I recently went to my country club, Pineview Run, to do some low-speed aero testing. I didn’t check the schedule ahead of time. My bad, the track was rented out to an SCCA autocross group. Todd said I could run when the autocross was finished, so I sat around and watched for a few hours.
Lots of neat cars, including a Miata with no windshield and aluminum panels screwed down over the passenger compartment. It was on slicks and looked like a shitload of fun. There were a lot of other neat cars, as well, and it was great to see the parking lot full!
Pineview limits entries to 50 cars, and these were split into two groups of 25. They don’t use the whole track. Instead, they grid the cars on the front straight and do a timed run from a standing start near Turn 2. The timing ends before the final corner, and then the car goes back to its grid spot on the front straight, ready for another run.
Pineview pro driver Takis was the fastest, and completed the course in 50 seconds. He’s a regular at Pineview, and is capable of 1:10s, so that means there’s about 30% of the track that isn’t being used. On some sections of the course, they also put cones up. Why? It’s not a parking lot, it’s a short and twisty track that already has corners. Is it not an autocross without cones? Or is it that every autocross requires a dumb slalom section? Whatever the case, I don’t get the need to place (and thereby replace) cones on a track like this.
Enough of the cone rant, let’s do some math. The fastest car was doing around 50 seconds, and the slower cars were doing over 70 seconds. If the average car takes a minute to circulate the track, and they let out the next car say 10 seconds later, that’s 70 seconds per car. Multiply that by 25 cars on grid and each car gets a run about every 30 minutes. That group of 25 had to swap with another group of 25 who were all waiting in the parking lot. So there’s a shit ton of waiting in the parking lot, and even when you’re on grid, you have 30 minutes between runs. Are you fucking kidding me?
Well at least it isn’t very expensive. For SCCA members, it’s only $50, so maybe that’s the appeal? But again, let’s do the math. Based on track time, they are getting maybe six laps per day, so that’s about six minutes of track time, or $500 per hour. That’s ridiculous. Pineview recently ran a $129 open track, which is about an hour and a half of track time per car. So autocross is 6x more expensive than a track day?! For realz?
I saw a lot of talking and comparing of notes, it’s definitely a talker’s sport. And there is some degree of competition, I suppose. I guess that’s why people do it? But it seems like a total fucking waste of time and I wouldn’t wait around for 30 minutes to take one lap that I couldn’t even string together with another lap.
It would be a lot more efficient to let them do a couple laps at a time. Heck, space the cars out and get more cars on track at once. Oh wait, that’s what the Pineview Challenge Cup is. That makes too much sense for this group.
After the autocross suckers packed up and left I got to run as many laps as I wanted, with no run groups. I went out, did a few laps, came in and adjusted the wing. Went out, did some more laps, removed the splitter. Went out, did some more laps, removed the wing. Etcetera. In the time it took for one of the autorcrossers to wait for another run, I’d done twice as many laps as they’d done all day. And I was stopping every few laps to make adjustments!
I don’t get autocross. I have race team members that do it, they’ll have to explain it to me sometime. I think one of them said he likes picking up cones.