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post #1 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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AutoX Tips and Tire Feedback

Over the weekend I ran my first Solo II event and I am hooked. Overall I dropped over 11 seconds from my first to last runs which I was rather satisfied with. However I know I wasn't driving as fast as the car could go. After watching the faster guys on course and seeing their lines through the course it was pretty easy to see where I need improvement. My question is this: Is there a technique or method that I can use during the course walk to be able to pick out the best line through a course? Or is that something that just comes with experience? I know I need to look ahead more than I do. I think I'm too focused on entrance and middle of a turn than where I want to be at the exit of an element.

Second is I know by the middle/end of the season I'm going to need a new set of tires. I need these tires to be able to pull double duty, drive daily in the summer months and perform well enough at the course. I currently have Continental ContiSportContact 2's on the car. They seemed up to the job enough but it was hard to tell since it was in the 40's much of the day and grip was below optimum. I've been seeing a lot of good things about the Sumitomo HTRZ III's from the Bimmer, S2K and Evo forums and given the price and size availability (its hard to find a reasonably priced wide, 18" tire) they are very attractive. I was originally intrerested in the Nitto NT05 because they have better pricing and sizes than the big name ST tires. Anyone have feedback on the Sumi's or other street tire that works well for a Mustang?


'99 SVT Cobra #2085 -- MAC Cat-Back, MAC O/R H, C&L Intake, Steeda UDPs, FRPP 4.10s, B&M Pro Ripper Shifter, UPR Clutch Quadrant/Adjuster, Hawk HPS Pads, Brembo Drilled/Slotted Rotors, Too Much Suspension Stuff to List, Custom Tuned by Tillman Speed -- 306 whp/301 wtq
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post #2 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 10:29 AM
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How wide are you talking about?


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post #3 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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265/35R18 up front and 285/35R18 or 295/35R18 in back.

'99 SVT Cobra #2085 -- MAC Cat-Back, MAC O/R H, C&L Intake, Steeda UDPs, FRPP 4.10s, B&M Pro Ripper Shifter, UPR Clutch Quadrant/Adjuster, Hawk HPS Pads, Brembo Drilled/Slotted Rotors, Too Much Suspension Stuff to List, Custom Tuned by Tillman Speed -- 306 whp/301 wtq
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post #4 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 11:02 AM
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On your coursewalk, understand there are only a couple handfuls of critical cones, the rest are decoration. Critical ones being apex cones and the ones that define the limits of your entry and exit points, and slalom cones. Identify those critical places and think about what you need to do to place the car properly there, and so that it will be placed properly for the next one. Very often you have to sacrifice the ideal car placement/speed/trajectory in one place in order to maximize it at more important places (time-wise) befor or after.

One thing is, autocross is almost as much about distance as it is about speed. With such a short amount of track, anything you can do to minimize the distance traveled will often cut your time more than driving faster on a wider line would.

Which goes back to the old adage which was more about car control, but applies here: Sometimes you have to slow down to go faster
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post #5 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 12:20 PM
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Some good observations made above...

Practice makes perfect, but only good practice. Don't know you, but proud you recognize you were being surprised. That's what you need to deal with most of all. MFE is right in telling you that a lot of the pylons are window dressing, only maybe 10 matter on a given course (it varies).

Best advice I can give you starting out? www.evoschool.com


Before you worry too much about tires, start to learn the game itself. Besides any of the tires you mentioned are not the tires you want in the class you have to run anyway.

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post #6 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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I do plan on going to my region's novice school. The Evo schools are a tad pricey for me at this point. I'm mostly doing this for fun, but the competitive streak in me will have some sway.

Is there a good way to practice keeping your eyes ahead of you when not on the course?

As for the tires I'm looking for something as a replacement for what I have now. I'm really not interested in running Hoosiers or whatever. Just something that I can drive on in the summer that won't be a total mess on the course. My wife would have a fit if I told her I wanted a 3rd set of rims and tires for the car. Lol!

'99 SVT Cobra #2085 -- MAC Cat-Back, MAC O/R H, C&L Intake, Steeda UDPs, FRPP 4.10s, B&M Pro Ripper Shifter, UPR Clutch Quadrant/Adjuster, Hawk HPS Pads, Brembo Drilled/Slotted Rotors, Too Much Suspension Stuff to List, Custom Tuned by Tillman Speed -- 306 whp/301 wtq
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post #7 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 01:13 PM
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Looking ahead will pretty much come naturally if you make an effort to isolate the important cones, like MFE and Sammy suggested. What will happen is that, as you pass a key cone, your eyes will instantly begin seeking out the next key cone...voila, instant looking ahead!

I've never done an EVO school, so no comments there, but on the tire deal, I've yet to figure out why some feel they need to save the last $50-100/set and buy old tech, outdated, slow tires, when there are so many other choices. I can understand not wanting to step up to a set of $1200 Hoosier A6's, but why buy something like the Sumitomo when you can get a Kumho XS or Dunlop Star Spec (depending on sizes) for just a little more money? When you think about how long you'll be running them, the increase in your fun factor and what it really means economically, I just can't see not ponying up for the better tire...
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post #8 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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At least for me the tire selection is pretty limited based on the sizes I need. And the "really good" tires that are made in the sizes I need run in the $350+ range per tire.

'99 SVT Cobra #2085 -- MAC Cat-Back, MAC O/R H, C&L Intake, Steeda UDPs, FRPP 4.10s, B&M Pro Ripper Shifter, UPR Clutch Quadrant/Adjuster, Hawk HPS Pads, Brembo Drilled/Slotted Rotors, Too Much Suspension Stuff to List, Custom Tuned by Tillman Speed -- 306 whp/301 wtq
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post #9 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 02:50 PM
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What size rims do you have, or have access to? I see you want to run staggered 18" sizes...fwiw, running equal size f/r on the Mustang not only makes managing tire wear easier, it also allows better set up options, in terms of managing inherent understeer and going faster.
So, if you were open to running equal size f/r and had appropriate rim size to do so, your options start to open up. E.G., running the Kumho XS or Dunlop Star Spec 275/35-18 all around becomes possible. Yeah, they're $200-300 more a set, but given how much you've invested in modifications, that shouldn't be a deal breaker...tires are the single best investment you can make to reduce lap times and increase enjoyment. Going cheap on tires after spending on suspension is kind of like building a stout engine and then having to retard the tune to run on cheap gas..what's the point??

Last edited by tigerdrvr; 03-25-2009 at 02:52 PM.
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post #10 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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I understand, but it really is a cost/benefit thing. For the foreseeable future I'm just going to be running at local events once a month. I have my winter tires on my beat up stock 17x8 rims and I have my summer set on my 18x9/18x10 rims. I really can't justify another set of rims/tires I use once a month. So me being the cheap-ass that I am want the best bang-for-the-buck tire that will get me through a couple of summers while providing decent grip, fitting on my current wheels and not busting the bank. That's why the Sumi's come to mind. They may not be the best pure performance tire but from the reviews I've read they seem to be able to do what I want from a "summer" tire. Then there are the NT05's that are even more grippy than the Sumi's but cost a little bit more. I'm sure I'm going to end up with one of those two. I just don't know anyone who has actually driven with either tire.

Honestly if I ever get serious about Solo II I'd just pick up a used MX-5, S2000 or Cooper S and slap some R-comps on it and play around in Stock.


'99 SVT Cobra #2085 -- MAC Cat-Back, MAC O/R H, C&L Intake, Steeda UDPs, FRPP 4.10s, B&M Pro Ripper Shifter, UPR Clutch Quadrant/Adjuster, Hawk HPS Pads, Brembo Drilled/Slotted Rotors, Too Much Suspension Stuff to List, Custom Tuned by Tillman Speed -- 306 whp/301 wtq
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post #11 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 05:04 PM
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Honestly if I ever get serious about Solo II I'd just pick up a used MX-5, S2000 or Cooper S and slap some R-comps on it and play around in Stock.
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post #12 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 05:19 PM
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I noticed that too Tony. I thought to myself "here's a guy that figured out what autoX is all about in one event and it took me three years"

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post #13 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 05:44 PM
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My next car purchase will play in SCCA Stock as well. Sounds like you've got the right ideas.

FWIW, I just bought a set of RE01R's. Although they are on the small side at 245, they are a tremendous upgrade over what I was running. My regular tires are Sumitomo HTRZ's. My decision to stay with the small RE01's was made easy once they were on clearance for $78 each. I picked up a set of mint GT wheels on the cheap and that's it. It's definitely not the hot setup or flashy, but it will allow me to still autox and raise kids without pillaging their college funds.


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post #14 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 05:51 PM
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I noticed that too Tony. I thought to myself "here's a guy that figured out what autoX is all about in one event and it took me three years"

Well...I don't think any of those cars would make my list, but the point is well taken. There are more effective ways to compete in autocross than modding a Mustang and then trying to figure out what class you "might" have a chance in!

S197, C5 Z06, RX8, multiple 3 series models, Boxster (they're getting hell of cheap, used)...there's a long list of cars that require minimal mods and a set of DOT R's to go out and have fun.

Back to the OP...why not just run your 17X8 rims with some really good rubber? It would be cheaper and you'd be faster/more competitive. Save the staggered 18's for cruising.
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post #15 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 06:06 PM
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Back to the OP...why not just run your 17X8 rims with some really good rubber? It would be cheaper and you'd be faster/more competitive. Save the staggered 18's for cruising.
I second the idea of not using staggered tire sizes for autox. You lose the ability to rotate tires with staggered sizes, and this is important for longevity of use, IMO!

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post #16 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 06:40 PM
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Well...I don't think any of those cars would make my list, but the point is well taken. There are more effective ways to compete in autocross than modding a Mustang and then trying to figure out what class you "might" have a chance in!

S197, C5 Z06, RX8, multiple 3 series models, Boxster (they're getting hell of cheap, used)...there's a long list of cars that require minimal mods and a set of DOT R's to go out and have fun.

Back to the OP...why not just run your 17X8 rims with some really good rubber? It would be cheaper and you'd be faster/more competitive. Save the staggered 18's for cruising.
Out of that group I would have to go with the C5 Z06. They have become a very good performance value. Maybe in another year or two......

Speaking of other rides, what made you move away from the RX8? I actually looked into one as they have become very inexpensive to obtain, just got to keep the engine together.

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post #17 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 07:01 PM
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Out of that group I would have to go with the C5 Z06. They have become a very good performance value. Maybe in another year or two......

Speaking of other rides, what made you move away from the RX8? I actually looked into one as they have become very inexpensive to obtain, just got to keep the engine together.
well...I started autocrossing in 2005 with a C5 Z06. After a couple of years (and 21,000 miles), someone offered me a little more for it than I had paid, so I sold it, having no idea what to replace it with. At that time, Mazda had just done a recall on the RX8, having to replace a bunch of engines, so consumer demand was in the tank. So, I went to my local dealer and did a two year lease on an '06 base model for a very low payment. As soon as the lease got close to done, I started looking for a Mustang Shelby GT and found the one I have now last June, used with 1400 miles.

The RX8 was ok. Great brakes, very accurate steering, good balance, but just didn't really do it for me. As a daily driver, it was good...except for averaging 15mpg in city/highway use, which was horrible considering how little power it had...they are very capable cars and fun, but for a guy brought up on American V8's, just miss the mark. btw, the engines on them are pretty much bulletproof, it is the transmissions that seem to be made of glass...
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post #18 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Don't get me wrong I appreciate all the input. If a cheap set of 17x8's or 17x9's come up locally I may grab em and stick some 275/40R17's on em. It may be a more affordable option that I may be able to get passed by the wife. We'll see.

Does anyone have any input of the NT05's? I may pick them up for my 18's anyway for daily use.

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post #19 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 09:44 PM
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I noticed you are in Philly, so I assume you will be running with Philly Region. They have instructor led course walks that can be a good start until you get the hang of lines. The Novice school will really help too - great value.
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post #20 of 22 Old 03-26-2009, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
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I am looking forward to the novice school, you get a lot of seat time and ultimately that is the best teacher. Thinking back to my runs I know I was more or less just running on instinct and reflexes. That's where the looking ahead will help most. It will force me to engage my brain during the run and be more aware of where I want to put the car. Easier said than done of course.

'99 SVT Cobra #2085 -- MAC Cat-Back, MAC O/R H, C&L Intake, Steeda UDPs, FRPP 4.10s, B&M Pro Ripper Shifter, UPR Clutch Quadrant/Adjuster, Hawk HPS Pads, Brembo Drilled/Slotted Rotors, Too Much Suspension Stuff to List, Custom Tuned by Tillman Speed -- 306 whp/301 wtq
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post #21 of 22 Old 03-26-2009, 02:34 PM
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Ozz, I'm psyched that you're hooked man, I'm definitely looking forward to having some competition in ESP this year

The first SJ SCCA event is in May and to be honest I can't wait that long for another event so I'm going to hit one of the North Jersey SCCA events at Englishtown in April. I'll let you know which one I'm going to and if you can make it I'll give you as much of a (pardon the pun) crash course as I can in one day.
One of my fellow SJSCCA instructors has actually put a horizontal tape line in the middle of some of his more stubborn students windshields to help them learn to look ahead, but as it has been said above looking farther ahead should come with more seat time.

You'll learn a ton at the SJSCCA events because you get a full 8 runs in and EVERYONE is willing to give up their secret tips and tricks. It's such a great vibe at their events man you'll love it!

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post #22 of 22 Old 03-26-2009, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately the first SJ event is the same day as the Philly Novice school. Shame I have to decide between the two.

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