About Us

Martin Sports Car Club was created in 1960 by a group of auto enthusiasts who were employees of Martin Marietta. The intent of the club was to promote the sport of Gymkhana with sports cars of the era, for the fun and enjoyment of the employees and their families. Events were held at various parking lots at the plant on the second Sunday of each month. As a special treat, the Mini Prix tradition was born, a larger autocross held twice a year in April and October. The Mini Prix evolved through many formats, at one time utilizing the perimeter road as a high-speed straightaway. Eventually the club just used extra parking lots to create a larger course that was fast and fun.

Over the years, the club has evolved into the sport of autocross, with sports cars, sedans, open wheel vehicles, karts and even trucks competing. For many years, only Martin Marietta employees were eligible for membership. As more outsiders discovered the sport, membership restrictions were relaxed to support the sport's growth.

For 41 years, events were held at the Martin Marietta facility on Sand Lake Road in Orlando. The events of 9/11 resulted in heightened security at the plant, and the club was forced to find a new home. Autocross events were moved to Brevard Community College in Palm Bay, and monthly meetings were held at various locations before settling at restaurants. In August of 2003, MSCC found a new home at the Lake County Technical Center in Tavares, where we remain today.

Members compete all year for the club championship - "Tiger of the Year" (the member who accumulates the most competition points for the year).

1966 MSCC Members

(From left to right) Al Clark, John Ramer, John Belperche, Bob Dangler, and Bill McDill in front of an Austin-Healey 100-6.
circa 1966

FAQ

What is an Autocross event?

Autocross events are low to medium speed auto racing events often run on parking lots and airport runways. Generally a course will be defined using traffic cones. One driver at a time negotiates a course laid out with the cones, or pylons, testing their skill against the clock. Time penalties are charged for disturbing cones. There is an upper speed guideline which is intended to keep speeds in a domain that most drivers might have encountered on the streets and highways; the fastest cars at an event should not get much over 70mph.

Generally, each driver takes three or four runs at an event. A driver is awarded the best time of all runs taken.

Are there other names for Autocross?

Solo II is the term the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) uses to refer to SCCA-sanctioned autocross events. Gymkhana was the term used in much of the USA during the sixties. Now the term "gymkhana" as used in the USA usually connotes a gimmick event wherein drivers have to do odd things. Autoslalom is the term used in Canada.

Who autocrosses?

Most autocrossers are driving/racing enthusiasts who enjoy motorsports competition. In fact, a large percentage of participants do not even own a "racecar"! They race the car they drive on the street. Some autocrossers are serious road race drivers who want to practice technique. Most are just regular people with an itch for speed!

Why autocross?

Autocross is an inexpensive, safe way to experience racing. It helps you discover your car's capabilities and limitations, making you a better, safer driver on the road. And it develops your own driving ability. Many would-be race drivers use it as a jump point into the sport of road racing. But probably the greatest thrill of autocross is the challenge of beating your own time. It's fun!

How much does it cost?

Costs vary by site. Typical cost for our usual location is $25-$35 dollars. The club has expenses like site rental and insurance. Costs for insurance are not insignificant in lawsuit-happy America. Keeping safe courses and speeds is important to the survival of the sport.

How do I join in the fun?

It costs almost nothing to start autocrossing, and since other cars are not on the course with you, there is almost no risk of damage to your car. To get started, just go to your nearest event. Ask questions, and if you brought your car with you, you might even be able to register and race right then and there! To find out when and where the next event is, check out the Event Forum.

Can I watch for free? Can I bring a friend?

There is no charge for spectators. Just go. You just need to sign an insurance waiver.

Do I have to join the club?

Membership in the club is not required. However, membership has its benefits; event fee discounts, newsletter subscriptions, etc.

What kind of car do I need?

Almost any car will do, as long as it passes the tech inspection. Certain "tippy" vehicles such as Jeep Wranglers or Suzuki Sidekicks are not allowed because of the increased risk of rollover. People autocross everything from modified Porsches to stock Toyota Tercels to Lincoln Town Cars!

What do I need to bring?

If your car is stock, and you intend to race it on your street tires, all you really need is your car, a helmet, a tire pressure gauge, and your entry fee. (Loaner helmets are available, and you can probably borrow a gauge.) Although a food vendor is usually available on site, you may want to pack a cooler with snacks and beverages - especially in the hotter months. It's also a good idea to bring some blue painter's tape to number your car with if you don't have magnetics. Lastly, some people like to bring folding chairs and canopies to keep both themselves and their belongings out of the sun or rain.

What kind of helmet do I need?

Any helmet with a Snell M or SA rating from the current, and two immediately preceding standards. In 2013, that would be Snell 2010, Snell 2005, or Snell 2000. The helmet can be full face, open face, or open with a chin guard.

Pay special attention to fit. The helmet should not be so tight that it brings on a headache, but it should not rattle, either. Put it on and shake your head. Your skin should travel with the helmet. The idea is that your head does not get a running start before hitting the padding.

Who will I be competing against?

Your car will be grouped in a class of comparably equipped cars to make for relatively fair competition. Until you attend three events, or you take the class win (whichever comes first) you are eligible for the novice class. If you've never autocrossed before it is highly recommended to run in the novice class first, as well as having an instructor ride along with you on your runs.

What are the different classes of competition?

Stock (S)

These cars are fairly close to cars that are driven on the street, and are usually dual purpose automobiles. Permitted modifications include any DOT-approved tire above a 140 treadwear rating, any shock that attaches to the stock mounting points, any exhaust from the catalytic converter back (subject potentially to local sound control), any brake pads, any front sway bar, any wheels of stock dimensions and offset, and addition of a race harness.

The stock class is split up into sub-classes organized by performance. They are lettered A thru H, in an approximate order of descending performance. There is also a class called Super Stock (SS). Examples of cars in A-Stock (AS) include: Porsche 911's, Turbo MR2's, etc. The most populated class appears to be C-Stock (CS), which includes Miatas and many BMW's. At other end of the spectrum, H-Stock (HS) includes cars with relatively low power-to-weight ratios like the Toyota Tercel and Honda Accord. F-stock is a class that is generally populated with the "pony cars" such as Camaros, Firebirds, and Mustangs.

Street Touring (ST)

This is a newer category of street cars modified more broadly than allowed by Street Prepared rules. It includes 4-seater sedans with specific displacement limits, aimed at cars modified using common suspension, engine, and appearance parts which are fully legal and compatible with street use anywhere in the country. Street Tires are required (DOT wear rating of 140 or better).

Street Prepared (SP)

Street Prepared cars are allowed significant modifications over stock, but many are still dual-purpose cars. Some of the permitted modifications are: any legal modification in stock; any springs that fit stock attachements; any sway bars; any wheels & DOT-approved tires; any induction for the engine (except that cars that were originally normally aspirated must remain normally aspirated); and any exhaust including headers. Compression ratio and camshafts in the engine must remain stock.

Prepared (P)

Prepared cars are allowed very substantial modifications; Prepared cars are rarely licensed for street use. Interiors may be gutted, cams and pistons are free, and suspensions may be significantly modified.

Street Modified (SM)

Street Modified is a newer category for streetable cars modified beyond Street Prepared allowances. The rules are simple, and almost anything goes. Cars must be legally registered for the street.

Modified (M)

The Modified category is split into parts. A, B, and C Modified consist of purpose-built racing cars, usually Formula Cars, Sports Racers, or "Specials". Usually these are open-wheel, single-seat cars without fenders.

D and E Modified are for very heavily modified production cars. In these classes, basically anything goes except that you must retain the original floorpan and driveline layout (a front-engined car cannot become a rear-engined car). D Modified is for cars with engines less than 2 liters, and E Modified is for cars with engines greater than 2 liters.

How should I prepare my car for a race?

Your car should be well maintained at the very least. Keep up with oil/fluid changes, brake inspections, valve adjustments, etc. One particularly important part is the timing belt. Make sure it has been changed within the recommended service period. The high revs your engine will experience in a run are likely more than an old belt can take. Check your fluid levels.

Clean out your car. Remove everything that you won't need, and take out everything you brought with you before you race. As part of the tech inspection, officials will make sure there won't be anything flying around your cabin while you're on the course. You also might want to wash your car and the engine compartment if you haven't done so in months. Embarassing!

Just before you get to the autocross site, stop at a service station and pump up your tires to 42 psi or so. It sounds high, but you will need extra air in those tires to prevent them from rolling over onto the sidewalls during hard cornering. When you get to the site, as a novice you might ask someone who looks like they know what they are doing how much air you'll probably need. Then let out the air until you've achieved that pressure. It's easier to let air out than to pump it in! (An air compressor will be available.)

What is a tech inspection?

A mandatory pre-race safety inspection of your car.

What can I expect at a tech inspection?

Cars are checked for safety at each event before your first run. Generally, this task falls to an experienced autocross driver and the inspection is friendly. Your car must have a working seat belt, a good return spring on your throttle linkage, working brakes, a securely fastened battery, tight lug nuts, well-packed bearings, no excessive play in your suspension, and an interior free of loose articles. Street tires must have measurable tread depth and no cord showing. Any street car in reasonably good condition should pass this quick inspection without any trouble.