AX Season is Upon Us

For the uninitiated, AX is short-hand for autocross. “What is autocross?”, you may ask. Autocross is a timed motorsports competition in which drivers navigate one at a time through a course (usually) laid out with traffic cones in an open space, like a parking lot or an unused airport runway. As with other forms of racing, there are different competition classes defined based upon capabilities of the cars (read: modifications) and their drivers. Typically, events also include a “Fun” class for those coming out just to enjoy the experience. Autocross events are usually associated with car clubs, like the Sports Car Club of America (Solo®) or the Porsche Club of America (other manufacturer-specific clubs exist as well), and as Spring erupts, the AX season begins.

When you have a fun car, people will seldom bother to ask why you want to take it out and have a little fun with it when the opportunity arises. I am very fortunate to have such a car, but I wish more people would ask questions.

"Sasha"

“Sasha” on-grid awaiting an AX run.

You see, I believe everyone that drives should spend at least a little time autocrossing. Why? It’s simple. Driving your car aggressively in a safe environment (not on the public roads) helps you to understand exactly how it handles at the edge of control, while putting you and the car at very limited risk. Note that I didn’t say “zero risk”, but operating your car to pick up the groceries doesn’t come with any guarantees either. I digress. Understanding how your car handles in various situations makes you a better driver in your day-to-day life, and I believe it helps prepare you…makes you more confident and decisive…for the unexpected scenarios where the right reaction could make the difference between safely navigating a hazard or winding up in a ditch…or worse. Autocross can make you a better driver on the road. Period.

In the uncertain world of bad, inattentive, and inexperienced drivers, everyone could stand a little extra driver’s ed. Especially since it is becoming more rare that students are given practical education on defensive driving or advanced control techniques. Understanding the physics by feel and under the guidance of an instructor (yes, easy-going, approachable instructors attend events), and not just by theory, is invaluable. So, I advocate autocrossing for the new and experienced driver alike. Most events have opportunities for Juniors, so your kids of driving age could benefit as well. Even if autocrossing isn’t for you (or your kids), putting in a little time in a controlled environment under instruction, like with the Simraceway Safe Driver Training Courses, is well worth the time and money. Who knows…you may find you catch the bug, and turn into an avid AXer in the process.

Stay safe, and have fun!

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