April 22, 2007

Autocross - become a better driver


This Saturday I went to my first autocross event ever. It was organized by the local BMW club Golden Gate Chapter, and drew a large number of participants (more than 118 drivers registered).

Autocross is a sport which emphasizes your driving technique, followed by your car's performance. You're the only car on a course setup by traffic cones, and you need to navigate it in the fastest possible time. The course can only be navigated a relatively slow speed, usually less that 40mph (60 km/h), and includes a lot of turns. Driving the course usually takes around a minute or so, so proper technique and car control are essential in getting good speeds.

Besides getting together with a lot of interesting people, you also indirectly learn how to react in a fast developing situation, including daily driving on the street or highway. I think this makes you a better driver, more conscious about what happens on the road around you. It does seem to make you less tolerant towards people driving slowly in the fast lane, keeping the traffic behind them :(

This particular event lasted from 8am until 6pm. It was a long and cold day at Marina Airport, but well worth the effort. A lot of fun an excitement watching people drive all sorts of cars, from heavily modified ones to legal street cars. I drove my BMW M3 convertible, and thanks to the coaching of three experienced people I managed to drop from 71.817 seconds in my first run, to 65.943 seconds in the last one. A pretty decent improvement, considering this was my first autocross event ever. I also made it in the top 10 of my car's category - yeah, I was number 10 on the list, but hey, I was still in top 10 :) Update: The results are here.

Lots of fun and excitement, I'm looking forward to future events.

Update (June 16, 2007): Some of the pictures I took at the April autocross were published in die flüsternde Bombe, the monthly newsletter published by BMW Car Club of America, the Golden Gate Chapter. Check them out!

Posted by ovidiu at April 22, 2007 05:02 PM |
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