IVAN TZVETANOV COPYRIGHT 2014; BACKGROUND PHOTO BY JOHN MARTINEZ
What Is RallyCross?
A RallyCross is an event generally held on unpaved, flat dirt, gravel, or grass areas with a course consisting of straight sections and connecting turns or corners. If you are familiar with Solo II / AutoCross, RallyCross is basically "autocross on the dirt." This is a great way to learn to handle your car on lose terrain under controlled conditions, and to enjoy the thrill of competing off road.
- One car navigates the course at a time for a series of runs combined for a total score.
- Time penalties are added for hitting cones and missing gates.
- Speeds are limited by the design of the course.
- Your personal street vehicle along with seatbelts and a helmet is all that is required. At most events, loaner helmets are available.
- Courses emphasize driver skill more than outright speed.
- There is a work/run schedule. You race in your particular run group, and will help during one of the other run groups (course worker, timer, etc).
How much does it cost?
Prices vary by event but generally it costs $50 - $70 per day to participate in a RallyCross.
What is the sanctioning body for RallyCrosses and where can I get the official rules?
RallyCrosses are sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) or by NASA Rallysport. You can find more information about the SCCA RallyCross program including the rules here.
Does my car require a cage or any other special modifications or safety equipment?
No, a roll cage is not required, a regular street car with a fixed roof is allowed.
Officially, the rules on the SCCA website read:
"A RallyCross event is open to any fixed-roof production based vehicle (including convertibles with a factory hardtop attached, targa-types with factory panel in place, t-tops with factory panels in place) that can pass safety inspection. If the Event Chairman after consultation with the Event Safety Steward determines at his discretion that a vehicle cannot safely negotiate the course, it may be excluded."
How should I prepare my car for a race?
Keep up with oil/fluid changes, brake inspections, etc. Check your fluid levels. Remove any extra items you won't need during race day and clear out any lose items before you race. As part of the safety/tech inspection at the beginning of an event, officials will make sure there won't be anything flying around your cabin while you're on the course.
Some competitors choose to run higher pressure in their tires - typically 38-40 psi. It may sound like a lot, but the extra pressure will strengthen your sidewalls while cornering and can prevent you from (while an uncommon occurrence) "popping the bead". This is when external pressure on the sidewall, usually due to driving/drifting into a rut sideways against the wheel, can push the sidewall inward enough to instantly and completely deflate the tire.
What will be checked during safety/tech inspection?
The complete list for a technical inspection can be found in the SCCA RallyCross Rulebook here.
One rule particular to NorCal events is that all participants must have a tire pressure gauge with them. Also, all first timers running regular street tires are required to pump up their tires to about 40psi to reduce the risk of tire de-beading.
Other common items that catch people are:
- All loose items must be removed from the car
- Hub caps and other detachable trim must be removed
- Battery must be attached securely
- No excess fluid leaks
Where can I get even more questions answered?
First, check out the SCCA RallyCross Rules here.