The primary attraction of autocross is that it is a relatively inexpensive way to meet teenage girls brought to the races by their pimply faced, baseball-hat-on-backwards, Honda CRX driving boyfriends. Many clubs use this aspect of the sport to try to attract new members by featuring condom giveaways for novice drivers.
Experienced practitioners of this obscure sport can be overheard to discuss the ritualistic practice of "Ape Latexing".
Often seen as an entry level motorsports racing event. However, the race is between drivers of street cars and a clock, and as anyone that has done this before knows, the clock always wins. Autocrossers are a strange breed, willing to pilot an open piped import car in a parking lot for 35 seconds of second gear heroisim, then spend two more hours standing in said parking lot to stand up cones knocked over by other crazed car geeks. Afterwards they can be seen gathered together to collect various items such as cups, can coolers and widgets during the "trophy" presentation while they regale tales of that cone that almost got the..."dude, it was like RIGHT THERE....I almost got it...."
National Competition is fierce and hotly contested. One not only needs great skidpad skills, but the ability to read the SCCA rulebook and interpret ANY rule 3 different ways (in which at least 1 interpretation will result in disqualifying someone ahead of you during protest and moving the competitior from 30th to 29th for the event). Most importantly, one must show up to a National level event with the understanding that it is SRS BZNSS.
Cars and Classing
Classes and rules vary from sanctioning body to sanctioning body, but you typically get stuck in whatever class the event master says you are going to run in. This process allows his buddy in the Z06 to win each weekend against a gaggle of rusty MGBs.
Potentially the most popular class in Autocross is the "I" class, which is so named because anything goes as long as "I" get to win. An alternative approach (actually chosen by the SCCA) is the "6-year-old beauty contest" classing structure, in which everyone gets a trophy for something. Miata owners are common recipients of "Miss Congeniality" trophies.
There are usually classes for obsolete race cars left over from other series but most autocross cars are based on shitty production cars. (See H Stock below.) Except for the Corvette Z06. The Corvette Z06 was handcrafted by the almighty himself out of angel crap, and can never be beaten. Period. Having a really 'butch' name like "Butch," "Lance" or "Keith" is mandatory for Z06 drivers.
The SCCA 2007 SOLO champion was Chuck Norris driving a Yugo, narrowly beating out The Stig driving a Trabant.
In 2010, SCCA rules will no longer allow for any vehicle at any time at any event to be placed into 3rd gear and/or exceed 67.2 MPH. Violation of this rule will result in immediate exclusion from the event and public blacklisting on the SCCA.com forums.
Stock, in this case, means not stock at all. For example, use of $10,000 aftermarket shocks and $2,000 race tires is not only encouraged, but required to be competitive in stock class competition.
- Super Stock: The peniz extension class. Plenty of "compensation" going on with the size of their hoods... The only thing "big" about Super Stock drivers in general is the size of their grid, and in one case, the size of their glasses. If there was a way to race malteses on an autocross course, car counts would go down by one.
- A Stock: This class is for people who fear competition, but don't have the abilities or motivation to build a prepared or modified car. OPR affects Caymans by up to four seconds. Posting about it on the internet protest committee forum cures everything.
- B Stock: Formerly A Stock, this class proves that a car with V-TEK is faster than a car with a turbo. If you don't like nice things, the C4 is still a very competitive choice.
- C Stock: This is one of the more confusing of the stock classes and it just got 100% more full of BS... Nobody thats ever driven a Mazda RX-8 can possibly understand A) How a car with 14.77 lb-ft. of torque can be that much faster than the 350z, B) Why nobody can beat that Isley guy C) How they convince their tire guy to spend an entire workweek mounting those Kumhos and D) Why the SCCA would allow a class where two different Mazdas can win. That's just bad business. Also, if your car has ever been referred to as a "Girl's Car", this is where you belong.
- D Stock: Plenty of "competitive" cars to chose from but right now VTAK reigns supreme. How much tire can you fit on a 6" wide wheel? Be careful of protests if you tread the waters of National D Stock competition.
- E Stock: If you don't ever want to have to lift during a run, you'll fit right in here. You should probably move to Tennessee if you want to be "fast". Most E Stock cars, once deemed suitable for competition, can be found abandoned in a ditch for short periods of time. Cars in E Stock are so evenly matched that some competitors have been known to remove emblems to find that last .0001 of time on course. Course workers rarely call in penalties on these cars as they are distracted by the blood coming out of their ears. Most E-Stock cars spend their weekdays being used in Gay Pride parades (ie., the Mazda Miata).
- F Stock: This is a class where competitors who cannot drive well will try to get the faster cars moved out of the class so they might have a chance at a trophy. If it has a V8, rear wheel drive, and isn't a Corvette, it ends up here. This applies equally, even if the car in question is station wagon, a taxi cab, or a Silver SN95 Mustang GT sportin a Cowl Hood driven by a man named Jeff.
- G Stock: A great place to run if you hate 18" Hoosiers and feel compelled to destroy them in 18 runs or less.
- H Stock: The ultimate shitty car class. This class is dominated by Mini Coopers and Mazda 3's, but would be dominated by Saturns if they could keep them running for more than 25 seconds. The H is for human, since H Stock is the only class where walking the course takes less time than driving the course. Let's not even get started on H Stock "Ladies" -- this is the only stock class where OEM parts are not required. The SEB is currently considering the addition of Huffys and 21 speed competition bikes to this class. However, this initiative faces serious pressure from the powerful "Mazda 3 Mafia," who have no way of actually being competitive with a human powered vehicle. Slowly appearing on the scene are some Yugos, Vespas, electric wheel chairs, and powered bar stools. This is the only class slower than a Formula Jr. Kart. Watch out for a kid in his shopping cart Corolla from Australia. Putting a slow driver in an H Stock car is the closest you can get to literally freezing time.
- Cole Stock: See 'Internet Protest Committee Discussion Forum'. See also 'Frictionless Rollers'.
Street Prepared Classes
Street prepared classes are where you spend a whole lot of money on your car to make it marginally faster and less competitive than it was in stock class.
- A Street Prepared: If you Google search "Junior Johnson gets his ass kicked" you will generate zero results. It just doesn't happen. - Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Junior Johnson pajamas. - If, by some incredible space-time paradox, Junior Johnson would ever race himself, he'd win. Period. - Junior Johnson won Super Bowls VII and VIII singlehandedly before unexpectedly retiring to pursue a career in autocrossing. - Junior Johnson is the only person to ever win a staring contest against Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder at the same time. - Junior Johnson played golf against Tiger Woods and won by over 7 seconds. It was an even larger victory in PAX.
- B Street Prepared: A class specifically made for BMW, Corvette and 350Z owners who love to whine about how slow they are compared to a 4 cylinder Mitsubishi. Controversy in this class helps to deflect attention from what ever class that Strano guy is running.
- C Street Prepared: If you love gay cars, and want to go faster than an 850hp Vette on a super-tight course.
- D Street Prepared: BMW's have dominated for a while, but the Hype is that a new chassis may usurp the DSP throne. Apparently, VTAK and burning oil is a good substitute for torque!
- E Street Prepared: See C prepared minus 300HP and slightly more reliable. If trying to over compensate for a small penis this class is for you. If you hate "rally cars", this class is for you as well, even though they will probably beat you...or break lots of gears trying. Don't let HS drivers drive your car. Unless you like fences.
- F Street Prepared: The phrase "You can't polish a turd" comes to mind, but apparently you can make a turd a whole lot lighter!
- X Prepared: Pirate ships tend to dominate this class. A few non-pirates have attempted to run in the class, but they all end up dead before they even get to grid. It was recently proven that having a NASCAR drivers name does not help you at all in X Prepared no matter how much you "like to win".
- B Prepared: This stands for "Be Prepared... to move to X Prepared" since this class no longer exists.
- C Prepared: This is a special class just for NASCAR fans. The owners build 700hp fire breathing race cars on slicks in order to still lose to 110hp Hondas on street tires in raw time. On average, C Prepared will hit more cones in one event than every other class combined. Even though you need some big gonads to drive one, C Prepared is the only class to date that is gay enough to have a Parade at Nationals. They love rainbows. Gallons of Margaritas are consumed by this group of rowdies during nationals week with the blenders often having more power than Ver Mulm's Camaro. Anyone who possesses a V8-powered vehicle with a live rear axle and has access to a Sawzall has all the necessary ingredients for a C Prepared car.
- D Prepared: The driver tends to understeer and plow over cones right near the finish line, but there are always at least 7 excuses/complaints. Also, don't bother, he is just going to lose to a red Camaro. Nonetheless, the competition in this class is so fierce that only 4 men could muster the courage to bring their car to Nationals a few seasons ago.
- E Prepared: Hondas without any significant interior, exhaust, or paint will end up here. Also known as 'E Primer' due to the lack of properly painted body panels.
- F Prepared: Something something Porsche something something. Some guy with an old Datsun does well, when he competes once per decade. When asked to name an F Prepared competitor, most autocrossers will give a blank stare, before finally replying "hey, didn't that stripper run in that class once?"
- G Prepared: Who cares? I think they are still on their 3rd runs from 2007 Nationals... 85% of the G Prepared cars never actually make it all the way to the course before breaking. Fortunately, this class is cheaper than Street Touring and absolutely no tire testing or setup changes are required to field a competitive GP car. If your SCCA membership number is under two digits long, you probably belong in this class. But be aware that making fun of the reliability of GP cars has been known to result in multiple catastrophic driveline failures and "O'Gormans" by drivers of newer cars. Karma is indeed a bitch. If you don't autocross in GP, Scott Giles thinks you're a bitch. It makes more sense than ITB.
Street Touring Classes
The most unusual and magical classes are the Street Touring classes. This is the set of classes that has the most Internet Protests of all the SCCA classes and has the most convoluted of the Internet Protest Committees. But more importantly, it is here that Hondas defy the laws of physics. No one knows exactly how they do it, just that it happens. The SEB banned black magic from ST in early 2006, but the protests are usually not upheld since SCCA's impound chiefs are not generally very good with the black arts. Sometimes the black magic does unexpected things like making the Honda spin into an electrical box, making the engine explode or even making all of the undercoating fall off. Most ST Hondas using the black magic to it's fullest extent generally weigh between 36 and 42 lbs giving them a huge (and unfair) advantage over the rest of the field. But this isn't considered cheating because they do not have turbos*. Their power to weight is almost that of a top fuel dragster and they have been said to lap the Nurburgring in under 6 minutes. If he were to drive an ST car, the earth's magnetic fields would reverse, sending migrating birds the wrong direction in winter. All we know is, he's called The Stig.
- NOTE: According to the Internet Protest Committee Discussion Boards (aka SCCAforums), all turbo equipped vehicles are cheating as are 89 Civics due to running a cheater tire size.
- ST: The class is also known as Spec 89 Civic Si. A wannabe drifter known as j-rho took a Nissan 240SX to the top in 2006 before signing up for a role in The Fast and the Furious 4. Rule changes for 2009 will allow ST cars to be fueled by Don Julio Tequila in addition to the drivers. It is also otherwise known as the Andy Hollis I class and home of a oft broken Humpty Dumpty. Due to the slowness of ST cars, competitors in the class may severely misjudge the walking distance back to their hotels. Doing anything stupid while competing in this class is affectionately known as "doing an O'Gorman." This is the only autocross class where the shocks cost more than the car.
- STS: There are rumors the class will be renamed to STR - Street Touring Rust. While drivers are provided a tetanus shot prior to a run, the greatest risk of injury is likely from broken glass. Sometimes it is known as the Andy Hollis II class. Much like ST, this class is dominated by twenty-five year old Hondas mostly comprised of rust. It is estimated that by 2025, the average CRX will weigh eleven pounds.
- STX: Stands for Street Touring Xtra Civic drivers. WRX and BMW drivers spend tons of money on their cars to get beat by guys who broke their own cars and have friends that own ST Spec 89 Civics. As of 2010, this class has been renamed Andy Hollis III.
- STU: The idea is to take a really nice expensive street car, make it uncomfortable and barely streetable, then not let it run DOT R's, so it'll go slower than the stock version of the same car. Motons are rumored to be worth 6 seconds in this class.
- STUL: This class has been outlawed due to having the most potential for embarrassing class letter re-arrangement.
- STFU: RTFM
- STR: Jeez, as if there weren't enough classes for a Miata to run in. Shirts are optional for STR drivers. This is the class where you can take a stock S2000, Miata or Solstice, and spend thousands of dollars on modifications only to end up with a car slower than stock.
- STF: Take mom's grocery getter, blow thousands of dollars on suspension to make it unsuitable to get said groceries, and then go slower than H stock. Cars are required to make less than 15 lb-ft of torque and have a center of gravity higher than the empire state building. Their PAX rivals that of junior karts, only it is even more painful to watch. Otherwise known as the Andy Hollis IV class.
All the ST* classes benefit from the mythical PAX, which is basically a large mathematical formula that allows ST* drivers to presume their cars to be faster than the "real cars". This PAX--otherwise known as mental masturbation--is the holy grail of autocross, the only goal is not to go faster than the other guy, but to have the mathematical formula tell everybody that your time was "better" than the other guys even though your car was slower overall.
One of the prevailing metaphysical conundrums of the ST classes is "If O'Gorman pulls an O'Gorman is it still an O'Gorman?" The answer is apparently closely guarded by a stripper named Lee.
- A Modified: It's like sex, but with more downforce and less children. And sharks.
- B Modified: See 'C Modified', but with wings! Also stands for "Bring Money."
- C Modified: Learn to autocross, roadracer! Spend 60% of the initial price of your car modifying the handling to get rid of push. Then you can go slightly slower than an F125.
- D Modified: These small car enthusiasts built their cars before they looked at the rulebook. Luckily, the people that built these cars on purpose are really old and sometimes forget to go to events, so everyone has a chance.
- E Modified: These large car enthusiasts built their cars after they looked at the rulebook and, in a rare moment of sanity, threw it away. If your car looks like a theft recovery that was pulled out of a lake, this class is for you. That is unless you're Jeff Kiesel and you own a bug eye Sprite.
- F Modified: This is the worst of all the classes. The cars are horrifically loud and most people have a deep hatred for them and their drivers. Ever wonder what it sounds like when Satan cuts his grass? Most of these cars are hand built by Satan and his minions and are the sole cause of suicide, AIDS and the Avian Flu. Most of the people who run these cars are crotchety old men who only compete on glass smooth lots and when the temperature is 70 degrees out. They also break, a lot, and by a lot, I mean always.
Note that there is no ladies class for F Modified. FML just stands for what everyone is thinking when one of these "vehicles" drives by.
Street Modified Classes
- Street Modified: Aliens reign supreme in this class. This causes overpriced BMW's to go for sale. The class will exist until someone chooses to dominate in an RCM - "Ramey Crap Mobile." This is a mythical car with no mass, infinite tires, and negative dimensions that will complete any autocross run in less than 1 second.
- Super Street Modified: Buttsecks! The only class where the size of your trophy is directly proportionate to how many engine rotors are crammed into your 3rd Gen RX7.
- Street Modified FWD: What is the opposite of Buttsecks?
- F125: It's just like A Modified, but without the additional downforce and even less children, and with FTD."Karts are for kids" is the commonly uttered phrase when these take to the course. In regards to the guy that goes and trades in his Z06 for an F125, it's akin to trading your RPG for a slingshot and then winning a war.
- Formula Junior A, Formula Junior B and Formula Junior C: All 3 classes are named after Junior Johnson. They are similar to A Modified, but with less downforce and MORE children (GIBL & BIBL). Formula Junior exists mainly for the purpose of making autocross days longer. Anyone who thinks about an Internal Combustion Engine while Junior Karts are running is subject to immediate execution by dismemberment.
Junior carts have the unique distinction of being the only vehicle in autocross less reliable than G prepared.
The parents of the drivers all cheat, but just a little bit. This is okay and is actually a requirement if you want to win since everyone else is cheating too.
Many local regions create 'special' classes to cater to certain participants. These classes have no basis in reality, and exist only to further confuse and befuddle.
- Pro: Many local regions run a 'pro' class. Participants consist mostly of (1) drivers really good at navigating parking lots; or (2) mediocre drivers who believe that an extra letter makes them a better driver. These classes are run exclusively on the arcane and mysterious 'pax' system (see Street Tire classes above), due to the fact that the participants are incapable of deciphering raw times.
- Ladies: This is a special class designed to promote attendance by female drivers, playing to the old stereotype of "women drivers, no survivors." However, this class is usually dominated by transsexuals, cross dressers, and other shifty types. See also, 'Chude.'
- Novice: Another popular local class is the novice class. This is another 'pax' class despite the fact that none of the competitors know that pax exists, much less understand how it works. To make things even more exciting, the pax factors are randomly chosen. E46 M3 on Hoosiers? I think the rulebook puts me in STS. Yeah, that guy with the 318i is running STS and he's been running for years. I'm sure we'd be in the same class.
- Street Tire Class: This is different than the rollicking ST* classes. Street Tire is for those who are too lazy to change tires that day for the event, too cheap to run their R-Compounds at the local site (trash, rocks...), corded their R's setting FTD at (insert name) event or they are saving them for a National Tour and/or Divisional. These people harken back to the origin of autocross; drivers who are running the event to keep from mowing the lawn. They have patented excuses why they were slower today and they can regale you with story after story of past glories. Probably the most fun at an event is to hang with these guys/gals.
- Street Modified Street Tire: If you have ever declared that you are "faster than Corey Ridgick" or "own one of the top 3 Street Mod cars in the country," but were out-rawed by H Stock by over two seconds at Nationals in said car, this would probably be a good fit for you. This class is composed mostly of people who modified their cars before being introduced to autocross and realizing that the largest performance improvement is the tires.