Autocross FAQ

Updated Nov ’22. Please click on each question below to see the answer:

Q: What is autocross?

A: Autocross is the most entry-level form of sports car racing and autocross events have taken place all over the world since the 1950s. Participants simply drive as fast as possible one at a time against the clock on a twisty course laid out with cones in a parking lot or on an airstrip. This safe, affordable, and fun activity is intended to encourage development of car control skills at real-world speeds. We have held autocrosses in (and near) Virginia since the late 1990s mostly with NASA Mid-Atlantic. Our autocrosses are open to any street licensed driver in nearly any stock or modified street or race car that will pass a basic safety inspection, utilizing a classification system designed to produce close competition. Entry fees are very affordable for a day of safe, legal, ticket-free driving fun. Check out our Youtube playlist to see what these events look like, then sign up and join us!

Q: Where are these events held?

A: We have held autocrosses in Virginia since the late 1990s mostly at Virginia Motorsports Park but also at Richmond Raceway Complex, Summit Point, VIR, Langley Speedway, The Diamond, West Point Airport, Cloverleaf Mall, and more. If you know of a Richmond area site we can use, please let us know! We have also provided/worked non-NASA autocrosses all over the country at sites like FedEx Field (MD), York Fair (PA), Route 66 Raceway (IL), Stafford Speedway (CT), Sebring Raceway (FL), Homestead-Miami Speedway (FL), Road America (WI), Rose Bowl (CA), and more.

Q: When are these events held?

A: Trackcrosses are held on Saturdays or Sundays, we typically do them year-round or as partial seasons (once a month during just the wintertime, for example) as a championship series.

Q: How much does it cost to drive at these?

A: Entry fees are determined per site and per event but are usually in the $50-to-$75-each range per day.Β 

Q: Do I need a racecar to participate?

A: You definitely do not need a racecar, in fact the majority of participants are in stock(ish) street cars or track prepared cars that are often still street legal. Any kind of car, from Kia to Koenigsegg, is usually fine as long as it passes tech. You only directly compete on the results against similar cars – or similar drivers if you are a beginner – thanks to our classing system. We absolutely allow Teslas and other electric cars. We do allow some car-based crossovers as well, please inquire. For safety reasons we don’t allow trucks or 4x4s, and convertible cars should have some rollover protection (explained elsewhere on this page.)

Q: How fast do we go on each run?

A: Top speed is set by driver skill, course used that day, type of car, modifications to car, and more. With this series we focus on “the twisty bits” (i.e. multiple technical sets of corners per run) instead of long straightaways. That said, you may see the upper level of “highway speeds” at an autocross, depending on site size and course design. FYI we typically design big fast courses. πŸ˜‰

Q: What’s the schedule/format each day?

A: Once everyone has been through registration and tech and the mandatory drivers meeting early in the morning, we effectively run these as two half-day events for two heats each of not more than 40-45 cars each with a lunch break in between. The morning vs afternoon course may be a different course, a different section of the same course, a longer section of the same course, or the same course in the other direction. We divide the group in half based on class, and an entry usually gets you the ability to run in one morning heat and one afternoon heat. Each heat averages about 90-120 minutes long depending on site and daylight. A sample schedule looks like…

7:00a – registration & tech
8:00a – drivers meeting/novice meeting
est 8:45a – heat A on course 1, heat B drivers work
est 10:30a – heat B on course 1 heat A drivers work
12:00p – lunch/course reset
1:00p – heat C on course 2 (heat A drivers again), heat D drivers work
est 3:00p – heat D on course 2 (heat B drivers again), heat C drivers work

Q: How many people drive at these events?

A: We limit registration so we can average about 80-90 drivers per event, this is to make sure everyone gets plenty of runs on the courses. Some events are slightly bigger due to demand/season and some are smaller but typically you can expect not more than 40-45 cars in each heat.

Q: We also have to work at an autocross, we can’t just drive?

A: Correct, we need a small army to make these events happen so you’re required to work at least one but possibly two heats (depending on driver turnout) during each autocross day. Work tasks are usually: timing & scoring, start, grid, or course/cones. Bring water, comfy shoes, floppy hats, and/or sunscreen! We may also need additional help with registration and tech, that can get you an entry fee discount – please inquire. And we may sometimes offer “no work assignment” entries for an additional fee.

Q: How many runs do we get on the course?

A: Number of runs depends on variables including daily schedule, car counts, course design/length, weather, and number of problems/cleanups. There is a drive-through behind a pace car before each heat and after that, three to five runs per heat is average. Sometimes it’s more runs when there’s a smaller turnout and/or things are running smoothly and/or in the afternoon heats when time allows, but it’s usually not less runs than that unless things have really gone wrong. So for your day spent away from home you can usually expect at least 8-10 runs total on two different courses, but hopefully more!

Q: What are the tech inspection rules for entered cars?

A: Tech inspection is a check to make sure each car is in good working condition. We strongly encourage participants to “pre-tech” their cars before each event or have a shop or trusted professional do it. Tech inspection rules can be found on the tech form here. Pre-tech the car if you know exactly what to look for or have that done by a qualified shop or person, we will then re-check the car that morning. You DO need to bring a completed/signed tech form to each event. Sorry there are no refunds or credits for cars that fail tech.

Q: Can I drive my convertible at these events?

A: Convertibles should have rollover protection to be driven at an autocross. Please inquire before registering if you have any question about the legality of your convertible. Sorry there are no refunds or credits if you register and/or show up with a convertible that doesn’t pass tech.

Q: What are your helmet requirements?

A: We only recommend full-face helmets with the latest Snell SA rating. Open face helmets are not recommended and may be prohibited soon. All helmets should have at least the Snell M2010/SA2010 or newer rating and be in good condition. Please verify that your helmet has the brown or orange Snell sticker inside under the liner because that’s what we look for. NOTE: sorry we no longer provide loaner/rental helmets but our friends at OG Racing near Dulles may have some available in advance.

Q: When can my child participate in these events?

A: Drivers and passengers at all autocrosses should be age 18+ with a current US-state-issued drivers license to participate, for safety and liability reasons. We may be able to clear under-18 drivers with licenses but this can only be done in advance, please contact Jon Felton.

Q: What are your rules about passengers?

A: Passengers may be allowed with non-novice drivers during afternoon runs. If any driver spins or goes off course, they may lose passenger privileges for the day. In all cases the passengers must be at least 18 years old, be wearing a legal helmet, and have the same level of safety/protection as the driver. Passengers must also not cause delays at the starting line getting strapped in, must keep hands and arms inside the car, and may not bring/use handheld recording devices inside the car.

Q: What’s your car classing system all about?

A: We use our own homemade “common sense” system that separates cars into 20 classes based on engine size, drivetrain configuration, modifications, level of competition preparation, tire choice, and driver experience level. We calculate championship points for each class in each series and award season trophies to the highest finishers in the classes with the most competition. Classing is truly to have a more specific way to look at results. It is each competitor’s responsibility to class themselves correctly and to help class all other participants correctly. Please click here to visit our page about car classing.

Q: How do I see my times and results?

A: To see times and results during an autocross day we typically operate live timing at this link. Just use your phone to check/refresh the page after each run (it updates every 60sec.) Then we email and/or post results online afterward, usually at this link. Also if we’re doing a season points championship, that’s posted on the same page.

Q: How do I sign myself up for these events?

A: Autocrosses are like concerts or sports games – online pre-registration/pre-payment is typically required and many events sell out well in advance. We use NASA registration and/or Motorsportreg depending on event. At track registrations may not be available so please register beforehand.

Q: Registration is full, how does the Waiting List work?

A: We may use two kinds of waiting lists depending on the event. If you register as a PWL (Paid Waiting List) entry because the regular spots are already full, we will email you by 24 hours prior (i.e. 7am Friday or Saturday) if we have a spot for you. If not, that entry will automatically be applied to the next autocross. If you register as a UWL (Unpaid Waiting List) entry because the PWL is already full, we will email you by 24 hours prior (i.e. 7am Friday or Saturday) if a spot becomes available. You will then need to register and pay online OR register and pay trackside, depending on timeframe. NOTE – if you are on either waiting list, you are NOT yet officially accepted into the event until you hear from us, even if your entry is showing on the published entry list…

Q: Is camping allowed the night before these events?

A: Sorry, we are not insured or staffed to offer RV or tent camping in the paddock the night before these events. Gates typically open by 6:45am and close by 6:45pm. Our sites usually have hotels and campgrounds within a reasonable distance.

Q: Are car/trailer drops allowed the night before an event?

A: Sorry – because the sites are often in use with other events, trailer or car dropoffs are typically NOT allowed the day/night before these events – gates typically open by 6:45am on the listed event day.

Q: Do I get an instructor at these events?

A: Sorry, these autocrosses are non-instructed events by design. They were literally invented as “solo” events. If you would like in-car instruction please register for one of our many HPDEs instead.

Q: How much does it cost to spectate?

A: Sorry, autocrosses are not really considered “spectator events” for insurance, liability, and security reasons. You also can’t get near the the action unless you’re a driver/participant and don’t have much way to know what’s going on unless you’re directly a part of the activity, so please register to drive instead of just coming to watch!

Q: I signed up to drive, can I bring my wife/friend/kids?

A: Registered drivers may bring one or two guests and/or crew for no additional cost as long as they all sign the waiver at the front gate on the way in and get a wristband. Drivers are responsible for the location and behavior of their guests/crew at all times. Children must not be left unattended and pets must be leashed/cleaned up after.

Q: Why can’t I arrive late and still participate?

A: One of our “sorry, no exceptions” rules is that everyone must be through registration and tech no later than the drivers meeting start time – usually 8am. This is because all staff and officials scatter to restricted areas around the facility to put on the event by a fixed schedule. So after ~8am there is nobody around to help you register/tech and no time to give another drivers meeting because all the people who perform those activities are now away from the paddock doing some other mission-critical task to make the event run smoothly. We are also not able to offer entry fee refunds or credits for those who arrive late, so you forfeit your entry if you can’t get there on time. Please think of your entry like non-refundable airline tickets. If you’re not on the plane when the doors close, the tickets have no value. The best way to not have this problem is to stay in a nearby hotel the night before and/or leave early to give yourself a good time buffer if you’re driving in that morning. All participants really should be there by ~7am!

Q: What is your bad weather policy?

A: All autocrosses will take place as scheduled “rain or shine, hot or cold.” We would only postpone an event for frozen weather or a significant system like a hurricane, and your entry would automatically apply to the rescheduled date while still being subject to the normal cancellation policy. For winter events that reschedule is usually 1 week later. Note: during any event day we do pause for thunderstorms (to get everyone out of possible lightning strike areas) and resume once they have passed. Regardless, we can’t control the weather so please be prepared for wet or dry and hot or cold conditions!

Q: What happens when an event gets postponed or cancelled?

A: In the rare case of an autocross postponement for some significant issue, typically everything is simply moved forward. So if you registered for the postponed event you are automatically registered for the rescheduled event as well, and all else is the same. In the very rare case of an outright cancellation for some major problem, typically full entry credits are issued or replacement signups are handled privately. In either case, registered drivers are notified ASAP via email so please make sure your profile/address is current.

Q: What is your registration cancellation policy?

A: For all autocrosses the policy you agree to when you register is “All sales final – no cancellation, refund, or credit. Entry is transferrable to another person for this event only.” We are truly sorry if you disagree but there are no exceptions to this policy so please don’t ask. Think of your registration like concert tickets or sporting event passes – they get you a seat at a specific place and time for a usually sold-out event, and that’s all. If you are having car problems, your best option is to bring a different car. If you find you cannot attend for any other reason, your best option is to sell or give the spot to someone else qualified to participate, then let us know whose name to put on it by NOON ON THE TUESDAY OR WEDNESDAY PRIOR i.e. 72 hours prior to our arrival at the track to set up (noon Tuesday if a Saturday event, noon Wednesday if a Sunday event.)
This policy is financially necessary – we run autocrosses very close to “at cost to put on” by design, so our entry fees can be as low as possible. If we have to factor in refunds or credits we’re then taking dollars away from later events. That would make our entry fees go up and fewer people would get to come drive which means less fun for everyone. The down-side of this arrangement is that sometimes people just have to lose an entry due to circumstances beyond their control, it’s unfortunate but necessary. So our entries are as cheap as possible, but they are treated like sold-out plane tickets or concert tickets or similar – if you’re not there, regardless of reason, they have no value. Thanks very much for understanding!

Also please note, the deadline for putting someone else’s name on your entry or otherwise updating said entry is NOON ON THE TUESDAY OR WEDNESDAY PRIOR i.e. 72 hours prior to our arrival at the track to set up (noon Tuesday if a Saturday event, noon Wednesday if a Sunday event.) The ONLY changes we will be able to facilitate after that time (including at the track on an event morning) are ONLY if you need to change classes or bring a different car…

Q: What are you doing about Coronavirus?

A: The health of our participants and staff remains everyone’s top priority. Many events have been postponed or cancelled. Our intention is to resume only as soon as it’s safe to do so. Hopefully that will be during late spring or early summer 2020.Β 

May 2020 Update: As we all start thinking about holding events again, click here to review our outline of event procedural changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We plan to follow those guidelines until further notice.

December 2021 Update: we continue to operate with various precautions in place, TBA per event.

For questions not answered above please email Get Fast Info