By Mario Marrello, UCR Autocross Chair and Past President
Photos by Kirk Katzel
The 2012 autocross season wrapped up on a great fall day, October 21. The weather was almost perfect for autocross, 19C and sunny, only the wind reduced the degree of perfection. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who appreciated the fine day, as 25 cars showed up. My latest course creation provided a few different twists to previous events, including a wide, offset slalom that definitely tested everyone’s slow speed cornering skills.
This year’s autocross season was the best ever, with four events, that each broke attendance records. In fact, we now have more people wanting to participate than we can effectively handle. At the October event for example, I actually had to turn people away who hadn’t pre-registered or missed the drivers’ meeting. This popularity is great news for the success of the autocross, but it’s not good news for those who come out and can’t participate. I apologize to those people, but attending the drivers’ meeting is mandatory to ensure everyone’s safety, while pre-registration prevents delays that affect those who did pre-register. Registration is easy and can be done through the UCR website. If, for whatever reason, online registration is not possible, give me a call or send me an email confirming you will be attending and I’ll make sure your spot is reserved. Preregistration helps with organizing the event and good organization is critical to ensuring success. Based on this year’s events, it looks like 25 is the optimum number of participants.
I had the opportunity this year to observe other autocross events, and I can say UCR does things a bit differently. We use a limited number of cones, so the cones are sparsely distributed—more to provide an indication of corners, rather than dictating the driving line. This approach puts the emphasis on the driver to select the best/fastest line through a corner, which encourages drivers to look up and farther away. This emphasizes good driving behaviour. A sea of cones encourages the driver to look down at the front of their hood.
I often get asked how I “dream” up the course layout. I arrive with some ideas, but in reality I don’t really know what to expect until I arrive at the location. The grounds themselves dictate the options available, so I assess the area, paying attention to any barriers, potholes, sewer grates and manhole covers etc. before coming up with a safe and challenging course design. I make every effort to ensure each course is different, so even veteran participants have a new challenge each time they attend.
The UCR autocross is family-friendly and we encourage parents to bring their kids to watch—it is a Sunday morning after all, so family time is important. In fact, one or both of my kids have attended almost every autocross event that the PCA has put on, even before I ran it. The Porsche club is and always has been about people, and we have strived to make the autocross something you can enjoy with your family. Note that if your kids are under 18 years of age, PCA considers them minors and regulations require a specific waiver be signed by both parents. The “Release and Waiver of Liability and Indemnity Agreement for Minors in Restricted Areas, Driving or Riding” is the one to look for, sign it and bring it to the event. In fact, if you do this once and state it’s for an entire season (one year only), I’ll keep it on file so you won’t need to do that again in the same calendar year. Contact me for more details.
We also allow non-Porsches to participate in the autocross. This means if your Porsche is not available, or even if you just choose to drive your other car, you are welcome to bring it to this event. I am looking for volunteers to help with 2013 planning and execution. My son Paul has provided solid support over the years and will continue but more help is needed. If you would like to help out in 2013, contact me as soon as possible, as planning starts now. I am just looking for a small number of people to help with driver registration, safety checks and marshaling the course.
Have a great winter and see you all again next year, if not sooner at another UCR event!