What is Autocross/SCCA SOLO II?

The SCCA, or Sports Car Club of America, holds competitive events all over the country on a regular basis.

"Solo II is a precision sport, much like, say, archery, riflery or golf. You must be precise and consistent, all the

 while driving so fast you can barely concentrate" -- Mark Sirota
 Solo II events (also known as autocrosses) are an all forward motion driving skill  contest. Each driver is
 individually timed to the thousandth of a second, over a short, miniature road course  clearly defined using traffic
 cones. Cars compete one at a time, hence the name "Solo", in a class with  similar cars. An event can be held on
 any flat paved surface, usually a parking lot, or airport apron or runway.
 Solo II emphasizes driver skill and vehicle handling rather than just speed. The corners  are tight, and there are
 lots of them, so the driving is exciting and challenging. Solo II speeds do not exceed  those normally encountered
 in highway driving. (This is the main difference between Solo II and Solo I; where much  higher speeds are
 The skills you learn and practice here; smooth transitions, enhanced braking, and skid  correction, will have an
 immediate impact on improving the safety and skill of your street driving. Solo II is an  excellent way to teach car
 control to young drivers in a safe environment.
 Solo II is also a very social sport, filled with some of the friendliest people you'll  ever meet. The camaraderie of
 the drivers is a special part of autocrossing that is profoundly satisfying.
 Cars are divided into categories and classes. Classes separate cars by performance, so  that VW Rabbits compete
 against Honda Civics, and Porsche 911s compete against Nissan 300ZX Turbos. Categories  separate cars
 according to their level of preparation. Unmodified cars compete in classes in the Stock  category. Cars with
 modifications to the suspension, intake or exhaust system, or different wheels and tires  compete in Street
 Prepared. Cars with engine modifications and race cars compete in the Prepared category.  Cars with different
 engines, and open-wheel cars compete in classes in the Modified category. The complete  descriptions of classes
 and preparation allowances are spelled out in the Solo II rule book.
 The costs of Solo II competition are reasonable because you can compete in anything from a  real race car to the
 car you drive on the street every day. Entry fees are usually $15 to $20 per driver, and  two drivers can share a
 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) sanctioned events are insured through the SCCA, and are  conducted under the
 watchful eyes of SCCA Safety Stewards. The rules and guidelines established by the SCCA  and enforced by the
 Safety Stewards are what makes this one of the safest motorsports. A day of autocrossing  is far safer for both
 car and driver than most people's daily commute to work.
 Approximately 1100 SCCA sanctioned Solo II events, totaling more than 10,000 competitors,  are held each year
 throughout the country. More people compete in Solo competition than any other motorsport  save drag racing.
 With so many SCCA regions, rules and programs may differ somewhat between the regions. For  instance, some
 regions have an extra class for their national-caliber drivers, some regions drive in  morning and afternoon heats.

Where Can I Learn More About Autocross?

[BZA – 99/3/7] – In the March/April [1999]  issue of Grassroots Motorsports is an article entitled "Autocrossing 101". Among other things, it describes the mistakes that beginners often make and how the experienced autocrosser handles the same situation.

Is the NSX a good autocross car?

[ABM] Here’s my input for those who want to make it in the autocross scene. For  background, I have made probably over 400 runs so far and have had a fair  amount of success over the years with my Miata.

The NSX is an awesome car. Probably one of the best cars I have ever run or  seen run at autocross OR track. Just keep in mind some points:

Autocross tracks generally will favor smaller cars. So, don’t feel bad when   smaller, more nimble, less powerful cars beat you. The keys to going fast  at an autocross are: autocross tires, practice, and smoothness. Autocross tires shave off multiple second chunks off your times. All other mods combined will barely give you a single second on most cars.

Practice (and instruction / coaching) will reduce your times. Driving smoothly with small input into the steering wheel and pedals separates the men from the boys.

If you do decide to make mods to go faster at the autocross, don’t waste your money on power. Get some sway bars, springs, and adjustable shocks (after the all-important tires!). You just have to take my word for it, more power is not what the NSX needs at the autocross track. Adding 30 HP won’t make you faster.

The darn thing about the NSX is the vast majority of us are not nearly as good a driver as it is a car (this is a tough pill for most of us). Don’t bother with the mods to the car. Make the mods to the driver! How? Practice, practice, practice. I guarantee you will improve your times dramatically at the track or the autocross by getting some instruction.

I took a few laps with an instructor last time I was at TWS. His laps were over 10 seconds faster than mine, but somehow felt MUCH smoother. Granted his car had a lot more power than my Miata, but Camaros aren’t exactly famous for their handling. His input as a passenger in my car made a huge difference (and I’m not new to this).

If you really want to go fast at the autocross, buy a used Miata! $5K picks up a decent one. You can spend that much on an NSX and not go any faster…

[BP] Tires make the most difference. The problem is finding auto cross tires for those of us who want to run 16/17. Front tires do not exist in 215/14-16 or 225/40-16. We can get 225/50-16, but they won’t fit under the wheel well of cars that have Eibach’s like mine.

15/16 tires for auto crossing or road racing are readily available. Take your choice; Hoosier, Yokohama, BFGoodrich…

BTW, the sway bars seemed to help my control a lot. It made the car near neutral, but with a little too much over steer. Better tires will correct that. I may end up with stock Yoko A022’s on the front shaved down to 3/32" and Yoko rear auto cross tires.

[BSD] The stock (non 6-speed) transmission has way too high of gear ratios to be use for a tight autocross course. 2nd gear goes from 40 to 80 which is probably the entire circuit.

Cone juice comes off with some elbow grease and are generally harmless.

Autocrosses wear tires amazingly fast.

[BMC] You will find that the stock NSX gearing is too tall for these tight courses (but you’ll still have plenty of fun). The short gears and R&P will help a lot. Don’t worry about the cones; the scuff marks they put on the fenders come out with a little polish — or better yet, just don’t hit any! Definitely turn off the TCS or your times will suffer greatly. If you’re going to get serious about it, you’d better get some race tires or you’ll never win anything. Have fun…

At the Track