FOR THE UNINITIATED, autocross (or AutoX or auto slalom) is a low-speed, timed event held on a big patch of asphalt, typically a parking lot or air strip. The course is defined by rubber traffic cones, with every event having a different, unique configuration. As well as demanding precise driving, part of the challenge is learning and remembering where the course goes. While the runs are short, around 70 to 90 seconds, the many twists and turns mean that each run is an adrenaline rush.
Autocross is a wonderful way to explore the handling that those clever engineers in Stuttgart endowed your fine machine with, under safe, controlled conditions. And, like all UCR events, it is a great opportunity to socialize with like-minded enthusiasts.
UCR shares the organizing of the autocross series with the BMW Car Club of America, Trillium Chapter, with the BMW club doing the planning and delivery of the events.
Events are held at the CAA Centre, a complex near the Highway 407-410 interchange in Brampton. Unlike UCR events, which are Porsche-specific, the BMW club allows you to “run what you brung,” not just Bimmers and not just Porsches, so a wide range of cars have competed, such as a V8-powered TR6, a semi-race 1967 Nova, a 500-horsepower Supra and a Tesla Model 3. Makes the pits interesting.
By the way, the Tesla was ridiculously fast. To level the playing field, cars are classified by performance and degree of modifications, and a recognized handicapping system is applied to the times.
Several of the autocross series in southern Ontario are quite competitive, but the UCR-Trillium events are low-key. While times are measured, drivers are as often competing against themselves to improve their times, as against the other entrants. You can even request that your runs not be timed.
If you are thinking of doing Driver Education at CTMP, you might want to try autocross first. While at much lower speeds, many of the same aspects of driving, particularly vision and smoothness, as well as accurate car placement, apply to autocross equally. After watching the alpine skiing events from the Beijing 2022 Olympics, autocross is like slalom skiing to DE’s downhill — slower, lots more turns, and more technical.
In the past few years, we might have had three or four Porsches entered, but last year there were more present with nine Porsches at one of the events. So, if you are interested in entering an event, you will have company.
Being an outside activity, it was possible to hold events through the summers of 2020 and 2021 with some COVID-19 restrictions. In the dark days of 2020, it was really nice to be able to see a few (albeit masked) friends, and have an excuse to drive somewhere. For 2022, a full slate of seven events is scheduled, with the first two events to be held on April 3 and May 29.
In the past few years, we might have had three or four Porsches entered, but last year there were more present with nine Porsches at one of the events. So, if you are interested in entering an event, you will have company. All you will need is a proper motorsports helmet (no loaners currently available due to COVID-19) and some numbers (masking tape will do in a pinch). Lunch, a tire-pressure gauge and a lawn chair are a good idea, too. You’ll get lots of friendly advice if you ask other competitors. Registration is available online and in advance only (due to COVID-19). Registration is usually open until a day or two before the event date (although we suggest registering earlier to be safe), so that part is stress-free. If you just want to check out an event, plan on showing up between 10:30 a.m. and noon, and you will be able to see how the event works.
For the past few years, a certain gent named Mike in a stock mid-2000s Miata was virtually unbeatable. Mike did a small favour and moved out of the area, opening up things for the rest of us. The 2021 series champion was UCR member Al Forest in a 2009 Cayman, followed by UCR member Hart Solomon in a 1985.5 944.
Be sure to check out the UCR Autocross section at PCAUCR.org for all the information or references you might need, including schedules, handicap and class rules, registration references, COVID-19 protocol, results and more. As well, watch regular club E-blast messages dropping into your inbox. </>