My First Autocross Season

BMWCCA_AX_091017-0924
photo credit: Nigel Fenwick

This was my first season autocrossing.  I had a BLAST and I’m already super excited for next year.  I’m a nerd, so naturally, I had to break down my season with some stats (so I can compare them next year!).

The Basics

My car: 2016 MINI Cooper Convertible, completely stock (except those sweet aesthetic mods), with stock runflat all season (more like no-season, amirite?) tires

Where: I raced only with Boston BMW CCA (there are other clubs/organizations that host autocross) at Moore Air Field in Ayer, MA

What: in case you’re thinking WTF is autocross, a great post explaining it all by Jess Stratton

The Stats

I completed five out of eight events, starting in April and ending in October.

  • My worst time on my first event: 97.480
  • My worst time at my last event: 85.446
  • My best time on my first event: 87.181
  • My best time at my last event:  81.580
  • My average on my first event: 90.496
  • My average on my last event: 82.879

So my worst times improved by 12 seconds.  My bests improved by 5.6 seconds.  My average improved by 7.6 seconds.  As expected, my times also had a smaller range, aka my worsts were closer to my bests, and more consistent over an event.

Some of the best times on these courses are in the mid-60s, but because we are classed by car, I ended the season in second place for my class (out of five people, shut up, it still counts).

The Intangibles

In the last two events, I took some solo runs (aka without an instructor) and those went surprisingly well.

I took a ride with another driver of a MINI.  His MINI is modded for autocross and he’s a way more experienced autocrosser than I am.  That ride gave me the realization that I need to drive faster.  Driving faster may seem obvious, but when you’re starting out it seems natural to drive a little slower and brake a little less, like you would do in the real world.  Seeing Jack drive a MINI showed me I could definitely push my MINI more and that you can brake a lot and still go faster.

In my last event, I “got” a lot of things.  I could feel the difference of the CAR on my first run versus laters runs.  It was a cold morning, course is cold, car is cold, tires are cold, etc.  I wasn’t tricked by the course and was able to see it better than in the beginning of the season.  I knew ON THE COURSE when a run was going to be slower and exactly where and why it happened.

What’s Next?

Next spring, I’ll get some non-runflat summer tires and possibly a sway bar.  I’d like to attend Boston BMW CCA’s novice school and/or an Evolution Performance School session.  I’ll definitely attend as many BMW CCA autocross events as I can, and next year I’m allowed to have passengers, so come on down and ride with me!

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