Solo is the SCCA brand name for autocross competition. Solo 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 is Solo Competition?
On any given weekend morning, all around the United States, the careful observer will see, within the early morning traffic of people going to work, families going to an early start on a day or a week end trip, and a few laggard, hard-core party animal finally heading home, a subtle pattern. Part of this traffic is all going to the same place. The cars are sports cars, or sporty sedans. Their tires look a little wider than normal. Some of the cars look like they have been modified for performance. Some of them display stickers that say SCCA or Sunbeam Tigers Owners Club or such. A few cars no longer suitable for driving on the street, are being towed on a flat trailers behind vans, pick-ups, or motorhomes. As the drivers see each other in traffic, they wave and smile, for this is no gathering of strangers. It is the gathering of the autocross clan for a day of fun and excitement.
What is an Autocross?
Autocross is a sport of trying to navigate your car through a defined course faster than your competition. It is a performance driving event. It is designed to accommodate cars ranging from sporty sedans to dedicated racecars. Autocrossing is a safe way to learn how to driving your car at the limits of its potential. It is also a sport that is accessible to many people. It does not allow a large amount of money nor willingness to take undue risks.
Autocrossing is not wheel-to-wheel competition, where all competitors are on track at once, passing each other as they are able and vying position, sometime bumping to each other. Most of the differences between autocross and wheel-to-wheel racing are due to desire to make autocrossing a safe and affordable way to race. Autocross is more of a test of a driver's ability to learn the course quickly, since each course are different and a driver typically gets a very few tries at it. A typical run usually last less than two minutes.
In autocross the course is defined by soft barriers, such as traffic pylons, so cars and drift of course wont get damage.
Events are typically run at relatively low speeds (45-65 mph). On most cases cars will not be shifted beyond second gear. On the other hand, it is quite exciting. There are many interesting things a performance oriented car will do in second gear at 65mph or so.
Depending in how the event is being ran, either there will be one car on the course at a time or the course will be well separated. There is essentially no chance that two cars will run into each other. On a closed (complete lap) course there will be two cars on the course at once but they will be in different portions of the course and one car will be just finishing it's run while the other is just beginning. On a Start-here-finish-there course, there may be as many as three cars on the course at once, but they will be separated by a safe distance.
There are many reason why people autocross. Drivers able to handle their cars at the limits of their performance are much safer street drivers when confronted with surprises. Because of these, autocrossers gain confidence in their driving. The social aspect is also important. It is generally a friendly competition, a social and educational gathering of enthusiasts. The people tent to be active, practical and intelligent. Mostly, though, people autocross because they find it fun.
Henry A. Watts
Secretes of SOLO Racing
To learn more about Solo Competition, please visit us at one of our events. You can also read about Solo Competition in the book entitled "SECRETS OF SOLO RACING, Expert Techniques and for Autocross and Time Trials" by Henry A. Watts.