San Diego Chapter, BMW CCA

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Autocross Information

WHAT IS AN AUTOCROSS?

Simply put, an autocross is a timed event in which you drive your car through a course in a parking lot marked by orange rubber cones It's not side-by-side racing, but a safe opportunity to practice and improve your driving skills in your Ultimate Driving Machine.

WILL AN AUTOCROSS EVENT HURT MY BMW OR ME?

This is a safe, fun, and very popular sport. The course is laid out in a large parking lot far from solid objects. Speeds are low enough (2nd or 3rd gear) that if you start to lose control or spin out, you can just hit your brakes and safely come to a stop, forwards or backwards. You may mow down some cones, but they're rubber and any marks come off with a bit of wax. Cars are spaced far-enough apart so you don't need to worry about two of them coming together. And we have safety workers in strategic positions watching all cars; they will signal you if two cars are too close. You will generate more tire and brake pad wear than in a trip to the grocery store, but it's not any harder on the mechanical components of your BMW than enthusiastic driving on the street.

DO I NEED A RACING CAR OR SPECIAL MODIFICATIONS TO PARTICIPATE?

NO!!! Nearly all drivers use the car they drive every day, and that's the point. We want to help you experience the full range of capability of your car in a safe environment, far from traffic, guard rails, or police officers. Whether you have a modified M5 or a beater 320i or a brand new 335i (over break-in miles), you will have a great time. You may see some experienced drivers changing to special tires for the day, but virtually any bone-stock BMW has enough performance designed in to challenge drivers of any skill level.

I'VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE - WILL EVERYBODY LAUGH AT ME?

We were all first-timers once, and if I'm lucky, people still laugh at me. We really appreciate our first-timers and have a special Novice orientation and Novice Class for you. For your first two events, if you earn one of the two top times within the Novice group, you'll actually go home with your first trophy! Every Participant, no matter how experienced, gets a personal Instructor at each event. The course layout is different every time, so the Instructor will actually drive your car (at a moderate pace) the first lap to show each driver the course and set an example for smoothness and shift points. Then you take the wheel with the Instructor by your side giving tips that will help you during the day and in your daily driving. Nothing makes us more proud than to hear from a member who avoided a road accident due to skills learned at an autocross.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?

Any BMW CCA member from any Chapter with a drivers license can run their car. Drivers between 16 and 18 years of age must bring a signed Parental Release Form available from the website. Passengers may ride with Instructors (we encourage it!) and must be 16 years of age or older. Spectators are welcome, and it is lots of fun to watch, but this is not a good venue for unsupervised children or pets.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT IN A DAY AT AN AUTOCROSS?

First, plan on a whole day of fun. We open the gate at 6:30 am (have your membership card ready to show and sign a waiver), the Registration Table opens at 7 and online- registered Participants need to arrive and confirm their place before 7:30. Upon arrival, empty all loose items from your car and get in line for a quick safety Tech inspection, then go to the Registration Table to check in and enjoy some breakfast goodies and coffee. A mandatory Drivers Meeting is held at 8:30 and the first cars start at 9:00. We schedule 2 sessions of practice laps (to learn each new course) followed by timed laps that begin by early afternoon (optional - some drivers choose to end their day here). All drivers will also have scheduled work sessions to watch over the course while others run - we are an all-volunteer organization and need everyone to do their part. Drivers with the quickest times in their class win a trophy. After everyone helps to pick up the cones, we hand out trophies and usually finish between 5 and 6pm. The $60 entry fee includes breakfast items, lunch, and beverages throughout the day for each Participant. We provide name tags because you'll meet lots of new friends and see lots of great cars.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING?

Bring yourself, your car, your BMW CCA membership card and Snell 2005 or newer helmet. If you don't have a helmet, you can rent one for $10. We urge you to bring a hat, sunscreen, tire pressure gauge, and perhaps a folding chair when it's time to relax.

HOW ARE CARS CLASSIFIED?

We class cars with a simple system of model, year and modifications. We consider a BMW to be in Stock class if it has only factory equipment. In addition, Stock classes permit any size wheel and tire; non-stock shock absorbers, bushings and strut braces; any brake pad material (brakes must be stock-size), any air filter or cold air intake or catalyst-back exhaust; and only naturally-aspirated cars may use aftermarket engine management software. Tires must be 140 treadwear rated or higher in Stock classes. ANY other performance modification, including but not limited to springs, "R"-compound tires, and engine software for turbocharged/supercharged cars, puts the car in Modified. We use the honor system. Please classify your car accordingly:

4C ALL 4 cylinder BMW models (except E30 M3 and turbo models)
6S Stock 6 or 8 cylinder BMWs up to 295 stock horsepower, including stock turbo 4 cylinder
6M Modified 6 or 8 cylinder BMWs up to 295 stock horsepower, including modified turbo 4 cylinder
TS Stock 6-8-12 cylinder BMWs over 295 stock hp, M cars before 1994
TM Modified 6-8-12 cylinder BMWs over 295 stock hp, M cars before 1994
MS Stock M cars, 1994 - present
MM Modified M cars, 1994 - present
MC ALL R-class MINI Cooper models
X ALL non-BMW or MINI models, BMWs with non BMW engines
G Gold Class for all Instructors, opt-in drivers, and cars with non-DOT tires

I'M HOOKED HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR MY FIRST AUTOCROSS?

Autocrosses are so popular that we limit entries to the first 80 drivers during Standard Time and 100 during Daylight Savings Time. To give everyone an equal chance at an entry slot, registration is offered online beginning 3 weeks before an autocross and ending 4 days before the event, and most openings are filled online. First, you need to become a member of BMW CCA at www.bmwcca.org if you haven't joined already. Members can set up an account with your entry information and register during the time frame above at sdbmwcca.motorsportreg.com. Just follow the self-explanatory instructions.

NOTE: If you just joined BMW CCA online and don't yet have your membership number, please print the confirmation page when you join and bring it to the Autocross. You can still register online: set up your account with ##### as your temporary membership number and register. Add your actual membership number when you receive it and before your next Autocross.

HOW DO I FIND OUT ABOUT THE NEXT EVENT

All the autocross dates are published in Fahren Affairs and on the website. If you want more immediate notification, you can send an email to Jim Patterson, sd-autocross@sdbmwcca.com and ask to be added to his autocross mailing list

Come have some fun with us and your BMW! Kim Schwarz, Autocross Director Email: autocross-director@sdbmwcca.com