner on a pro ski isn't going to be that much faster or better carving than being on a cheaper equipment. When you get better, you can outgrow your equipment. Same here, when your driving skills improve, you will find that you might get close to your car's limits and then need some changing of equipment or a just a better car...

One of the biggest personal "ah-ha" moment for me was autocross/track driving my Exige. This is a factory-tuned streetable weekend track car. And Lotus is one of the top handling engineering/consulting firm in the world, and most people can't say that they don't know their stuff... And so here is a car they made that is exactly what it it's supposed to be. It is very livable day-to-day and downright comfortable to drive (I've done multiple 8-10 hour trips to the track with it and it's uber comfortable albeit a little loud inside). Yet at the track, it handles beautifully and telepathically. The car actually dives and leans a lot, which feels a bit unsettling and takes a bit getting used to, but it's actually better in a way, because you know what the car is doing and you can feel the change in dynamics and weight transfer so it's very easy to control and drive (for a mid-engined lightweight car). If you see any photos of a stock Elise/Exige at autocross/track, you will see that the car actually shifts weight very noticeably. You might think, oh that car needs stiffer springs and shocks. But no, it doesn't. Any more stiffer and the car will be just uncontrollable and bounce around and the smallest bumps will upset the balance, making your overall times slower. You look at the tires and the fronts are actually quite skinny: 195/50/16 is the stock size. 195 is pretty skinny, but it works for the car. Of course people just go wider, because they want the widest tire they can stuff there, but that changes everything about the car and takes real tuning to bring the stock balance back into the car. Most amateurs don't have the resources or know-how to do that correctly. You versus Lotus that pours millions of dollars (pounds) into research... Anyways, that's one example and it really opened up my eyes, like I said...

But for most people here, anything is better than worn out / blown stock shocks and springs, yes. And our cars are 20+ years old now. So it will be an improvement in that way. But whether it really helps them be faster at the track, I am not sure. And I find it's at a great expense of daily ride quality. I've always found Koni Yellows on full soft is *very* comfortable and livable, and then dialed up towards stiff, very usable on track. And they are relatively cheap, so it's well-respected and loved amongst weekend racers for that reason.

(BTW, I destroyed one of my Koni Yellows in the rear of my ST185 (not sure whose fault, but retaining nut on top became loose and came off), which unfortunately is a discontinued model, and I'm actually paying more than I paid for it new to get it rebuilt/fixed. It's better money spent than dropping $1000 on a "cheap" coilover for a car that is mostly a street car with occasional autocross/track use... I'm quite adamant about that, and some people think I'm stupid for doing it or don't understand why...)
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