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A cross car on a Czech autocross course

Autocross is a form of motorsport in which competitors are timed to complete a short course using automobiles on a dirt or grass surface, excepting where sealed surfaces are used in United States. Rules vary according to the governing or sanctioning body, such as the length of the course, the amount of permitted attempts, or whether competitors start the course individually at intervals or at the same time as others. In this latter form, Autocross differs from other forms of motor racing by using a system of heats or alternative timing methods for the classification rather than racing for position and declaring the first across the finish line as the winner.[1][2][3]

Autocross began in the United Kingdom in the early 1950s at an amateur level within local motor clubs using temporary courses marked on grassy fields to not cause damage to any cars.[4][5] The creator of rallycross, Robert Reed, wanted a version of autocross with more spectator-appeal to be made for television, using professional racing and rally drivers and teams; and courses featuring jumps, sharper corners and a mixture of sealed and unsealed surfaces.[6]

United States' Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) includes its autocross events and championships within its Solo branded time trial series. The National Auto Sport Association brands its version of autocross as NASA-X, both take place on sealed surfaces.[7][8] With the necessity for precision manoeuvring these have more in common with what is called Autotesting or Autoslalom elsewhere.[9] Meanwhile, the SCCA's branded RallyCross has more in common with autocross than rallycross as the terms are known in the rest of the world.[10]

As an entry-level motorsport autocross provides a stepping stone for drivers looking to move into other competitive and possibly expensive forms of racing (such as rallying, rallycross and circuit racing).[citation needed]

Autocross courses can be as short as 800 metres or several kilometres long.[1][11] Courses may be temporary and marked by traffic cones which can be reconfigured during events, or be permanent tracks with approval by a motorsport body.

Events typically have many classes that allow almost any vehicle, from production touring cars to purpose-built racing cars. The international body for autocross, the FIA, and the French body, FFSA, both provide technical specifications for cross cars, lightweight buggy cars.[12][13]


A Swift GTI participating in an Australian autocross event

Australian Autocross was sanctioned by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, which defined it as a speed event held on a dirt course less than two kilometres long. Eligible vehicles ranged from standard road-going cars through to purpose-built buggies to full racing or rallying-prepared machines. Drivers could begin competing at the age of 14 and must have held a recognised racing licence, which was usually obtainable on the day through the hosting club.[14]

United States[edit]

A 1970 Corvette participating in an autocross

American autocross events (also called "Solo", Auto-x" or "Autoslalom") are typically held on flat, paved surfaces such as parking lots or airport tarmacs, and usually have a new course for each event, marked by traffic cones.[15][16]

Autocross is one of the most accessible and affordable forms of motorsport, and autocross events are open to novices. Because autocross events use rubber traffic cones to define the course, and are typically run on paved surfaces with few obstructions, the hazards and barriers to entry are low. While speeds are generally no greater than those encountered in legal highway driving, the combination of concentration and precision manoeuvring gives drivers an experience similar to that of a full road course race. [17]

Autocross courses are made from traffic cones
Drivers must navigate a series of turns defined by traffic cones

Competitors range from casual participants driving their commuter vehicles, to dedicated competitors driving purpose-built cars with special tires. There are classes accommodating varying degrees of car modification, as well as classes specifically for women and children.[18]

Many events are open to spectators. Many local car clubs offer autocross novice driving schools to help drivers feel comfortable before a regular event.

The SCCA National Championship is held in September in the Midwest. Currently (2019 and prior) held in Lincoln, Nebraska. Entries are in the range of 1,200 drivers. The event takes place over 4 days with half the drivers competing on the first two days and half the last two days. Two different courses are driven with winners determined by combining best times from both courses. It is considered the largest amateur motorsport racing event in the world.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, autocrosses are typically held on a grass or stubble surface. Cars compete individually against the clock, although more than one car may start at the same time if the circuit is long enough and wide enough. Because the course is usually bumpy and there is a risk of contact with other cars, most competitors use specially prepared cars (which vary from very inexpensive to specially engineered racers) brought on trailers. Events are usually held on a region-wide basis, with Motorsport UK overseeing rules and regulations.

Some people choose to start singularly, particularly if they compete in a rally car. The sport is relatively low risk as there is or should be nothing to hit. However, if you wish, you may do double car starts. Most people opt for this, although some competitors choose to do 3 and 4 car starts whilst still competing against the clock.


The British autocross began in the early 1950s when clubs organized timed runs around courses set on farmers' fields.[19] By 1954, Taunton MC organized the first ever autocross series in the United Kingdom. This, however, was only repeated in 1959 when the club was awarded the permit to hold the British National Autocross event.[19] Shortly, thereafter, the sporting event caught on and, by 1963, the ASWMC Autocross Championship was finally launched.

Presently, there are many local clubs which host across the UK, although the main regions hosting Autocross events are: AEMC for East Anglia, ANECCC - North East, and, the ASWMC for the South-West region. The ASWMC, for its part, now has 13 different Championships, which attract around 250 contenders each year.[20] The regional autocross events also have different formats. For instance, the South West follows the traditional two-car start, except for the 4 abreast Sandocross that used to run at Weston-Super-Mare, while the North East region involves 4-car autocross.[21]

FIA European Autocross Championship[edit]

Start of a final of the 2004 German Autocross Championship round at the Estering at Buxtehude

Cars compete against the clock, and start at the same time. A well attended international series is the FIA European Championship for Autocross Drivers.

The FIA European Autocross Championship is a racing competition held on natural terrain circuits with unsealed surfaces ranging from 800 to 1,400 metres in length. Up to 10 cars race simultaneously in qualifying heats, followed by two semi-finals and a final race. It features different categories for "buggies", including SuperBuggy, Buggy1600, and JuniorBuggy. Events also host rounds of the FIA European Cross Car Championship and FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy for younger drivers aged between 13 and 16 years old.[22]

FIA European Autocross Championship was established as an FIA European Cup in 1977 and was upgraded to an FIA European Championship in 1982. Since 2021, a selection of the ten FIA European Autocross Championship events also host rounds of the FIA European Cross Car Championship (7 competitions in 2022) and the FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy (5 competitions in 2022, reserved for drivers aged 13 to 16).[23]

The championship is run on circuits on natural terrain, with any type of unsealed surface, from 800 to 1,400 metres in length. Autocross races involve a maximum of 10 cars on track simultaneously and consist of a succession of qualifying heats leading to two semi-finals and a final.[23]

The championship has a series of events throughout the year in various locations. For example, in 2022, the events were held in places like Seelow, Vilkyčiai, Nová Paka, Saint-Georges-de-Montaigu, Přerov, Saint-Igny de Vers, Maggiora, and Mollerussa.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "European Autocross Championship". Federation Internationale de l'Automobile. 2015-01-22. Retrieved 2024-03-21.
  2. ^ "Autocross - Motorsport UK - The beating heart of UK motorsport". Motorsport UK. Retrieved 2024-03-21.
  3. ^ "Autocross". Retrieved 2024-03-21.
  4. ^ Stephenson, Sallie (1991). Autocross Racing. New York, USA: Crestwood House. p. 19. ISBN 9780896866928.
  5. ^ "Chesham Driver in Great Form". Bucks Examiner. United Kingdom. 19 March 1954. p. 6.
  6. ^ Carrick, Peter (1971). All Hell and Autocross - more Hell and Rallycross. London: Pelham. p. 37. ISBN 9780720704631.
  7. ^ "PROGRAMS - Autocross - What Is Autocross?". Sports Car Club of America. Retrieved 2024-03-22.
  8. ^ Kunzman, Jerry. CLUB CODES AND REGULATIONS (PDF). National Auto Sport Association.
  9. ^ "PROGRAMS - Autocross - What Is Autocross? - How Do I Autocross?". Sports Car Club of America. Retrieved 2024-03-22.
  10. ^ "PROGRAMS - RallyCross - What Is RallyCross?". Sports Car Club of America. Retrieved 2024-03-22.
  11. ^ e.V, DMSB-Deutscher Motor Sport Bund (2024-04-27). "Autocross - DMSB e.V." (in German). Retrieved 2024-03-21.
  12. ^ "REGULATIONS FIA EUROPEAN AUTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP". Federation Internationale de l'Automobile. Retrieved 2024-03-21.
  13. ^ "Cross Car". RaceDepartment. 2021-12-06. Retrieved 2024-03-21.
  14. ^ Standing Regulations for 2009 (PDF). Australia: Victorian Club Autocross Series. 2009. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  15. ^ "What is SOLO? | Atlanta Region SCCA". Archived from the original on 2017-06-22. Retrieved 2015-02-10.
  16. ^ "About Autocross". Archived from the original on 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2015-02-10.
  17. ^ "How do I Autocross? - Sports Car Club of America". Archived from the original on 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  18. ^ "What is Autocross? - Sports Car Club of America". Archived from the original on 2016-04-02. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  19. ^ a b "Autocross - ASWMC". ASWMC. Archived from the original on 2020-10-28. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  20. ^ "ASWMC | Association of South Western Motor Clubs". ASWMC. Archived from the original on 2018-06-23. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  21. ^ "Autocross Events - UK Autocross". Archived from the original on 2020-11-11. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  22. ^ "European Autocross Championship". 22 January 2015. Archived from the original on 22 November 2023. Retrieved 14 November 2023.
  23. ^ a b c "European Autocross Championship". 6 March 2023. Archived from the original on 2 December 2023. Retrieved 11 March 2024.