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Autocross Tips (extra long) (archive)

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Posted by Greg Hudson (Melbourne Australia) on September 28, 1998 at 17:50:46:

In Reply to: First Autocross (long) posted by Karl Seeger on September 28, 1998 at 09:47:30:

G'Day Karl.

Our car club here in Victoria regularly runs AX events, and I have managed a 'clean sweep' of the under 2 liter class in every event, and I'm usually in one of the top 3 'outright' positions. I collected so many trophies that the club decided to stop handing them out, because no-one else was getting any! (No, I'm not boasting - just telling the story...)

Right from the very first event I attended, the other members appeared to be aghast at a 'newbie' driver taking out the coveted trophy, and wanted to know what mods I had done to the car to make it perform so well... In reality, very little mods - most of the advantage was in my HEAD. (I'd never competed or been in any AX event before, so to them it was pure shock!)

I'm almost to the point... What I 'did' do in the past was race 'off road' remote control cars (on dirt tracks), and managed to get a 3rd place in one of the State Titles, so my 'remote contol' skills were pretty sharp (as were the reflexes). To get good times with a remote, I used to 'visualize' myself 'IN' the car, screaming around, then, visualize everything from the 'overhead' view you get when standing on the sidelines.

When it came to the BMW AX, what I did was take the 'remote overview' of the whole layout, and map it out in my head - then translate that to a drivers eye view, weaving thru the cones.

Next, I would WATCH where all the other drivers were going to reinforce the 'path' thru the cones in my head... When it comes time to drive it - I already 'know' where I'm going, so it's just a case of concentrate on gears, braking, handbrake turns etc.

What makes the remote control so useful though is the way you have to change your thinking... Imagine a car is zooming along from your right to your left. You want to turn right at the end. Easy, you just turn the steering wheel to the right... Correct? (Yep) HOWEVER, imagine when it's coming straight towards you and you want to turn to YOUR right, what do you do? You have to turn THE OPPOSITE WAY (to the LEFT) This is where you need to 'think' that you are in the car itself and steer accordingly. Eventually the brain starts to react as it should, and it all comes together...

My advice is to go get yourself a CHEAP remote control, set up a slalom (going away from you) and start practicing going out thru the cones (away from you) and coming back thru them (towards you). You'll be amazed how difficult it is at first. Once you get the hang of it, practice practice practice so it becomes a no brainer, then think about how to apply this to a real AX course. I'm sure you will be surprised at the results.

Good luck. Greg.

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