- Make sure your car is ready.
The first tip we can give you may seem obvious but it is often overlooked by newcomers: MAKE SURE YOUR CAR IS READY. Are you absolutely confident in the condition of your vehicle? Ask yourself and be honest. Will that noisy water pump stand up to high revs? Is your battery securely mounted? Have you checked your car's suspension and wheel bearings for excessive play lately? How about the condition of the belts in the engine compartment? Brakes? Brake fluid? Need we say more?
The safety inspectors will check some of these items and some others that you might not expect. Remember - you are responsible for the condition of your vehicle. If you are absolutely confident in the condition and preparation of your car, you will be able to concentrate on the course and your driving techniques. Watch the people who win. You can see that most of them are fanatics about preparation.
- Increase your tire pressures.
Substantially increasing tire pressures will improve the handling and safety of your car on a course. It will help prevent a tubeless tire from breaking the seal with the rim and losing air. Increasing pressure - up to a certain point - will improve cornering ability, steering response, and pavement feedback. We suggest starting at 40 pounds per square inch in all four tires. Ask people with similar type cars what tire pressures they are using. Identify yourself as a novice. You may also want to inquire about 'chalking' your tire to check rollover. An experienced driver can help you out. He (or she) may give you a reliable starting point at which to set your tire pressures, but you will eventually have to determine what works for you and your car. There are many factors which help determine what tire pressures to use: temperature, surface, weather, the course and the tires themselves.
- Tech Inspection
The Tech Inspection process is all about ensuring your car is safe for competition. Before tech, you must ensure all the loose things in your car are removed, make sure your helmet is up to date, make sure your tires, batteries, etc are all secured safely, make sure your numbers and class designation are big enough, etc. Follow the link for details.
Other than your helmet, a reliable, accurate tire gauge (to check how much your tire pressure is rising as the day progresses) and a roll of painter's tape (to number both sides of your car if necessary) are the basics. If you don't have a helmet, there are loaners available. But for comfort, think about survival: bring lunch, snacks, lots of fluid of your choice and bottled water (especially on hot days). If the weather has even the slightest chance of being cold, wet or windy, bring extra layers, rain gear, an umbrella, spare socks & shoes, etc. Bring sunscreen, tissues, a towel, etc. Bring whatever tools you might need, work gloves, a qt. of oil, an air compressor, etc. See what other drivers bring for more ideas. Oh, and bring a big plastic storage bin and/or a tarp to keep whatever else you bring contained and covered.
- When should I arrive?
All of our event sites open by 7:30am. It is a good idea to try to arrive as early as possible so that you can prep your car, register, have the car inspected through the tech line, and walk the course. Plan on spending the entire day with us. You will be at the site from about 7am 'til 5pm. Pack a cooler with food and drink for the day. We don't allow any drugs or alcohol at the sites. Since you will be out in the sun (or rain), bring clothing that suits the weather.
Registration is open from 7:30am to 8:45am. Tech inspection is open from 7:15am to 9:00am. These times are firm, NO Exceptions. Course is usuallly open for walking at 8:00am. Mandatory Driver's meeting at 9:20am. Novice Course walkthrough at 9:00am First car off after driving meeting completes.
There is no late registration or late tech so please don't ask.
- What sequence do I follow for the morning?
- Register - Online registration closes at noon on the Friday preceding the event. Checkin is at the entrance gate to Devens or the entrance ticketing building at NHIS, from 7:30am - 8:45am SHARP.
- Tech - The tech line of cars will begin forming between 7:15am and 7:30am and is available until 9:00am SHARP.
- Walk course - As soon as the course is open for walking, walk it as much as you can until the Driver's Meeting.
- Driver's Meeting - The mandatory driver's meeting begins at 9:20 or at the completion of the Novice walkthrough at the timing truck.
- What is tech?
- Your car will be inspected for safety. As guidelines, make sure your wheels and battery are secure, you have no broken lugnuts, any loose items in car are removed, and your class letters and numbers are clearly visible. More information is found on the Tech Inspection page.
- What is a course walk?
- The course shouldn't be a surprise to you when you're driving. Walk through the course as much as you can. Once the course is opened for walking (usually by 8:00AM), it will be open until shortly before the driver's meeting.
- How do I register?
- Pre-register online if you think you may come and your morning will go quicker. Make sure you bring your VALID driver's license, SCCA ID (if you have one), minor waiver (if you need one) to the registration desk with your payment. Even if you don't pre-register, make sure to bring all this with you to the registration table at Devens or the registration booth at NHIS.
- Do I need a helmet?
- You'll need a helmet when you run the course, but there are loaners available if you don't have your own yet. Find one that fits shortly before you run and return it after your run so that others can use them too. Don't keep them for longer than you need them.
- What class and number will I be?
- Find the Solo Rules at http://www.scca.com to get help classing your car. You can also ask someone for help, but be prepared to list any modifications to your car. As for a number, pick one. At registration, you'll be told if your number is already taken. Buy some 3/4" masking tape (or color contrast painters tape) so you can number and letter your car on-site.
- Can I get help from an instructor?
- You bet! Instructors are always available to ride with you and discuss your run afterward. This can be very helpful in finding the course if you are having trouble. Feel free to ask for help.
- What are worker assignments?
- Everyone works some "position" during the day. Working the course means resetting cones and communicating penalties back to your corner chief. Working the gate means ensuring that everyone entering the property has signed the insurance waivers. Working the radio on course means manning the flag and relaying all cone and off-course penalty calls from your corner to the timing truck. Working grid means guiding cars into and out of the grid for run orders. There are lots of other jobs around that you can learn how to do as you become more experienced in registration, timing, and assist in the general and smooth running of the event.
- What do we do about weather?
- Unless the weather makes it dangerous to be outside, the event is ON! Please plan to stay for the whole day and bring everything you need to be prepared for the whole day's event in inclement weather.
- Can I bring friends, crew, spectators?
- Sure! So long as everyone signs the insurance waiver and all minors have the notarized/signed minor waiver forms, they can be at the event. At NHMS, there is an autocross spectator fee (currently $5.00) to be paid at the gate for anyone not competing in the event. Please note that friends cannot ride along with you during your runs. There an only be two people in a car if one of them is an instructor.
- Can I leave the site?
- You can leave so long as you're sure not to miss your run or work heat assignments. Keep your wristband if you want to back. If you HAVE to leave early, talk to the worker chief to make sure your worker assignments are covered. Missing work assignments without a really good reason will have repercussions and people won't like you.
- How do I grid and when?
- When it's your heat to run, slowly drive to grid and look for the grid worker to direct you to a spot. Often at Devens, the next heat to run can grid opposite the current heat before they're done.
- How can I follow the action while at the event?
- NER Solo broadcasts all announcements on 95.1 FM. Announcements will include run-order and various last minute event details as well as timing/scoring as the event procedes.
- What should I check before every event?
These items listed above should be checked before the start of every event. Please see the Chief of Tech if you have any questions or require instruction on how to perform anything listed above. Instruction will be available at every event.
- Floor mats should be removed
- Remove all loose items from interior of the vehicle and the glove box
- Remove loose items from the trunk, including spare tire and jack if they do not bolt in
- Make sure your gas pedal returns after its depressed (throttle return spring)
- Step on the brake pedal and hold pressure on it for 10 seconds. Pedal should not depress
- Check seat belts and related fastening hardware including your seat
- All wheel caps and centers are to be removed unless they are bolted down
- Check wheel bearing play in 2 directions
- Tighten wheel nuts
- Check your gas cap
- Battery should be securely fastened down (bungee cords can be an aid, but are not recommended as the primary fastening device)
- Check all fluid levels (oil, brake, clutch, coolant, power steering etc)
- Secure all fluid caps (cloth covers not accepted)
- Check all engine belts that are accessible (for cracks and tightness)
- You should have no fluid leaks of any kind
- Doors, hood and trunk lid should fasten securely (please, no ropes)
- Do your tires have adequate tread depth (no cords showing)?
- Are your shocks set?
- Tire pressure set?
- Helmet approved with sticker?
- Are your numbers and class designation on the car on both sides?
- What do I do if I get lost on the course and can't figure out which way to go, or if I miss a gate? What if I spin out?
- Bring any unsafe driving condition to a controlled stop if you are spinning or sliding uncontrollably. Put "both feet in," meaning the clutch and the brake to get yourself stopped as quickly as possible. Do the best you can to continue toward the end of the course, near competition speed since there's another car behind you. If necessary, corner workers will red flag oncoming vehicles to prevent them from getting too close and they'll get a rerun, but that is costly to the smooth running of an event. It's important that you drive through the finish lights to make sure the timing system continues to time each driver in the same order. For courses with loops, it's also very important to follow the direction of the course - do not take a shortcut to the finish as other drivers may be on course.
Take a look at the Event Day Timeline for details.