Parking Lot Autocross

Posted on February 15, 2024   22 minute read

Parking Lot Autocross

A parking lot autocross is a time trial event held in a parking lot or other suitable spot, like a race track or go-kart course. A course is set up in the lot using orange traffic cones. The course will have many turns, slaloms, chicanes, and other maneuvers to test a car and driver. One driver at a time negotiates the course as quickly as they can, testing their skill against the clock. Time penalties are charged for hitting the cones. Afterward, your times are compared to others in your class (a group of cars with similar performance levels) to see what place you came in. Awards are typically handed out to the winners and placers. The events will run rain or shine unless the weather is severe.

Everything you need to know to participate in your first parking lot AutoX

Check calendar on website, facebook, or instagram for current dates and locations. Facebook will be the first place to know if there’s been a change in the schedule.

Requirements: DOT approved helmet (auto or motorcycle will work), seat belts, closed toed shoes, driver’s license, money, large number decals/magnets or painters tape (number availability is not guaranteed)

Restrictions: No fast driving in the parking lot, save it for the course. You cannot run any vehicle other than an automobile or go-kart, no alcohol at the event, no fighting or unsportsmanlike conduct, no flip flops or open toe shoes.

Suggested items to bring with you:

  • bottled water to stay hydrated
  • lunch food/money
  • 1” blue or green painters tape to use for a number on the side of vehicle (magnets and stickers are also accepted)
  • extra fluids (for the car)
  • torque wrench, some tools
  • air pump and tire pressure gauge
  • sunscreen
  • rain coat

What to expect on the day of the event:

Autocross is fun! You can expect a busy, but fun day. Participants will be divided into two groups. While one group drives, the other group works. Please respect your fellow competitors by performing your work duties. Without mutual cooperation by all participants these events are not possible. See below for more details on what to expect for work assignments. The day is divided up into the following activities:

  • Check in starts at 8:00 am unless otherwise scheduled
  • Preparation & drivers meeting at 9:00 am
  • Timed runs group 1 (group 2 works)
  • Timed runs group 2 (group 1 works)
  • Lunch
  • Timed runs group 1 (group 2 works)
  • Timed runs group 2 (group 1 works)
  • Clean up & awards, finishing around 5:00 pm


Registration is handled on line at Motorsports Reg. Clicking the link will show you events associated with the club. You will need to create an account and sign up and pay for the desired event. On the day of the race, check-in is usually open from 8am to 9am. At registration you will provide additional information about you and your vehicle, if needed, and sign the insurance waiver. You can also become a member of SCCR on Motorsports Reg. The entry to become a member should display in the same search as the events. In order to compete for season points and a championship you must be a member but it is not required to participate. Being a member of the club also allows access to other discounts at shops and suppliers.

Preparation & Drivers Meeting

After you’re done at registration, you’ll want to find a place to pit. If you aren’t sure where you can pit, ask at registration. When looking for a place to pit, find a place that has enough room for all of the contents of your car and enough working area to get around your car. It’s good etiquette to not crowd other people’s pit areas. Also, be sure you aren’t blocking access to someone else’s pit or driving lanes to the course and grid. If you’re unsure, ask someone who’s around.

After you find a pit area you will self-tech your car and remove all loose items (including floor mats, spare tires, garbage, pets, etc). It’s a good idea to run through the self tech check list. Things to check include:

  • proper lug nut torque
  • battery tie down fully secure
  • gas cap fully intact
  • fluid levels (oil, trans, coolant, brakes, clutch)
  • Proper numbers are visible both sides of the car

Some events require a tech-inspection. If that is the case, you will be told at registration and a tech-inspector will look over your car and sign it off as ready to race.

​ Once you are done checking over everything you’ll want to walk the course a couple of times. Walking the course gives you a chance to learn and memorize the course before competing. Don’t skip this step because, at speed, the course can look like a sea of cones and it is easy to get lost if you haven’t memorized the course.

Around 9:00am (or when the course is ready) there is a mandatory driver’s meeting that all drivers are required to attend. An announcement will be made prior to the meeting. At the meeting, the autocross steward will go over the day’s schedule, worker assignments and special considerations. The group is divided in half and while one half is driving, the other half is required to help staff the course. In the morning group one will race and group two will work. Then group two will race and group one will work. After lunch the process is repeated.

In other words you will drive a heat and work a heat in the morning, take lunch, and then drive and work a heat in the afternoon. If attendance is high you may only have to work one heat. Turnout, worker cooperation, and course length will determine how many runs we are able to get in during the day (approximately 8 runs).

Timed Runs - Driving the Course

If it is your turn to drive you will stage your car on the grid, which is a spot designated to line up cars as they wait for their turn to run. There is often a grid worker directing traffic so follow their instructions. It is proper etiquette to return to the same place in line on the grid after you have completed a run.

When directed by the grid worker, you will get into the starting line. Each car in this line is released one at time by the starter. As the line moves forward it is a good time to make sure the car and driver are ready to make a run. Are your seat belts fastened? Helmet? Car in performance driving mode?

When you get to the head of the line, approach the starting position slowly and stop when the starter tells you to. You are now staged and ready to make a run. Wait for the starter’s instructions and DO NOT START until directed by the starter.

When directed by the starter, you may begin your run when you are ready. Usually the starter will say something to the effect of “You may start when ready” or simply make a motion and point for you to enter the track. After being released and when you are ready, launch the car and drive the course. Your times are automatically recorded by the SCCR timing gear. A run starts when you cross the timing beam at the start line and ends when you cross the timing beam at the finish line.

The goal of the day is to drive the course as fast as your car and skills will allow. With that in mind, it is best make your first couple of runs “controlled”. Try to get in a clean run without hitting any cones. Learn the course and your car and build up speed during the day. Save your “all out” attempts for later.

Tipping a cone over or knocking it out of its box adds a 2 second penalty to your time per cone.

While driving the course be prepared in case an unsafe condition arises and racing must be halted. It could be a stalled car on the course, spectators wandering on to the track, or any number of other things. In this case the course workers will signal to stop racing. Slow your car to a stop and wait for further instructions.

​Be careful at the finish line and make sure you NEVER hit the timing gear. Drivers are responsible for replacing any timing gear they run over. When you pass the finish line, there is some run off area to slow down your car. Slow your car to a crawl before proceeding. Sometimes there is a “stop box” at the finish. When there is a “stop box”, stop the car completely before proceeding. If it is not the last run of the heat, then return to the grid in the same position and get ready for the next run. If it is last run of the heat, return to your pit.

Timed Runs - Working the Course

When it is your turn to work, you will be assigned a job and take position on the course. Jobs include corner working, helping with grid, starter, timing and scoring, among others. If you are assigned as a corner worker head out to a designated spot. When walking around the start and finish lines don’t walk through the timing lights. When you get to the corner police the area and make sure the cones are in position (there should be a chalk outline around all cones that count toward penalties) and that the proper gear is there. There should be a radio, some extra cones, safety vests, fire extinguisher, and flags.

Corner worker duties include reporting how many cones are hit by a driver, resetting any cones that are knocked out of place, and monitoring the safety of the event. If a driver misses a maneuver completely, goes off course, or gets lost, then call in a DNF (did not finish) for the driver. If an unsafe condition arises (stalled car, pedestrian, etc.) do not hesitate to call for a racing stop. Each corner should get a radio to communicate with timing & scoring. There are usually at least two people at each corner station.

The position of the cones on the course are marked with chalk outlines. If a cone is knock down or out of place your job is to to put it back into position. When resetting cones that are knocked over, do so quickly and pay attention to any other cars that are on track. There are usually two cars on track at the same time making a run so not put yourself in harms way just to reset a cone. Drivers are allowed a re-run if the course is not set properly or they have to slow down for unsafe conditions.

Awards and Cleanup

Once the timed runs are done, times will be reviewed and then have an award presentation. The person with the fastest run in each class receives an award. A second place award will be given if there’s enough people in the class.

​We ask that while the times are being reviewed, everyone help with course clean-up and packing the trailer. Events typically end around 5pm.

Other Points of Interest

  • You are allowed 1 passenger in the vehicle during timed runs.
  • Passengers must also be wearing a DOT approved helmet and wearing a seat belt.
  • Passengers are not allowed to hold cameras or phones during the run.
  • All persons doing a ride-along are required to sign the insurance waiver at the registration tent.
  • All other spectators coming out to watch must also sign the insurance waiver located at the registration tent.
  • Cameras such as go-pros are allowed if they are firmly secured to the vehicle.
  • Please make sure your vehicle isn’t leaking any fluids as this may cause slick spots on the course.
  • If you have a mechanical issue during the run, please get off to the side of the course as quickly and safely as possible to avoid fluids on the track.
  • Cars are not required to have a cage/harness bar or harnesses to run but are acceptable on track. A factory seat and belt are the minimum requirements.
  • Please read the General Competition Rules (GCR) found on the website for all of the rules/regulations and to determine the class of your vehicle.
  • The registration tent may be able to assist identify what class you are to run in but it is advised to thoroughly read the GCR to determine car classification before the event.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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