I started working on this last night, you can see where I left off. I tried to compile a lot of things I've had bookmarked and stuff from my own knowledge. I know the rules are not complete, but it's meant to give a basic overview of the sport to newcomers. I encourage everyone to fully read the rules or ask questions specific to YOUR CAR if you are unsure where you'll class. Also, autoX vetererans, feel free to post up more stuff and I'll add it for the next version/when I finish this one. I was going to just make a list of what to bring and a basic how to prep your car, but I got a little carried away, and we need an article like this anyway.
here we go....
Getting Your CRX (and you!) Ready for Autocross
This is meant to be a basic guide for people new to the sport, just a general list of stuff to get your car ready for autocrossing. If you haven't done it before, I highly recommend attending an event. You might think it looks slow and/or boring, take a ride with someone, most people will give you a ride-along if you ask. It's definitely a lot of fun, you get to learn a lot about driving and meet other car-minded people.
Anyway... say you're all ready to get out there and squish some cones, here's what you need to do!
Stuff to Bring
These are things you need to bring that you probably won't be able to share/steal from other people:
First off, you need your CRX! Make sure it's up to snuff, so it's safe to run and not going to leave you stranded when you hit that rotary with low oil.
Wear sneakers or thin-soled shoes. No need to go out and buy something new, but don't wear boots... and you won't be allowed to run in sandals.
Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, and WATER. It's going to be hot, even if it's early spring or late fall. It's probably sunny out, and you're sitting in an open lot, don't dehydrate.
Pack a jacket and maybe an umbrella if you see possible rain on the forecast, though some clubs will shut down if it's raining enough to warrant an umbrella.
Bring a helmet if you have one. Most motorcycle helmets are approved for use, that's what I use. If you don't have one, the hosting club will probably have loaners.
Food. Depending where you are, you might be able to run out and buy something, but you'll use your whole rest time up doing it. Pack a lunch for you and whoever you bring so you can stay at the lot and watch/talk to the experienced people run.
Bring something to sit on. Some people just stand, some bring chairs, some bring blankets if there's a grassy area near by. If you have an extra set of wheels/tires, there you go, 2 chairs!
Money for the entry fee, self explanatory.
Bring a camera, because you'll want to post here when you get home, and we're picture whores!!
There are some other things you don't necessarily need to go out and get if you don't have them (other people probably will), but it can't hurt to be prepared:
Tire pressure gauge. Very important, you'll be playing with pressure at first to get it right. If you don't have one, chances are every other person at the event will, so don't worry, just make some friends. It's important to use the same gauge every time, so your readings are consistent.
Air tank or portable compressor. If you don't have one don't worry, a lot of people don't, but there are always a couple of people who do. The clubs I run with actually have them for member use, which is convenient. Worst case, you can run to a convenience store and get some air, just overfill a little (~40 psi) and let some out to adjust later.
Chalk and/or shoe polish/grease pen. Use these to mark your tires to find the best pressure. The polish/grease can be used in some clubs to mark your window with the number and class of your car.
Glass cleaner and rag/paper towels. PLEASE clean the numbers off your car before you leave the lot, the world (read: police) doesn't need to know you went to an autocross today. Also, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to clean off.
SCCA or applicable rules.
Tech Inspection and Car Prep
Obviously your CRX needs to be in good running order to compete. It also needs to be safe, both for the car and for you. Some places will be lax about tech, but you shouldn't assume that anywhere.
Check your ball joints and wheel bearings. They are going to give your wheels a shake, make sure there is no play. It's unsafe for the street anyway, so fix it!
Likewise, make sure your suspension is tight and working, no leaky shocks or broken springs.
Check your brakes. If you know they aren't good on the street (leaky master cylinder, air in the lines) then you're not passing tech for sure. There's no time to pump the brake pedal when you're heading for a corner. At tech, the inspector may want to get in and check the pedal for firmness.
Top off the oil and coolant, and check all fluids for leakage. Better yet, clean the grease and grime out of your engine bay so there are no quesitons.
The throttle cable must not stick, you may want to make sure it's adjusted right at the edge of tension for crisp response.
The battery, whether in the bay or trunk, must be secured. No self-tapping screws in the back, they will tear out under impact (but may pass inspection). Hopefull you won't be hitting anything at autocross, but if you have to secure your battery to pass tech, you may as well do it once and correctly.
Tires must be good. This is simple, you wouldn't want to run on beat tires anyway. Make sure they are not bald or have cords showing.
You must have working seatbelts, unless you are Matt Miner.
If you bring a helmet, it needs to pass inspection as well, I believe Snell 2000 and up are legal now, generally it's the most current rating and 2 ratings back.
Remove any loose items from your car. I like to take all the cargo cover and rear carpet stuff out, but that might not be allowed in stock class (for Sis). Take out that giant sub box and amp too, and clean the trash from the floor and under the seats. You're required to remove the floormats as well. Take the spare and tools out, the tools aren't even secured very well.
You also have to remove hubcaps if you have them, if you're using Si wheels you might want to remove the centercaps as well. My rule of thumb for centercap removal is if it's big enough to cover the lugnuts, it comes off.
This one is important for a lot of us for some reason. Your muffler/exhaust must not be excessively loud. You know who you are!
Before you even go, figure out what class your car is in, and when you get your number make sure you put it on the car in an appropriate and visible place. On the CRX I like to use the door for magnetic/vinyl stickers, and the rear window for shoe polish/grease/wax. Make sure to put your number AND the class, someone is using it to track your times so be clear. For example, if you're in G stock, and your car is #88, put "88GS". Abbreviations for the classes you're probably in are: GS for G stock, HS for H stock (first gen), CSP for C street prepared, STS2 for STS2
, SM2 for Street Modified 2, EM for E-modified.
I like to do an oil change and go over the CRX a couple of days beforehand. It's not a good idea to put a swap in or add a major part the night before, been there, done that.
Things You Want to Know Before You Leave
Now that you have everything packed up, and your car is good to go, what else do you need? It's important to arrive ready to help out and work as well as race. Autocross events rely on the participants to help run the event, so even if it's your first time, you'll be working. That said, don't waste time skimming the rules when you're there, or trying to watch your kids/dog/the girl over there behind turn 2...
It's important to know what class you are in before you leave, as I said before. Here are the common classes you'll be in with a CRX, this is a general description of common classes, you should still read the rules.
Stock: H stock for first gen, G stock for second gens. You're allowed upgraded brakes (pads/shoes and SS lines), shocks, catback, air filter (replacement element) front sway, and tires (street legal only). You can have different wheels, provided they are the same size as the stock ones. You can have any option that came on your model (Si/DX/HF) and OEM replacement parts (no need for Honda OEM battery and the like). A roll bar or cage and harness are allowed, but no cutting the seat to get it in. You can also have any little convenience/cosmetic parts like shift knobs and that 10" tach, stuff that's not going to really help you. No removing parts, not even the stereo unless you have a delete plate. If you have a DX/HF with an Si swap, you also need the rest of the Si along with it, but most places probably won't know the difference or care, especially on your first time.
Street Touring (STS): STS2 for the CRX since it's a 2-seater, depending on whether or not you have it. This is what most stock-engined CRXs will be in, there's a much bigger range of competition here. The idea here is for lightly modified, primarily streetable/DD cars. All stock rules apply here in addition to the following: Any suspension (shocks/springs) that doesn't change the mounting point. Any front or rear sway bar. Strut bars that (as of this year) only provide stiffening along a single axis, the Neuspeed bar that's so popular is out. Any wheel up to 7.5" wide, tires up to 225 (you'll probably run 195 to 215) with treadwear higher than 140 (Azenis, KDW2, and RS-2 are popular). Any shifter, pedal assembly, steering wheel, or seat (must have reclining back). Cross drilled/slotted rotors. Any header and catback that's street legal (remember the noise rule). You can remove exterior trim and run that 10' wing and Black Widow kit if you so desire. You can also roll the fenders for your tires, but no removing material or flaring. Any engine management (must be emission legal). Any mods to the intake from the throttle plate out, basically bolt on intake tubes or cutting of the factory airbox, etc. You can remove the rear interior, anything behind the driver's seat.
Street Prepared: CSP for both gens. Basically everything you can do in the aforemention categories and then some. If you're running in CSP, you'll start to see some cars that are track-only, and a little more competitive. You can swap your engine and transmission from a different CRX model, meaning you can run an A6 with an Si tranny at best. If you put that spare HF motor in your 91 Si, sucks to be you because you're in CSP. You cannot modify the swapped motor or tranny beyond the rules' allowances. Oil pans, filters, coolers etc are unrestricted. Intake manifold is open too, so MPFI that D15! Any clutch/flywheel setup and LSDs are allowed. Cam gears (not cams) and underdrive pullies are allowed. Seats are unrestricted, you just have to have two of them, and no unpadded racing seats. You can remove the radio and AC, but you still need the delete plate. You can run any tire/wheel combo you want, must be street legal (R compounds are fine). As long as you keep the factory mounting points, suspension is more or less unlimited, and you're allowed poly bushings too. Brakes are more or less unrestricted. You can move the battery as long as it's behind the seat (if it's in the passenger compartment) and secured, and you can toss the stock tray. Any ignition system and mods to the wiring are allowed.
Street Modified: SM2 for all CRXs. Basically, if you have a swap or a forced induction setup, you're in here, but no traction bars! You can also run big brake kits. Your car can't be lighter than 1500 pounds. This class is going to be pretty popular with swapped cars, even though you may not be prepped to the level everyone else is at. Pretty much anything goes, and if you don't fit in here because you removed all your interior... you're in E-Mod. There are a lot of other mods listed in the rules, but chances are you don't have to worry about them because you're here running with a swap or DA brakes.