Triad Club Begins Autocross Season
This weekend, a group of sports car enthusiasts from around the Triad will converge on Winston-Salem this weekend for the first autocross of the season.
The Triad Sports Car Club is holding its first autocross of the season this Sunday at the LJVM Coliseum. The cars will range from someone’s commuter Honda to another’s highly modified BMW. The goal is to drive your car through a small track marked by orange traffic cones faster than anyone else driving a similar vehicle, or at least faster than your previous attempts.
John Byrd of Davidson, NC began autocrossing 40 years ago as a college student with an old Opal. “Basically it's a low-speed driving competition," he explains. "You drive through a pre-determined course marked by traffic cones in a venue like the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds, or at a large parking lot. We drive through for the fastest time. The top speeds we get may be 50 or 60 miles an hour, but as tight as the courses are, it’s almost as if you were driving 120 miles on the highway or on a racetrack.”
Byrd says when he started, he wanted to be a race car driver. But over the years he became a ‘pure autocrosser.’ He’s participated in national events through the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), and is a licensed safety steward. “Each course is set up with safety in mind. It’s designed so if you lose control, you don’t hit anything. The worst thing that could happen is you’d hit a traffic cone, that’s it. We scrutinize the course ahead of time, and make sure it’s safe.”
Zorn O’Reilly’s first SCCA event was the Triad club’s unique 24-hour autocross last fall. He said he wasn’t interested in competing, but found autocrossing an economical and fun way to enjoy his car. “I have a sports car, and very rarely do you have the opportunity to push it to its limits. So I figured I would come out here and see what it would do.”
Though the sport is made up predominately of men, some women compete, too. The club also has a commitment to helping create better drivers. Byrd is part of the national Street Survival organization that teaches teenagers how to drive safely. He says at his age, autocrossing keeps him driving younger. “I think this is one of the greatest sports in the world, it’s not for everybody, but if somebody’s listening to me right now and has any interest, come on out. Whether you’re going fast or not, I think you’ll have fun. And I think it makes you a better driver out on the highway and a safer driver, and god knows, that’s what we’re all about.”
Registration for the Triad Sports Car Club’s autocross event ends Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m., with the first car off the starting line at 10. More information is available at http://www.auto-x.com/.