Across the country, Autocross racing continues to grow each year. Venues such as Goodguys, nMcA, street Machine nationals and Hot August nights have incorporated autocross into their regular event schedules. What was once a sport oﬀered by SCCA only has become a popular hobby for many truck enthusiasts.
Let’s rewind back to 2010. There were only a handful of trucks autocrossing at that time. Very few companies offered upgrades to help trucks handle better on the course. Nevertheless, Rob MacGregor, Mike Hickman, and Rob Phillips defied convention and raced trucks at local autocross events. Though parts were hard to come by and very few trucks participated, pioneers, like these three intrepid autocrossers, paved the way for future generations.
Fast forward to 2016, numerous companies offer upgrades like suspension, brakes and roll cages specifically for the truck market. Truck owners finally convinced companies they wanted in on the autocross hobby, too.
The ability to choose different upgrades from a variety of companies encouraged new autocross enthusiasts to join in on the fun. In turn, this has helped the truck class grow. Even so, the pits are often filled with spectators who want to join in, but something holds them back. Maybe it’s fear of looking bad and getting harassed by their friends, or maybe it’s concern that their truck isn’t good enough to compete. Whatever the reason, the following four elements will help anyone who’s interested in getting into autocross for the first time.
Right from the start a driver needs confidence. First, you must have confidence in yourself, and then you must have confidence in your truck. It’s important to remember that everyone in the pits was once in your shoes. They all had to start somewhere. They made mistakes and have worked to improve throughout the years.
Exercising persistence and building seat time means you’ll be spending a lot of time at local events. On any given weekend you can find autocross events all over the country that don’t cost much to attend. While you’re there you’ll also start meeting people, which is a great way to learn more about the sport and the upgrades you should start making to your truck.
Persistence will help you look beyond setbacks and tedious adjustments to the time when you eventually have your truck dialled in. It can be discouraging when something doesn’t work properly or your truck isn’t handling quite right. But each adjustment tells you a little more about your truck, and the more you know the better equipped you will be on the track.
So now you’re an amateur Autocrosser. Your truck is dialled in, you’re doing well and things are going smoothly. It’s time to ask yourself an important question, “What is my goal?” The majority of participants do it for fun, but investing a lot of money into your truck can also spark a need to win. It’s important to recognize the fourth element, making sure you have fun.
“Walk around the pits and talk to drivers.
It’s not uncommon for drivers to want to share their stories, invite you on a ride and get you hooked.”
When you look around the pits you’ll see groups everywhere chatting, sharing stories with other drivers and meeting new people. Though autocross is a form of racing it’s more than that: it’s about family and friends. Many of the people you meet at an autocross event will become lifelong friends. These people will not only give you driving advice, they’ll also help you understand your truck, cheer you on and offer moral support.
Autocross didn’t get big just because people thought they could win. It grew because it’s fun. The sport is definitely competitive, but even those who are in it to win it will tell you that they keep coming back because of the people. If you’re interested in autocross, come out and watch an event. Walk around the pits and talk to drivers. It’s not uncommon for drivers to want to share their stories, invite you on a ride and get you hooked. Soon you’ll be behind the wheel of your truck building memories of your own. The more people you get to know while autocrossing, the more fun you’ll have. This is what it’s all about.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the July 2016 print issue of Street Trucks Magazine.