Everything here is handy information for the rookie solo competitor.  If you take the time to read this FAQ and the must-read information (and follow the advice), you will be ready to run your first event and can focus more on having fun!  With that said, there are always helpful folks at our events, so if you have a question – just ask!


CONTENTS

What do I really need to do before an event?

What kind of helmet do I need for autocross?

What time should I arrive at the event site?

I’ve never done this before. How will I figure out what I’m supposed to do?

What is PAX/RTP?

I need numbers and letters on the side of my car?

How do I join the SCCA?

What is tech? (technical inspection)

What class is my car in?

What am I doing?


What do I really need to do before an event?

This question is best answered by reading the FAQ page you are on, the must-read information page, and most importantly – our preparation checklist.  This is a handy checklist that will walk you through what to do in the days leading up to your first event, as well as what to do when you arrive at the site the morning of the event.  You can take a look at the web version, but we highly recommend that you print this checklist and bring it with you.

Beginner’s Checklist (PDF)


What kind of helmet do I need for autocross?

ETR has loaner helmets that are available to new competitors. You will have to pick up the helmet just before each of your runs and return it immediately after each run, as we don’t have enough for everyone to keep one during the event.

You will probably want to buy your own helmet if you run many events. A helmet that meets the SCCA’s rules can be purchased for $50 to $100 dollars.

The current SCCA rules require the helmets to have a Snell rating 2010, 2005, or 2000. Snell usually releases standards every five years and the SCCA requires the current standard or the two previous, so in 2015 the 2000 helmets will no longer be usable. Snell also has sub-ratings. The SCCA accepts M (motorcycle) and SA (Special Application). This may sound a bit confusing, so I’ve included a list of the currently accepted combinations below:

Snell 2010 (SA or M)
Snell 2005 (SA or M)
Snell 2000 (SA or M)

Please note that helmets that only have a DOT (Department of Transportation) rating are not legal in Solo.  Some helmets have both a DOT and a Snell rating, and they would be acceptable providing that the Snell rating meets the criteria outlined above. Also, the M helmets are usually much cheaper than the SA helmets. The SA helmets are required for road racing because they are rated for multiple impacts and have fire resistant linings. If you think you may want to do some road racing you may want to consider spending the extra money for a SA helmet (M’s aren’t usually legal for road courses). Also, the newer helmets weigh less than the older ones, so the latest rating will probably be easier on your neck. Most of the on-line vendors have a sizing chart so that you can measure your head and get the correct helmet. Local vendors will usually be more expensive, but you can try the helmet on before buying.


What time should I arrive at the event site?

There are quite a few things that you’ll have to take care of before running.  This includes getting checked-in at registration, having your car inspected, and walking the course.  You’ll want to walk the course as much as possible – a minimum of 4 to 5 times is recommended – so that you are able to drive it well.

Event schedules can vary, but usually if you arrive by 8:30AM – 9:00AM, you should have time to take care of everything.  Please make sure you look at our event schedule to see what the daily schedule is for the event you are attending.

You absolutely have to get to the site in time to get your car through tech inspection and to get yourself through registration. Neither of these things take very long, but if you show up 5 minutes before registration closes, you are too late. If you do not arrive before registration and tech closes, you will not be able to run.


I’ve never done this before.  How will I figure out what I’m supposed to do?

First, make sure you’ve read the beginner’s checklist, must-read information page, this FAQ, and the Solo Novice handbook.  This will explain a lot about what happens at an event.

Beyond that, every solo event has a basic flow that goes something like this for the average competitor:

  • Arrive on site by 8:30AM – 9:00AM
  • Find a place to park and set up your paddock spot. The location of paddock will vary by event site.  There are no assigned spaces.
  • Unpack car and remove loose items (floor mats, radar detectors, check console, check glove box, check trunk, etc.)
  • Put class numbers and class identification on vehicle
  • Check in at registration trailer.  Registration opens by 9:00AM
  • Take vehicle through tech inspection
  • Walk the course as much as possible!
  • Attend Driver’s Meeting
  • Work*
  • Bring Car to grid*
  • Competition Runs*
  • Course and event site clean up
  • Trophy presentation

*the order that you will perform these three items will be announced at the driver’s meeting.


What is PAX/RTP?

RTP stands for Racers Theoretical Performance. There used to be an index called PAX, which is no longer used, but people often still use the terms “PAX” and “RTP” interchangeably.  In fact, you will likely hear the term “PAX” more than “RTP

RTP is a multiplier that is intended to take the car’s performance out of the equation and rate just the driver. It basically gives you the theoretical time you would have gotten if you had been driving a car in the fastest class, A-Mod. This way you can directly compare times between two different classes. It also allows classes such as Pro and Novice to exist… giving equalized times between drivers of cars with radically different performance potential.

Here is how it works. Let say you have a car that runs in the B-Stock class. Your best time for the last event was 32.301 seconds. B-Stock’s RTP factor is: 0.845. So you multiply 0.845 by 32.301 and you get 27.294.  That is the theoretical time you would have run if you had been driving an A-Mod car.  So, say someone in E-Modified (EM) ran a 31.256. E-Mod’s RTP is 0.928 which gives an indexed time of 29.005. So, even though they ran a faster raw time than you, you would have theoretically been faster had you both been driving the same car.

RTP factors change every year and are based in the previous years results at Solo II National Events, Divisionals, Pro-Solos, and other events. The current RTP indexes can be found here.


I need numbers and letters on the side of my car?

Event officials will need to be able to identify your vehicle’s class designation and number during competition.  These will need to be place on the vehicle prior to tech inspection.   The numbers and letters should contrast with the car color and be at least 8 inches tall and the class designation should be at least 4 inches tall so that they are legible at a distance.

The best way to go about identifying your vehicle is by purchasing magnetic numbers and letters.  Before buying magnets, it’s a good idea to confirm the class your car will run in by visiting the experts on our message board.

There are several options for purchasing numbers and letters made from magnets.  You can go to an arts and crafts store like AC Moore, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels and get a roll of material for around $20.  This will be enough to share with at least one friend.  Make sure you get the 1/8 in. thickness magnetic material, NOT the 1/16 in.  The thinner material will simply blow off at speed.

Also, one of our very own ETRSCCA members can make magnetics for you:

Gary Mitchell
EP Vinyl Works
EPVinylWorks@gmail.com 

If you don’t have time to arrange for magnets, you can print the numbers and letters at home on you home printer and tape them to the car, or fashion the numbers and letters with painters/masking tape.  Again, the number should contrast with the car color and be at least 8 inches tall and the class designation should be at least 4 inches tall so that they are legible at a distance.

SHOE POLISH OR WINDOW CHALK IS NOT PERMITTED

Below are good examples of magnets, tape, and printed numbers.

magnetics

magnet_example02

magnet_example03


How do I join the SCCA?

Joining the SCCA is simpler than ever.  Being an SCCA member will reduce your autocross entry fee from $40 to $25 for regular regional events.  If you’d like to try an event before you join, that’s ok too.  If you do, please be sure to ask a registration official for a “Weekend Membership Form”.  The information on this form will allow you to claim a substantial discount on your membership dues.  Additionally, ETR will give you a free entry to a regional solo event once you receive your membership card.  When you combine the weekend membership discount and the free solo event, your membership cost is only $10.  This makes becoming an SCCA member an easy decision.

Click here to begin your membership registration.


Tech Inspection

Before any car can run, it must be inspected to make sure it is safe. The basics of the inspection include:

  • Battery securely bolted down. (This is the most common problem)
  • Tires – no cord showing
  • Wheel bearings, shocks, steering, and suspension in good operating condition.
  • Seat belts in good operating condition.
  • Brakes – firm pedal with no detectable drop with car not running and proper level of fluid in reservoir.
  • All loose items removed (radar detectors, floor mats, etc.)
  • Hubcaps and wheel rings removed unless they bolt on.
  • All lugs present and tight.
  • Throttle return action safe and positive (no sticky throttles)
  • No excessive fluid leaks.
  • Acceptable numbers and class designation on both sides of car.

What class is my car in?

Depending on what your goals are and the modifications that you have performed to the car, it could fit into several classes.

You can download a copy of the solo rulebook, as well as outlines of what other classes may be avaialable to you by visiting the Solo Cars and Rules section of the SCCA website.  Once you begin reading, you may become confused.  That’s ok.  We encourage you to visit our community forum, introduce yourself, and let some of the experts there help you class your vehicle.  We’d love to chat with you.

Locally, ETR runs a few additional classes that you need to know about that you may want to explore.

Tire (T) -

  • By using PAX/RTP, this class will allow competitors that would normally run in their SCCA solo Stock, Street Prepared, Street Modified, Modified, and Prepared classes to compete together in one class on street tires.
  • Tires must have a treadwear rating or 140 or above.  All other rules within your category and class are unchanged.
  • Street Touring (ST*) does not qualify for this class since ST* PAX numbers are calculated based on results that already include street tire useage – thus, if they were allowed, ST* classes would have an incredible advantage in this class.
  • To register for this class, you would chose the “T” index class on the online registration form.
  • Please add a “T” in front of your current class letters when running this class. for example TCS, TBSP, TSMF, TEM, TXP

This type of class is very popular throughout several regions in the nation, and it allows you to prepare for a category without the additional expense of R Compound tires. Additionally, Stock Category cars on street tires will have their own set of classes at the national level this year, creating a natural stepping stone to national competion – which is some of the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Street Tire Modified (STM)

This class is open to all vehicles that meet the SCCA solo safety requirements (no high-center-of-gravity vehicles) and pass tech inspection.  The only rule in this class is that tires must have a treadwear rating of 140 or greater.  Typical vehicles in this class can range from exotics to muscle cars to turbo imports.  This is a “run-what-you-brung”, raw-time only class.  Despite the great variance in cars and preparation levels, the top competitors usually have some very close finishes!

Ladies (L)

The Ladies Pax Class replaces the previous individual Ladies Classes. Rather than have multiple ladies classes (which often just had one driver in each class, if any) we combine all ladies classes in to a paxed class. Cars of varying performance ability are equalized using a “pax” factor that has been engineered to take the car out of the equation and compare the driver’s skills. This is the same system that our Pro and Rookie classes use.

If you want to participate in the Ladies Pax Class either A) Inform the registration worker of your intent at the event site or B) When registering on-line select “Ladies Pax Class (L)” from the “Indexed Class” menu just under the field where you select your car’s class. Please make an “L” to put in front of your class letters on your car (BS becomes LBS, DS becomes LDS, etc.).

Rookie

Rookie class will compete based on RTP/PAX:

  • You will compete against other novices in different car classes
  • Run times will be adjusted based on the SCCA RTP/Pax index.
  • Winner will be the driver with lowest RTP/Pax adjusted time for the day.
  • You may compete as a Rookie for 2 seasons, or until you win Rookie class 3 times.
  • A Rookie competitor may choose to move into class competition at any time, but may not move back to Rookie.

 

PRO (P)

The best of the best.  Results are based on PAX/RTP.  Most competitors in this class have vehicles that are fully prepared to the extent of the SCCA Solo rules and have years of driving experience.


What Am I Doing?

Depending on how much reading you’ve done by now, you could be feeling a little overwhelmed.  Don’t worry about it – we all were at one point.  If you print our beginner’s checklist and read the must-read information section, you’ll be good to go for your first event.

We encourage you to visit our community forums and introduce yourself.  If you have questions or want to break the ice, talking to experienced folks can really help you relax (as much as possible) at your first event.

No matter how well you prepare, your heart will be racing when you pull up to the start line for the first time!