How hard will autocrossing be on my car?

Thinking of taking up autocrossing as a sport. From what I understand, this involves driving around a short coned track at speeds of no more than about 50mph. Plenty of braking, accelerating, and hard turns. First or second gear most of the time.

Would probably be a couple of events a month, at most, say several times around the track each event.

Car in question is a 2006 Mazda6 with 65,000 miles. Bought used from a rental company at 19,000 miles. Transmission was replaced at 50,000 miles. Other than that, no real problems. One dead battery not long after I bought it. Tires replaced at 35,000 miles. One flat tire just AFTER replacing them :(. Current tires will probably have to be replaced in the next 5K miles or so. Still has the original brake pads.

I realize that I will be buying brake pads and tires more frequently than I’ve been used to. However, how hard is this on things like transmission, motor, and expensive suspension parts?

P.S. The autocrossers at the meeting I was present at assured me no problem, but I’d like to see what you all think.


Note to self: do not buy a used Mazda on craigslist from “scrabbler”.


I wouldn’t do it with my car, unless I had already modified the suspension and budgeted a large amount for repairs.

Expect hard wear on all components, you’ll either be at full throttle or full braking much of the time. When you’re not, you’re going around a corner at the limit of your tires’ capabilities. That’s all very hard on brakes, transmission, tires, and suspension. I wouldn’t pick an ex-rental Mazda 6, it’ll be pretty floppy through the corners, I’d think.

Have you spectated at a few events and wandered around the pits? You’ll get a lot more information that way.

You might even get somebody to give you a ride. That’s the only way to start to understand what will happen to your car.

If it were me, I’d probably pick up a beater to do it in, but realistically I don’t really see doing it occasionally being much worse than driving in rush hour traffic.

I think you will find your competitors will arrive at events with their cars on trailers. There is a reason for that…They will be happy to accept your entry fees while you tear up your car…

Just to clarify: Are you asking what the impact of autocross will have on a daily commuter car that you depend on for your work commute?

Before you try this, see how many other drivers bring their autocross car on a trailer. Ask they why they’re not driving their daily commuter car in the autocross.

I don’t think it will be too bad on your car. I know a few people who ran autocross and don’t recall them having any issues. The season in my area was six months, one meet a month, depending on the number of cars they ran the course anywhere from 2-6 times. I think the fun factor outweighs concern for possible issues.

As long as you keep the car maintained, your car will still be in better shape than 90% of the cars out there that don’t autocross. I’ll echo others who recommend maybe getting another car to do this in, not so much because of wear issues, but because a Mazda 6, especially with an automatic transmission isn’t the ideal choice. The handling is decent for what it is, but most other vehicle there will probably run circles around you. Try to find a manual transmission Miata, GTI or even a Neon.

If you have a partner you might have more fun rally racing, but you need a tach and a tiptick, but you may have those already?
If you autocross you can expect to need more in the way of tires, brakes, clutch work etc. than if you drive rally style. I had a friend who liked to do both with his tr3, but that was a long time ago, and I recall him doing a lot of work on that car after driving motorcross, but after rally racing not so much.

“assured me no problem” rofl!!!

There is such a thing as driving a car hard and not abusing it. As you seem to be aware, you should be willing to replace some components at a faster rate. Taking corners at speed on pavement is no where near as hard on a car as taking corners at even less speed on rough surfaces. I’ve seem people normally abuse a car more than than you would doing autocrossing by driving hard over rough roads. In controlled paved environments, cars are great fun. Not only that, but learning the limits of yourself and your car, makes you a much safer driver otherwise I feel. Enjoy !

The more serious you get, the harder it will be to autocross with this car. High mileage tires don’t have the traction needed for this activity. You need high performance tires. That could mean replacing your tires every 25,000 miles or so, or getting another set of rims with the sticky tires on them. Your suspension is not stiff enough, and you might want to change that. If you do, the car will be more uncomfortable. What you really want is a Lotus. Since you can’t afford one, you need to make your car as much like a Lotus as you can. A Lotus is not a daily driver; mostly because it is not comfortable for commuting. A friend long a go autocrossed with his Alfa Romeo (I told you it was long ago), and he put high performance tires on it. He needed new tires every 20,000 miles, but that’s what he liked.

I think this would be a good application for those performance brakes from Brembo or Stop-Tec, perhaps even a turbo kit would help a bit. But you’re looking at atleast 2 grand for EACH of those. Actually, 07 was the last year of the Speed6, so you might be able to find a used one if you look hard enough. That’ll be more ideal than your current Mazda 6

Hi all,

Thanks for the responses. One comment: There are a couple of reasons I want to use my car: 1) One purpose for this is learning how my car handles at its limits. Getting another car kind of defeats that purpose 2) A second car is expensive in terms of initial cost and insurance. Not sure if it would be worth it in terms of saving this car, which, remember, is already close to six years old. BTW, at the meeting the autocrossers strongly recommended watching, going on ride-alongs, and having someone ride with me, so yes, that will be the way I learn if I take it up.

As for modifications–their recommendation was, no modifications until I really worked on my own skills.

A 7 year old child who talks a lot would tell you to stop if he rode with you at an event. Since you may not even be allowed to have the 7 year old in the car for safety reasons, that should tell you something. Any driving that would injure a child will also injure the car. How much? It could be expensive plus towing.

They were my feelings exactly. I’m harder on my suspension components commuting on my dirt road all excessive speeds. It’s shock loads at extreme articulation of components that put them at risk. Otherwise, it’s just tires, brake pads, clutch or transmission components. A little over maintenance here, helps a lot and like we’ve both said, you’ll be head and shoulders above the rest of us on the road in normal driving with your regular practice in a car you drive competitively. That’s why competitive automotive drivers may be among the safest people on the road…when not competing. In our group, some of the safest recreational sailors are the ones with racing experience and so on.

Your approach to exploring this hobby is excellent. Going to the meetings, gong on ride-alongs, talking with autocross racers, etc it the absolute best way to find out.

The bottom line is that your Mazda 6 is a great car, but it isn’t designed for racing. If you race it, you’ll end up beating the crap out of it. You’ll learn your own capabilities, which is a good thing, but the car’s use as a daily driver will wane before it’s time.

But I have to admit that autocross is the best way to get the feel of racing. At least you’re racing only against the clock and around cones rather than agsinst and around other cars. You can go your own speed.

Now if you could pick up an Elise…then you’d REALLY have some fun!

Do you have access to mass transit so you can still get to work when the car isn’t drivable?

My car is 12 years old and has almost 190,000 miles on it, and I wouldn’t do this to my car. How often do you replace your cars?

With all due respect, dagosa, are race drivers really safer? I bet they get more tickets.

Just like in any common driving situation, safety has more to do with maturity than anything else. To be a successful competitor, a high level of maturity is a must. There are the “wild bunch” as in any activity…but as a group, yes.

I wonder how we can tout the value of used police Crown Vic on one hand that’s literally abused everyday but properly maintained, but degrade the value of a well maintained autocross vehicle, used well within it’s limits in a controlled environment while the cruisers is often used beyond it’s. An environment with little chance for collision, pot holes, washboard roads and unintended, emergency changes of direction and performance. The worse possible abuse to a car often occurs during uncontrolled circumstances; that’s not the case with autocrossers.