Autocross events are a great way to satisfy your need for speed. All you need to set up an autocross course is an empty parking lot and a collection of road cones, so car clubs are able to hold autocross events in most cities across the country. Additionally, autocross racing is all about agility — you'll be racing around tight corners at low speeds. That means you don't need a high-horsepower sports car to be competitive. However, there are a number of handling modifications you need to make your car more nimble.
Installing a set of quality performance tires is the best way to improve the way your car handles on an autocross course. No matter how much you modify your suspension system, your car will still spin out easily if you don't have a set of grippy tires. Performance tires are also much cheaper than an aftermarket suspension setup, so they're by far the most cost-effective way to shave seconds off of your lap times. Contact a tire shop like Evans Tire & Service Centers for advice on the best tires for your needs.
Performance Springs and Shocks
Once you have a good set of tires under your car, it's time to invest in your suspension system. Start with a quality set of performance springs and shocks. Performance springs are shorter than your stock units, so they'll lower the body of your car closer to the ground. That puts your car's center of gravity closer to the pavement and makes it handle more nimbly. Performance springs are also stiffer than stock units, so you'll experience less body roll when you're navigating around tight turns.
You also need a set of performance shocks to compensate for the stiffer springs. Your stock shocks won't be stiff enough to properly dampen the motion of your performance springs, which will cause your car to bounce up and down excessively. Performance shocks offer increased damping and rebound settings to keep your stiffer springs in check. Additionally, many performance shocks feature knobs that allow you to adjust how stiff they are. That gives you the chance to experiment with different settings so that you can achieve the fastest lap times possible.
Lowering your car changes its suspension geometry — your wheels will sit at a different angle relative to your car's chassis, which is referred to as the camber angle. You need to install an aftermarket camber kit along with your performance springs and shocks so that you can realign your wheels properly.
Aftermarket camber kits bolt in place of your car's stock camber arms and give you a wider range of adjustability. Once you have your camber kit installed, take your car to a tire alignment shop. Tell them you intend to use your car for autocross racing and that you want the maximum amount of grip possible. That way, they won't use your car's stock alignment settings. They'll generally add negative camber to give your tires the maximum contact patch possible when racing around turns.
Aftermarket Anti-Roll Bars
Complete your autocross suspension setup with a set of aftermarket anti-roll bars. Anti-roll bars stiffen up your chassis by connecting the left wheels to the right ones. Aftermarket anti-roll bars are thicker and stiffer than stock units, so they'll further minimize the amount of body roll you experience while racing around the autocross course.
Have Fun Racing
You don't need an expensive sports car to achieve good lap times on an autocross course. Even economy cars with performance tires and aftermarket suspension setups can be competitive. However, try not to get too caught up in outperforming other drivers. Simply focus on learning your car's handling characteristics and improving your own driving skills. That's the best way to have fun on the autocross course.