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post #1 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-03-2011, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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First Autocross

I ran in the Clemson Sports Car Club's autocross yesterday. This was my first autocross, so as you can see in the video my driving skills have a lot of room for improvement. I also got a video of my best run using my homemade camera mount.

Clemson Sports Car Club Autocross Mazda 3 2.0



I had a lot of fun and it is great to learn how to control a car better at the limit, but to be honest, I don't think I want to autocross a Mazda 3. Even though I had the Tri-Point rear sway bar on the stiffest setting, my car still understeered a lot. Autocrossing is probably something I will do in the future, but for me the Mazda 3 isn't the right car. I would much rather keep my 3 as a daily driver and buy a used, light, RWD car that I can beat on when autocrossing.


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post #2 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-03-2011, 03:05 PM
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Re: First Autocross

Good to hear you had fun at your first autox. I hate that I missed talking with you. I was looking for you after our runs, but I didn't see your car when I got back to the paddock. I like the challenge of making the 3 fast(and beating all the Speed3s) but I understand that it's not for everyone. If you are still in Clemson next school year, you can join CSCC and drive the RX7 club car.

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post #3 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-03-2011, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: First Autocross

That's ok, I saw your car (which was easy with all the orange), but it was kind of crazy with so many drivers. I actually won't be in Clemson next year since I'll be studying abroad, but I may be back the year after and I would love to join CSCC and drive the club car.

I was thinking about it more and I should probably give my 3 another chance before I rule it out as the car I use for autocrossing. I was a little frustrated that my fastest run was over 50 s (I think 50.914), but maybe next time will be better since I have one autox under my belt, and I can make some changes to my car to improve the handling.

Anyways, I've been checking for the results to be posted, but how were your times? The course was really good, although a lot of the first drivers got confused and went the wrong way. My first run was actually a DNF since I went around for three laps instead of two lol.


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post #4 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-03-2011, 10:24 PM
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Re: First Autocross

The 3 definitely needs some getting used to with the understeer but with the tripoint at the stiffest it is safe to assume that the understeer you were experiencing was due to your driving style or technique. Even rwd cars can understeer with bad driving technique.

I would recommend reading a little about the physics of driving and how to manipulate them (ie: throttle lift) from either the internet or books (Speed Secrets are simple and to the point). You will also learn proper hand positioning on the steering wheel. At your level the only way to get fast is to improve your driving technique. The only way to the that is to autocross more. No modification to your car will make you a better driver, in fact I believe that an inexperienced driver with a car that is heavily modded will never really learn as much as one who is driving a stock POS. Mods only hide your mistakes which means you dont correct them. So in your case, if you mod your car to reduce understeer, you will never really learn how to control and prevent understeer through your driving technique. leave the car is as and get as much seat time as you can.





How is driving a 100whp car more fun than a 250whp? I KNOW! Right wheel drive.
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post #5 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-03-2011, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: First Autocross

[quote author=Obey the Speed link=topic=188795.msg3982929#msg3982929 date=1301883893]
The 3 definitely needs some getting used to with the understeer but with the tripoint at the stiffest it is safe to assume that the understeer you were experiencing was due to your driving style or technique. Even rwd cars can understeer with bad driving technique.

I would recommend reading a little about the physics of driving and how to manipulate them (ie: throttle lift) from either the internet or books (Speed Secrets are simple and to the point). You will also learn proper hand positioning on the steering wheel. At your level the only way to get fast is to improve your driving technique. The only way to the that is to autocross more. No modification to your car will make you a better driver, in fact I believe that an inexperienced driver with a car that is heavily modded will never really learn as much as one who is driving a stock POS. Mods only hide your mistakes which means you dont correct them. So in your case, if you mod your car to reduce understeer, you will never really learn how to control and prevent understeer through your driving technique. leave the car is as and get as much seat time as you can.

[/quote]

Thanks for the advice. Reading some books about driving is definitely something I will be doing. I wasn't planning on doing any serious mods right now, but I might look into better tires.


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post #6 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 11:14 AM
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Re: First Autocross

My pleasure.

FYI, better tires are included under the mods list i was referring to. Learn to drive on crappy tires and you will be a monster with some sticky ones (ie Star Specs). I say hold off on that at least for a few more events. Its your call though.

How is driving a 100whp car more fun than a 250whp? I KNOW! Right wheel drive.
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post #7 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 11:16 AM
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Re: First Autocross

[quote author=Spencer link=topic=188795.msg3982635#msg3982635 date=1301859991]
Anyways, I've been checking for the results to be posted, but how were your times? The course was really good, although a lot of the first drivers got confused and went the wrong way. My first run was actually a DNF since I went around for three laps instead of two lol.
[/quote]

Haha, you weren't the only one who went around three times...don't feel bad about that happens all the time. I went "slow" the first run to get a visual of the course before pushing it...a ton of cones out there. The second run was really bad, ABS kicked on twice and I hit 2 cones. The third lap was okay but I still hit a cone...45.1 +1. The last run I had to do clean, and I did with a good run...44.5. Could have gotten a better start and clipped some cones closer, but it was a 95% run. I think I finished 2nd behind the prepped "buzz can" focus.

As far as understeer, I have almost none...once the weight transfers on my stock springs/shocks...ofcourse unless I am going entirely too fast. I actually have less understeer in my 3(with my current mods) than I had in my stock AP2 S2000. I can easily dial in the under/oversteer with tire pressure adjustments too. But like OTS said, it is more likely due to technique than set up...speed control, steering input, racing line, weight transfer, pedal inputs, etc. It takes head knowledge, butt in the seat knowledge, and lots of practice.

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post #8 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-05-2011, 07:41 PM
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Re: First Autocross

Good job Spencer! Don't give up on the 3 yet. It is a great autocross car just in stock form and has won a National Championship in HS not to mention numerous other wins regionally and locally. I'm going to be blunt here so forgive me....you are a total newb and you are going to suck at autocross for awhile no matter what car you are in. Rome wasn't built in a day and you're not going to be setting FTD's or FTDI's at your first autocross either. Getting really good and setting down fast times isn't easy....it takes seat time and a lot of it.

My bone stock Mazda3 rarely understeers......maybe only in the slowest, tightest corners perhaps. It's actually pretty neutral to slightly loose and the back end will come around often and it will spin if you're not paying attention. Part of this is because I have an alignment with autocross in mind. A car's handling can be easily tuned with just a few simple adjustments to the alignment. If you're wanting less understeer try some slight toe out up front (like 16th" total) and 0 toe out back. Camber is fixed unless you have camber plates so don't worry about that. First I would just get some more seat time under your belt and learn about the basics like hand position on the wheel, looking ahead, good basic driving techniques, ect ect then get an alignment and tires. Also, if you really want to be competitive ditch the rear sway and any other mods that bump you out of stock and run in HS.
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post #9 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-06-2011, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
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Re: First Autocross

[quote author=ClemsonMZ3 link=topic=188795.msg3983442#msg3983442 date=1301930216]
[quote author=Spencer link=topic=188795.msg3982635#msg3982635 date=1301859991]
Anyways, I've been checking for the results to be posted, but how were your times? The course was really good, although a lot of the first drivers got confused and went the wrong way. My first run was actually a DNF since I went around for three laps instead of two lol.
[/quote]

Haha, you weren't the only one who went around three times...don't feel bad about that happens all the time. I went "slow" the first run to get a visual of the course before pushing it...a ton of cones out there. The second run was really bad, ABS kicked on twice and I hit 2 cones. The third lap was okay but I still hit a cone...45.1 +1. The last run I had to do clean, and I did with a good run...44.5. Could have gotten a better start and clipped some cones closer, but it was a 95% run. I think I finished 2nd behind the prepped "buzz can" focus.

As far as understeer, I have almost none...once the weight transfers on my stock springs/shocks...ofcourse unless I am going entirely too fast. I actually have less understeer in my 3(with my current mods) than I had in my stock AP2 S2000. I can easily dial in the under/oversteer with tire pressure adjustments too. But like OTS said, it is more likely due to technique than set up...speed control, steering input, racing line, weight transfer, pedal inputs, etc. It takes head knowledge, butt in the seat knowledge, and lots of practice.
[/quote]

Congrats man I saw that you won your class! I think I entered most of the corners way too fast, which is what led to all of the understeer. I think that I also need more air in my tires, or maybe just more in the front. I had 40 psi all around.

Thanks all for the responses and advice. I'm not sure how the rear sway affects my class in the CSCC events, but I'm still running in the novice class so I can worry about that later. I think that I still might get a small RWD car (although I will probably have to give up my motorcycle), but I would autox my 3 as well in order to have experience with front and rear drive.


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post #10 of 52 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 09:23 AM
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Re: First Autocross

[quote author=Spencer link=topic=188795.msg3986834#msg3986834 date=1302143917]
Congrats man I saw that you won your class! I think I entered most of the corners way too fast, which is what led to all of the understeer. I think that I also need more air in my tires, or maybe just more in the front. I had 40 psi all around.
[/quote]

Thank you. I wasn't sure that I had won until the results came out.

I would say most of your understeer is speed but it could also be brake, gas, and steering inputs. You have to be progressive in transitioning braking to steering and steering to accelerating. Squeeze the brake and gas pedal don't stomp them. Ease off the brakes at turn in as you input more steering angle. Ease on the gas as you take away steering angle at exit...think of it as first learning to drive a manual. You ease out the clutch while applying the gas...too much or too fast of either was bad. Same thing here. Impulse inputs are bad, smooth transitions are good.

As far as tire pressure, you are in the right ball park. If you want to induce more oversteer go up on the rear pressure. I've been in about 8 events now and have just now started nailing down my pressures. Also keep in mind that the tires will heat up and the pressure will increase a couple psi after your first run or two...always a good idea to check it again after a run.

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