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Re: How to Learn your Car...?

   >In one word: autocross
   >There is no better and safer way to learn how your car handles at the
   >limit - and beyond.

   Autocross has gotta be a different sorta animal in the States then - over
   here in the UK its a guaranteed way to wreck your car.

Here in the Colonies, "Autocross" basically means one of two things --
"Solo-I", "Solo-II", or "Other" (heh heh).

"Solo-II" is the prevalent "parking-lot" event -- take empty parking
lot, generously fill with multi-colored cones, and try to drive
through it.  One car at a time; occasionally you may see two cars if
the course runs in two distinct "lots" widely separated.  I've never
seen a Solo-II event that I needed to get out of 2nd gear (although it
was useful to use 3rd gear to slow me down and force myself to think
about what I was doing and do it more smoothly). Incredibly safe. I
second the opinion that "There is no better and safer way to learn how
your car handles at the limit - and beyond" -- you learn just how long
it does take to stop at 20mph (it's not a dime!), and that you can't
do right-angle turns, and all sorts of useful real-life stuff about
how you and your car can and can't act/react.

"Solo-I" is the same idea, on a real race-track. High speeds. You can
do very $tupid things. But still a very controlled environment.

Both Solo-I and Solo-II are run by SCCA-affiliated clubs; "Other" is
all sorts of Solo-I and/or Solo-II like events, run by "random" clubs.
Can be a lot more fun (SCCA-types can get *so* dreadfully serious),
but can also be a lot more, um, uncontrolled. One local club had use
of an unused airport runway: What A Blast! That "back straightaway"
was a true 100mph+ run -- right into a 180-degree turnaround leading
back into the slalom; fortunately, 100yds of runoff flat grassland to,
um, recover and finish the 180 and get back into the slalom...heh heh
(it was at one of these events that a friend proved conclusively that
it is indeed possible to roll a Sciroco, if you work at it hard enough)