Anyone who is a car enthusiast and even those with only a passing interest will eventually put the peddle to the metal just for the rush. Drive along a deserted country road loaded with curves and switchbacks, top-down, radio playing, and you can’t help yourself. You just have to see how the vehicle handles the curves. Feeling the G force try to force the car out of its lane while you use all your driving prowess to maintain a line, is what driving is all about.
Of course, there are downsides to driving like that. Country roads mean country police with nothing better to do than write tickets. There are also unexpected obstacles, like a downed tree, a boulder, someone fixing a flat, or maybe a cow. Yes, it’s fun to get your kicks on Route 66, or 1, or fill in the blank, but even better if you can do it safely. That’s where Autocross comes in.
I was introduced to the sport in 1970 while stationed at Laredo Air Force Base, Texas. A chapter of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) from San Antonio held a rally in a local supermarket parking lot. I watched as the members set up orange cones in a pattern that created a road course. Once this was done, the drivers walked the course to familiarize themselves with all the twists and turns. After the walk was over, it was time to drive.
The cars that the members had brought to the race were Corvettes, Auston Healy 3000, Jaguars, MGBs, TR 4s, and Porches. My ride at the time was a 1957 Triumph TR 3 that I was in the middle of restoring. I had no business competing with this group, but it looked like fun, so what the heck? Even with a steering linkage that desperately needed repair, I placed fourth in my class. I was hooked on the sport. It was also the last time I got to take part in the sport for 35 years.
As I’m sure we all know, life has as many curves and switchbacks as that country road I mentioned. I always owned sports cars, but between raising three kids, and working two and often three jobs, finding the time and money for Autocross was impossible. It wasn’t until the kids had grown my wife and I parted company, and my new wife and I moved to Fort Worth, that my interest was revived.
My brother had lived in Fort Worth for over fifteen years, so he acted as our tour guide. One stop on the tour was Texas Motor Speedway. Sometimes fate can be kind. The local SCCA was running an Autocross event, so we stopped to check it out. I asked questions, gathered pamphlets, and vowed to return to the next event with my Nissan 300Z.
I only ran the Z for a short time before buying A Chrysler Crossfire. This car had a 6-speed manual transmission with a relatively short throw, which was great for changing gears on the fly. The only downside to the car was I had to leave the traction control on. The rear of the car was so light that if I canceled the traction control, it would spin out in a hairpin turn. Even when I put Hoosier tires on, I still needed the traction on. I know it sounds like I didn’t like the car, but just the opposite is true. With that car, I won the overall 1st for the season in class D.
My next car, yes, my wife thinks I change cars like some people change underwear, was a Porsche Boxter. Paddle shifters and a mid-engine are beautiful things. The car cornered like it was on rails. As much as the parking lot course was challenging, our other location was a genuine thrill. Besides the banked oval that everyone is familiar with, Texas Motor Speedway has a road course in the infield. Twice a year, we would put a few cones out to slow the racers down a little and we would let our horses run. For me, running that course was the highlight of the year. I took 2nd place for the year in C class with that car.
Unfortunately, all good things end, which is what has happened to my racing hobby. We moved to Florida where I raced a few times before the Boxter started to feel its age. Porsches are fun to drive but very expensive to repair. I traded it in for, please forgive me, an SUV. My Autocross days are over, but I had a blast while I was doing it. It’s a sport everyone who wants to race should try.
About the Creator
I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.
I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.
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