New to Autocross?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Autocross?

As stated on SCCA.com:

Solo II is the SCCA brand name for autocross competition. Solo II events are driving skill contests that emphasize the driver’s ability and the car’s handling characteristics. This is accomplished by driving a course that is designated by traffic cones on a low hazard location, such as a parking lot or inactive airstrip. While speeds are no greater than those normally encountered in legal highway driving, the combination of concentration and car feedback creates an adrenaline pumping experience. It is like being in a movie chase scene, only you are holding onto the steering wheel instead of a box of popcorn!

What do I need to do to my car?

Make sure your car meet all the requirements of our Technical Inspection. In Tech your car will be checked for:

• Tires – no cords showing or other damage such as bulges, nails, etc.
• Wheel bearings, shocks, steering, and suspension in good operating condition.
• Seat belts in good operating condition.
• Brakes – firm pedal with no detectable drop with car not running and proper level of fluid in reservoir.
• All loose items removed (radar detectors, floor mats, etc.)
• Hubcaps and wheel rings removed.
• All lugs present and tight.
• Throttle return action safe and positive (no sticky throttles)
• No excessive fluid leaks.
• Battery securely bolted down.

Typically you will want to run more air pressure than you do on the street. Make sure your tires have between 40-45 psi in all tires. You can always adjust down from there if necessary.

What do I need to bring?

• Your car meeting all tech inspection criteria.
• Enough gas in your tank to complete the event.
• A completed and notarized minor waiver or both parents if under 18 years of age.
• A valid driver’s license.
• Money for your entry fee.
• A helmet meeting the requirements outlined in this document if available.

• Money for concessions.
• Sunscreen.

What kind of helmet do I need for autocross?

CENLA SCCA has loaner helmets that are available to competitors that do not have their own helmet. You will have to pick up the helmet just before each of your runs and return it immediately after each run. We do not have enough helmets for everyone to keep one during the entire event.

It is a good idea to buy your own helmet if you plan to run many events. For Solo II, SCCA and most autocrossing organizations require any helmet with a Snell M or SA sticker from the current, and two immediately preceding standards. In 2009, that would be Snell 2005, Snell 2000, or Snell 1995. The helmet can be full face, open face, or open with a chin guard. In 2010, when the new Snell rating is released, all helmets with a 1995 rating will become obsolete. If you are planning on getting a new helmet, get the latest Snell rating available if possible. This will allow you to use your helmet for a longer period of time before becoming obsolete.

M = Motorcycle. These are more commonly available and less expensive. Purported to be designed for one big hit. May have more padding on top, I don’t know. You can buy an open-face in the USA for as little as $75. Not required by governments as a standard.

SA = Special Applications. A different, ostensibly more severe, standard than M. The helmet is supposed to be rated for multiple impacts and also must have a fireproof liner. Rumor has it that many manufacturers’ helmets differ between M and SA only by having the fireproof liner, for which the price goes up at least $100. Since motorcyclists and snowmobilers are unlikely to purchase these things, they are made in smaller numbers, not as commonly available and much less likely to be seen in local shops at low prices.

The USA Department of Transportation has their own, less severe, standard called, not surprisingly, DOT. I think the standard is called Z.90.1.B. SCCA Solo II does not permit helmets with only the government standard Z.90.1.B. Snell tests for the effects of non-standard coatings like stickers and new paint on the helmet material, but the Z.91.B standard does not include these tests.

Pay special attention to fit. The helmet should not be so tight it brings on headache, but it should not rattle, either. Put it on and shake your head. Your skin should travel with the helmet. The idea is that your head does not get a running start before hitting the padding.

What time should I arrive at the event site?

You need to get to the site in time to get registered and get your car through tech inspection. Neither of these takes very long, but give yourself plenty of time so you are not rushed. Registration is open from 8:00-9:00 AM.

We recommend that you get there in time to walk the course a couple times, in addition to going through tech and registration. You need to become familiar with the course before you try to drive it at speed.  We recommend that you arrive around 8:00 AM.

Do I need numbers on the side of my car?

The people running timing and scoring have to be able to identify your car quickly. This is why the class and number must be listed on your car. If you are a novice, we will have numbers and letters on hand that are made from paper, which can be taped to your car.

However, once you have run an event or two, you will be expected to have your own magnetic or static cling numbers.

The SCCA’s rules for the class/numbers are:

All cars must have car numbers and class letters on both sides. Car numbers will be a minimum of eight inches high and a minimum of 1-1/4 inch stroke. Class letters must be between 25% and 50% of the number size, no smaller than 3 inches high, and located adjacent to the numbers. All numbers and letters must be of the same single color and typeface, and in contrast to the background color. Contrast may also be obtained using a second color for a border of field, sized at least 25% of the number stroke. All letters and numbers must be on body panels, not on windows, and only one set of numbers may be visible while the car is running. For cars entered in a Ladies’ Class the letter “L” shall follow the class letters (Example: ASL).

The whole point behind the numbers is so that timing/scoring can quickly identify your car while it is on course and give you the correct time when you finish. We will not nitpick the rules on this as long as we can easily read your class and car number while your car is running on the course. When we can’t identify a car, it slows the whole event down because we have to stop cars from running while we figure it out. It is also to your advantage to have correct identification on your car, as it greatly reduces the chance that your times will be recorded incorrectly.

Magnetic numbers can be purchased at your local sign shop or online at:


How do I join the SCCA?

When you join the SCCA, you need to select a particular region to join. Our region is the Central Louisiana (CENLA-SCCA). National dues are $65 + regional dues ($15) for a total of $85 per year. There are options to add your spouse or family for a few dollars more.

You can join at the event; just ask someone at registration for a membership form or you can get the membership form and additional information at:


What class is my car in?

The following web site has the official SCCA rules:


For a beginner it can be a little daunting, but try to find your class.  Keep in mind for the remainder of 2009 CENLA will be forcing all cars on R-compound tires to run a separate class.  Confused yet? I thought so, just use the above link to find your letter class, show up and have some fun; a veteran will answer any questions you still have

Are there classes for ladies?

Absolutely! In fact, there are some ladies who even beat their husbands. This is also a good way to help your son or daughter learn the limits of the car, not to mention, a good way to stop them from doing it on the street.

What do I need to do before and during the event?

If you are under 18 years of age, you and your parent(s) must fill out the minor waiver. This can either be filled out before hand and notarized or filled out at the event in the presence of an event official. We will have copies at the events

The night before, make sure your car meets the technical inspection criteria listed earlier in this document.

Arrive at the event around 8:00am.

Registration will be inside the building. Registration is open between 8:00-9:00 AM. Get in line. The fee for non-members is $40 and $30 for members. Checks should be made out to CENLA SCCA. You will need a valid driver’s license and you will be asked for your class and car number. If you don’t know your class, someone will help you. Also, they will assign a car number to you.

Tech will open and begin inspecting cars (check the schedule page). Look for a line of cars with the hoods open. Get in line. Inform the Tech Inspector if you need numbers for your car. They will provide you with paper numbers that can be taped to the side of your car.

Once you get through tech inspection, go walk the course. Anyone will be happy to show you where the course starts and ends, and where it goes. If in doubt, ask or follow a crowd that looks like they know where they’re going. Walk the course until you feel comfortable that you know where it goes.

You will hear an announcement over the loud speaker for the Driver’s Meeting. Everyone at the event site must attend this whether they are participating in the event or not. Please be there on time (the announcer will give a 5 minute warning). We discuss safety issues and tell the driver’s what part of the day their class will be running. Pay attention to the work assignments. You are required to “work” the course once for each heat you drive in. Basically, you will be helping watch for “downed” cones, picking them up, and reporting them to timing/scoring. Don’t worry; you will be paired with an experienced autocrosser. Please note it is important that you know when you are supposed to work and that you get there on time. This makes the event run better and we will all get more runs.

At the end of the day, it is appreciated if you can hang around and help clean up (stack cones, collect trash, etc.). Afterwards, we award trophies to the top finishers in each class. After that, a bunch of us often go out and get dinner somewhere.

If you have any questions, please join our message board and ask! You can find a link to the forum on our web site.

Finally, don’t be dismayed at all of the details in this FAQ. Our main objective is to have fun! There are a lot of people at the events and on the message board who are more than willing to help you. Just ask! Once you’ve driven in an event, you will probably be hooked!