The Autocross Tips and Tech Thread

Warhorse Racing

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Autocross is the safest and most-accessible form of motorsport. Autocross clubs set up courses made up of cones in parking lots, on airport runways and even on race tracks. Many states have a mix of local autocross clubs and SCCA clubs. In some areas, the number of clubs allows for autocross events every weekend during the season.

I’ve been autocrossing my Mustangs for years. Since day one, I’ve tried to get as many Mustang owners as possible to attend events. I’ve found that most Mustang owners are misinformed about autocross. I’m starting this thread (hopefully it will become a Sticky) to create a resource for Mustang owners interested in autocross.

Who am I? I’m NOT a mechanic, but I’ve worked on Mustangs for 28 years. I’m NOT a professional driver, but I’ve been fortunate enough to win multiple local autocross championships and two state championships. I’ve autocrossed SRA and IRS Mustangs. I’m a Novice Coordinator for two local clubs, which means I instruct Novices at events and help design and run Novice Schools. Although my focus has been on 79-04 Mustangs, I’ve driven many newer Mustangs for my students. In 2018, I created my Warhorse Racing YouTube channel to offer information and inspiration to people interested in autocrossing their Mustangs.

I show my wins, I show my losses, I show my setups and every secret I’ve learned about autocrossing 79-04 Mustangs.

Why do I do that? Because I know that anyone with the right amount of information, instruction and experience can become an accomplished autocrosser.

I’m going to start this thread with some basic information, a few instructional videos, and a promise to share my experience with anyone who has questions about autocross.

I also want to invite people who’ve autocrossed their Mustangs to share their experience. With so many different classes and so many mods available for our Mustangs, advice should never come from just one voice. All I ask is that this thread stays POLITE and POSITIVE.

HERE ARE SOME BASIC FACTS ABOUT AUTOCROSS:

There are classes for EVERY Mustang. Some clubs use SCCA classes, other clubs use their own classes. Check your local club for classing information.

You will have to PASS A TECH INSPECTION. Cars that are well-maintained, with tires that aren’t overly worn/showing cords will usually pass tech. Make sure your ball joints and tie rods aren’t worn out, your lug nuts are tight, and your battery isn’t loose. Take all loose items out of the trunk/passenger compartment. Check with your local club for all the tech requirements BEFORE you show up at your first event. If you don’t pass tech, you can’t participate.

Stock Mustangs can autocross. Heavily-modified Mustangs can autocross. Mildly-modified Mustangs can autocross. Your class will depend on your mods. You are only competing with the other cars in your class.

An autocross is an all-volunteer event. You will have to work in addition to driving. Novices are usually tasked with resetting the knocked-over cones on course.

The autocross community is very friendly. The Mustang autocross community is especially friendly. We all want to see as many Mustangs as possible at events, so we’re always willing to help Novices.

Autocross is NOT about SPEEDING OR DRIFTING; it’s about CAR-CONTROL. If you consistently drive beyond your limits, or if you intentionally drift, you will be asked to leave.

Damage to your car is EXTREMELY RARE, but it can happen. Hitting cones can leave marks that usually rub or wash off. You will experience greater than average tire wear.

Autocross is FUN, SAFE and AFFORDABLE. It’s a great way to get into performance driving.

HERE ARE SOME NOVICE TIPS:

This video covers 79-04 Mustang Autocross Mod Myths. Improving our cars can make them more capable out on course. But, some common mods actually make 79-04 Mustangs WORSE for autocross.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHK5vd7sRx0&t


This video discusses the most common elements you’ll have to navigate on an autocross course and how to get through them as fast as possible.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMLnwJLvWcs&t


These three videos deal with the THREE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF AUTOCROSS: Looking ahead when attacking the course, using your brakes as little as possible, and using the gas as much as possible.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-ynX1X4uUw&t


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4Dy4PAYCdQ&t


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XE4ip4i0Ggc&t


If you have questions, please ask. If you have autocross experience, please share it. Let’s get more horses on autocross courses!
 
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revhead347

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I tried that a couple of times. It is a lot of fun, and very low threat. They do tend to make the courses really tight where a Mustang just doesn't work well. A Mustang is a "big" car for autocross.

Kurt
 

Warhorse Racing

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I tried that a couple of times. It is a lot of fun, and very low threat. They do tend to make the courses really tight where a Mustang just doesn't work well. A Mustang is a "big" car for autocross.

Kurt

They should be following guidelines for course design that generally allow for modern Corvettes and s550 Mustangs (which are much wider than 79-04 Mustangs) to fit through elements. Your angle of attack is really important. If you "backside" the cones, you will be able to fit any Mustang through every element on course.

When I drive s197 and s550 Mustangs for students, I have to increase my angle of attack significantly to get through the elements. But, that's the fun part!
 

revhead347

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Acworth, GA
They should be following guidelines for course design that generally allow for modern Corvettes and s550 Mustangs (which are much wider than 79-04 Mustangs) to fit through elements. Your angle of attack is really important. If you "backside" the cones, you will be able to fit any Mustang through every element on course.

When I drive s197 and s550 Mustangs for students, I have to increase my angle of attack significantly to get through the elements. But, that's the fun part!

Is that the angle between the mean chord line and the relative wind? I don't think I went to events that well prepared. The guys who set up the track brought carts; and made sure we knew it.

Kurt
 

Warhorse Racing

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Is that the angle between the mean chord line and the relative wind? I don't think I went to events that well prepared. The guys who set up the track brought carts; and made sure we knew it.

Kurt

It's basically changing your angle of attack relative to the cones so that you create a line with the most distance between elements. I go over it thoroughly in the "Common Autocross Elements" video.
 

Warhorse Racing

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If you’ve ever thought about autocrossing your STOCK or RESTORED 79-04 Mustang, the SCCA has a way for you to attack the cones without modifying your car or having to compete against fully-prepped autocross cars!

The SCCA Street Category exists to provide the lowest barrier to entry to get into autocross. If your pony is bone-stock, it’s legal to run in Street Category!

But, there are a few mods you can make and still be legal. This video gives a brief overview of the main modifications that are authorized, and a breakdown of the Street Category Classes 79-04 Mustangs fit into.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDbvFJXVs5o&t
 

DudeStang

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Thanks for this thread. I tried autocross in my 2014 GT a few times in 2016-2017. It was fun but I was definitely limited by my own driving and tires so I wasn't ever really competitive enough to do more than attend test and tune events.
gFf39Nk.jpg
DSC_6202b.jpg
DSC_6170b.jpg

My only big complaint is that the runs are so short. Some events it wasn't a big deal because there weren't a ton of cars in each heat but in others when you only get to run 3-4 times, it was frustrating.

I did a "track attack" event at Dominion Raceway (VA) last year and it was a lot of fun to drive around the track for 25-30 minutes straight. My wife even took a turn driving and I wouldn't be surprised if she was faster than me, lol. I'd like to try track-cross and HPDE at some point.

Now that I have my Fox Body, which I definitely plan to take to the road course, I have been thinking about autocross again. Once I get my brakes squared away, I'd like to pick up a set of extra wheels and tires and look for some events to get seat time.
 

Warhorse Racing

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Thanks for this thread. I tried autocross in my 2014 GT a few times in 2016-2017. It was fun but I was definitely limited by my own driving and tires so I wasn't ever really competitive enough to do more than attend test and tune events.
gFf39Nk.jpg
DSC_6202b.jpg
DSC_6170b.jpg

My only big complaint is that the runs are so short. Some events it wasn't a big deal because there weren't a ton of cars in each heat but in others when you only get to run 3-4 times, it was frustrating.

I did a "track attack" event at Dominion Raceway (VA) last year and it was a lot of fun to drive around the track for 25-30 minutes straight. My wife even took a turn driving and I wouldn't be surprised if she was faster than me, lol. I'd like to try track-cross and HPDE at some point.

Now that I have my Fox Body, which I definitely plan to take to the road course, I have been thinking about autocross again. Once I get my brakes squared away, I'd like to pick up a set of extra wheels and tires and look for some events to get seat time.

Great pics!

I hope this thread helps get people out to autocross events. Some clubs are strict about only doing 3-4 runs. Other clubs, especially smaller local clubs, can do 6 or more runs.

Seat-time is really important, especially when you're learning to drive a car with new mods. I always encourage Novices to go to as many events (and schools) as possible and not to worry about being competitive (at first). With each event (and with good instruction), you will chop a ton of time off your runs.

If you ever have any questions about autocrossing or autocross mods, please ask. I'm looking forward to hearing how your Fox does on an autocross course!
 
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G-HORCE

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Thanks for this thread. I tried autocross in my 2014 GT a few times in 2016-2017. It was fun but I was definitely limited by my own driving and tires so I wasn't ever really competitive enough to do more than attend test and tune events.
gFf39Nk.jpg
DSC_6202b.jpg
DSC_6170b.jpg

My only big complaint is that the runs are so short. Some events it wasn't a big deal because there weren't a ton of cars in each heat but in others when you only get to run 3-4 times, it was frustrating.

I did a "track attack" event at Dominion Raceway (VA) last year and it was a lot of fun to drive around the track for 25-30 minutes straight. My wife even took a turn driving and I wouldn't be surprised if she was faster than me, lol. I'd like to try track-cross and HPDE at some point.

Now that I have my Fox Body, which I definitely plan to take to the road course, I have been thinking about autocross again. Once I get my brakes squared away, I'd like to pick up a set of extra wheels and tires and look for some events to get seat time.

Yes, the tiny amount of actual time on the course is the worst thing about autocross. I also don’t like that it can be as much a memory contest as a driving contest. Knowing the course is a must, or you waste your first couple runs being tentative or going off course, and I don’t have good short term memory.
 

Warhorse Racing

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Some clubs will have Test N Tune events that allow for many runs, others will do "fun runs" after the competition runs are over to provide more seat-time. And, a Novice School is always going to give drivers many more runs than a regular event.

The more you autocross, the easier it is to remember the course, and to identify the 5 cones out of 100 that actually matter. Once you can do that, you'll be able to attack the course on your first run. Run strategy is a big part of putting together winning runs.

Autocross is all about accessibility. Just about anyone, in just about any car, can come out and test/improve their driving skills. In some places, you can get 150-200 people at an event. That can limit the number of runs.

But, an autocross event isn't just about the runs. There's also a big social component. You meet a lot of great people and you learn a lot about improving your car and your driving. It's a community.

Most events cost between $25 and $75. Loaner helmets are available (not during Covid-19 restrictions), so all you need to do is show up in a car that can pass a simple on-site tech inspection. And, because autocross is contained to a few hours, it can be a way to race your car on the weekend, without it taking up your entire weekend.

I like seat-time as much as anyone, but I also like the fact that autocross allows me to meet a Mustang owner at a car show or club meeting, tell them about autocross, and be instructing them at an event a few days later. I don't mind being limited to 4 runs if it means more people can enjoy throwing their Mustangs around on course.
 

G-HORCE

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Warhorse,

Sorry, my post came off as pretty negative towards autocross. I’m NOT. so, let me clarify...

That was a response only to the seat time issue. So, only pointing out the drawbacks for me personally. I think autocross is fantastic, actually. I aspire to more speed and have more trackcross and road course stuff on the radar, but I still autocross and will continue to do so. It’s incredibly fun, and still helps improve driving skills. I still have plenty to learn after a dozen events. You’ve laid out the positives very well in your posts above.

On the whole, autocross is well worth the time, so to anyone reading this thread, I HIGHLY recommend getting your Stang to an event and giving it a go. Odds are, you’ll be hooked.
 

Warhorse Racing

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Warhorse,

Sorry, my post came off as pretty negative towards autocross. I’m NOT. so, let me clarify...

That was a response only to the seat time issue. So, only pointing out the drawbacks for me personally. I think autocross is fantastic, actually. I aspire to more speed and have more trackcross and road course stuff on the radar, but I still autocross and will continue to do so. It’s incredibly fun, and still helps improve driving skills. I still have plenty to learn after a dozen events. You’ve laid out the positives very well in your posts above.

On the whole, autocross is well worth the time, so to anyone reading this thread, I HIGHLY recommend getting your Stang to an event and giving it a go. Odds are, you’ll be hooked.

G-HORCE,

My response wasn't meant come across like I was upset by your post. I'm sorry if it did. This thread is all about showing Mustang owners every aspect of autocross. I want as many people as possible to post their autocross experiences on this thread. Both of your posts are appreciated.
 

G-HORCE

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Thanks. No, no worries. I would clarify anyway, in case anyone else misunderstood. Just didn’t want to give the impression I was dumping on autocross in a thread that is very wisely promoting it. On my very first post, no less.

G-HORCE,

My response wasn't meant come across like I was upset by your post. I'm sorry if it did. This thread is all about showing Mustang owners every aspect of autocross. I want as many people as possible to post their autocross experiences on this thread. Both of your posts are appreciated.
 

Warhorse Racing

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Adjusting air pressure is a FREE mod that anyone can make to improve the handling of their autocross car. But, adjusting air pressure can be confusing when you’re first starting out.

I put this video together to help Mustang autocrossers dial in their ideal air pressure, because 1 PSI can mean the difference between winning and losing.

This video breaks down the basics of using chalk, pyrometers, and “reading” the tires to find the air pressure setting that allows you to get every last bit of grip.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-Z7MC5F5Jw&t
 
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Warhorse Racing

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Running in Street Category is a great way to get started in autocross. In this entry-level autocross category, there are only a few authorized mods you can make to your car. But, those mods can make your Mustang very competitive.

A lot of people ask me what mods I would make if I were building a 79-04 Mustang to compete in Street Category, so I put together this video…

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6nmV3_FZSo&t


If you have any questions about autocrossing your Mustang, please ask me here or in the comments on YouTube.
 
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