An open-face helmet is much easier to see out of than a closed-face one when autocrossing.
When I talk about key corners, cones, and apexes, this means that these are the cones that'll matter most. On any autocross course, the majority of cones are mere decoration. They keep you within the perimeter of the course and if you venture out toward them it will only add time to your run due to the increased distance you traveled to get there. There are, however, about 10-15 key cones that are very important; these must be located and their positions locked in your memory bank. Your corner apex is the point at which the car is closest to the inside of the corner; it's the point where your car is coming in and going out. There may be a cone at that point or there may not be. Ideally, you want your car to be leaving the corner at that point or simply put, taking a late apex as this allows you to pick up throttle sooner. Keeping your eyes up and looking ahead will make picking up these key pylons easy. You'll drive smoother and won't be prone to driving "point to point." Be patient young grasshopper and you'll be rewarded with smooth, clean, and, most important, fast autocross runs.
In 1999, after 12 years off from autocross competition, I decided I would come back out and play. I was lucky enough to win myself a Pro Solo Championship that year. At the start of the '00 season, I changed from the Civic that I was running to a Camaro Z28. In an effort to learn the car and polish my skills, my girlfriend talked me into taking the Evolution School. Like most men, I thought to myself, "What are they going to teach me?" Well, I headed out anyway, and decided if I was going to spend money on learning, I was going to have an open mind about it. I'm so glad I did. Aside from breaking down the course by each element, my instructors taught me to try things I never would have thought about on my own. At the time, I felt some of the things they were asking me to do were quite awkward, but upon my ride home, I realized they were really just things that I do every day. The difference being, we don't drive every day on a giant piece of Tarmac lined with cones.
You can be the best driver in the world but once you're taken off the road and put into an autocross environment, you tend to fixate on the end of the hood, thus, everything sneaks up on you. So, one of the most important things that Evolution teaches you is the art of "looking ahead." We all do it every day. We don't take that favorite exit ramp and stare at the end of the hood. We look way around the corner. That same thing even applies to driving in traffic. We don't stare at the car in front of us, we look through that car to see what's going on in front of them. So by having the students start looking far ahead, we find everything becomes smoother, the corrections become much smaller, and the times start to drop.
For me, it wasn't just some driving school I took, but a whole new approach to the skills I already had. Evolution helped refine my driving and the results followed. Within two years of taking the classes, I was instructing, and am now one of the owners. It's very rare you're able to do something in life you love for a living, and I am thankful every day for this. If you've ever thought about going to driving school but thought it was too expensive or thought, "What can they teach me?" Well my friends, come on out to an Evo School. We'll refine your skills and do it for a very reasonable price. Go check out our website and look for a school in your area. You won't be disappointed!
Hope to see you there!
Mike "Junior" Johnson
Evolution Performance Driving School