Colorado RallyCross

Welcome to Colorado RallyCross!  What is RallyCross?  Think of it as autocross gone wild.  Instead of a paved parking lot, we race on gravel or dirt under all types of conditions—dust, more dust, mud, rain, snow, ice, wind, and even darkness.  If you’re new to RallyCross, check out our website for more information about the most exciting entry-level motorsport on the planet!  If you’re a RallyCross veteran, be sure to mark this year’s events on your calendar.  We hope to see you at the next event!
Monday, 22 January 2018
Home Getting Started First-Timer’s Guide
A First-Timer’s Guide to a Colorado RallyCross Day
Written by Jerry S.   

New to RallyCross?  Here’s an overview of what to expect on a typical race day. Let’s start with a few words of advice.  First, don’t worry about the type of car you drive.  We see all types of cars at our events, from old-school VW Bugs to rental cars to highly-modified Subaru and Mitsubishi rally cars and everything in between.  If your car will pass technical inspection, bring it!  You’ll have fun regardless of the car you’re driving.  Second, don’t be intimidated if this is your first rallycross.  Heck, every experienced rallycross competitor was once a novice like you.  Third, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek advice.  Under all that dust, rallycross folks are just like normal people.  Well almost.  You’ll quickly find them to be friendly and very willing to help you out if you have any questions.  Fourth, don’t worry about going fast.  Focus on car control and staying on course.  Speed will come with experience.  Your goal should be to beat the time of your previous run.

Let’s assume you spent some quality time on the website reading the rallycross rules, you selected a race date on the schedule, and you completed your online registration.  Now what?  The following information will help you prepare for your first rallycross and ensure that you have a great time.

Here’s a checklist of items to bring for race day:

  • A valid, current state driver's license.  Learner's permits are not sufficient; 
  • Cash or check for registration fees;
  • Sunscreen.  The Colorado sun is intense and standing out on the course for a few hours with no protection will guarantee you a sunburn;
  • Hat or umbrella for sun protection and in case it rains.  Some competitors bring pop-up canopies too for extra protection;
  • Plenty of water to drink.  Not a bad idea to bring a cooler filled with beverages and food since lunch is on your own;
  • Plastic tub for stowing your stuff when you are racing and/ or a tarp to cover your stuff to protect it from the elements.  Expect lots of dust!;
  • A few tools are recommended just in case you need to tighten a battery cable or make a quick adjustment or repair.  A basic wrench set, pliers and a couple of screwdrivers should do;
Air up your tires (and bring a tire gauge.)  As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to run tire pressures higher than normal to prevent the tire bead from rolling off the rim during hard cornering.  Tire pressures as high as 40 psi (if your tires allow) are not uncommon.  Learning moment: it is better to start with too much air in your tires and let some out versus starting with too little and trying to add more (unless you have an air tank). Experiment with your tire pressures and over time you should get a sense of ideal pressures.

Be sure to check the time schedule for each event and plan to arrive no later than 30-minutes before registration closes.  Pre-registration is not required, but is very helpful for the registration staff, so please pre-register here on the website if you can!  After you arrive at the event, choose your paddock (pit) area and unload your car.  It is a good idea to bring a plastic storage bin to stash your stuff while you are racing and working, as you cannot have anything loose in your car while racing.  RallyCross racing does not stop for dust, rain, snow, or wind, so it is highly recommended that you have something to keep your stuff dry and secure.

Now, on to the tech inspection!  Tech inspection starts at 8:30 AM, so be prepared to line up in the inspection line as soon as your car is ready.  Since every car is required to go through tech inspection, tech can be a bottleneck if it doesn’t flow smoothly.  Please complete tech first and then you can test/work on your car or hang out with fellow rallycrossers.  Please be sure to check out the Tech Inspection Checklist on this website so that you are ready pass tech without a hitch.

Now that you’ve passed tech, it’s time to walk the course.  Pay attention to where the start and finish lines are.  The start is signified by a green flag, usually stuck in one of the start line cones.  This is your chance to prepare yourself for all the tricky twists and turns before you’re behind the wheel of your speeding car.  Don’t worry if it is difficult to translate what you are seeing into speed—your first few events will be about finding your way around and making sense of the cone placements.  You can walk the course more than once.  Remember, you receive a two-second penalty for each cone you displace during a run.

Next up is the drivers meeting.  This is mandatory for all drivers.  Here you’ll get the latest in RallyCross news, updates on track conditions, special instructions, group run orders, and course worker assignments. It’s important to pay attention, as you will be expected to work out on the track when your run group is not racing.  A brief novice meeting for first-time rallycrossers will follow the drivers meeting.

After leaving the drivers meeting, all drivers will participate in a parade lap through the course.  The parade lap lets you see the course layout first-hand behind the wheel of your car.  This is a low speed run—no competition driving yet; you simply follow the car ahead of you through the course. Take a few mental notes at key corners as you navigate the parade lap.

Now it’s time to race!  If your run group is first, cars in your run group will begin lining up at the start line.  There are usually two lines of cars at the start.  One line is for single-driver cars and the other line is for multi-driver cars.  You will be marshaled into the correct line by a grid worker.

At a typical event, you will have six runs on the course.  Each run is one lap of the course.  The number of runs may vary depending on the number of cars, the length of the course and the start time (that’s why getting started on time is so important!)  You will normally run half of your runs in the morning session and the other half in the afternoon.  There is a one-hour lunch break between the morning and afternoon sessions.

When you are not racing, you will be assigned to work the course.  There are generally two types of worker assignments: corner worker and timing worker.  Both duties are easy to learn.  If you are assigned as a corner worker, you will be given a corner or section of the track to watch over while the other run groups are racing.  You will usually be in two-person teams.  Both workers watch their assigned section of the course to report displaced cones or any problems on the course.  If a car displaces a cone, one worker goes onto the course (use caution!) to re-set the cone(s) while the other worker reports the car number and number of cones displaced to Timing using a hand-held radio.  (For example, “Car 26, two cones.”)  Most corner stations are equipped with flags and fire extinguishers in case of an emergency.  Timing workers are stationed at the timing tent and they write down run times for each car as recorded by the timing system.  Also, several timing workers are assigned to use stopwatches to record times as a backup in case the timing system fails.

Please be on time to your worker assignment, as the race cannot start until all workers are in place and have reported in on their radios.  Also, Colorado Rallycross requires that all competitors work—if you do not show up for your worker assignment, you will forfeit your times for the day.

After the last car of the day finishes, it’s time to pack up.  Competitors help pick up cones and clear the course.  There will be a meeting shortly after the final run announcing provisional results for each class.  Occasionally, if we finish early, there may be time for “fun runs” and you can make practice runs on the course to hone your driving skills.

Now that you’ve tried us out, plan on coming out to another event….everyone here knows that getting your wheels in the dirt is highly addictive!