How an Autocrosser Prepared for a Road Course

A few days ago, we heard from autocross champ Tamra Hunt about her tackling a road course for her first time. Now we hear what she did to prepare for her first experience on track.

For Tamra Hunt, two-time SCCA Solo Nationals champion, preparation for getting on track is not taken lightly. Her focus is on both car preparation, and driver preparation.

Mazda Motorsports: “Knowing how important it is to ensure you have a safe, reliable car while on track, what did you do to prep the car?”

Tamra Hunt: “It’s ideal to have a professional check over the car before putting it on track at speeds that can exceed 100 mph. Since my fiancé and I have been prepping our car for a few years, we were confident we could tackle it. We did an oil change, brake pad upgrade, brake fluid flush with high temperature racing fluid, an alignment to maximize front camber, and a general inspection of the car, in which we had a last-minute finding of one slightly leaky shock, which resulted in a last minute, full shock swap on the car to some Koni Yellows we had on hand. On the day of, we aired the tires up slightly higher than the door card recommended and didn’t touch them the entire track day. We checked our oil level a few times throughout the day, and kept an eye on coolant temps using a tablet to ensure the car handled the aggressive driving sufficiently well. It was an especially cool, damp day so the car was fine, but I could see needing a few cooling upgrades if we plan to track the car next summer.”

Mazda Motorsports: “Can you walk us through your preparation on your driving at a track you had not been to before?”

Tamra Hunt: “First, we reviewed the registration information, which gave us a heads up on which track configuration we would be running (many tracks run multiple). So, I focused on watching videos using that configuration. I had the track almost memorized before arriving.  I reviewed the rulebook. I saw that it had different clothing requirements than autocross. Road racing required long sleeves and long pants, non-polyester clothing. Also, I made sure my helmet was up to the current standards. All things you may not think of, which is why reading the information provided is critical.”

Mazda Motorsports: “With your taste of road racing, what’s next? Back to autocross or more road racing?”

Tamra Hunt: “I’m slightly obsessively researching other ways I can get on the track, in addition to autocross! Some of the things I’m looking at include going to more HPDE days to learn as much as I can, time trials in SCCA, NASA, and other regional clubs, along with steps I can take toward wheel-to-wheel racing one day. Watching the SCCA Runoffs, I see that the RX-8 is competitive in the T4 class.  Or maybe I should go back to my Miata roots and find a starter package Spec Miata. A girl can dream, right? I plan to return to Solo Nationals (autocross) for the 2019 season, but also intend to slot in some weekends for additional HPDE days and other ways to have fun with cars.

Whichever path Tamra Hunt takes, we know it will be a fruitful one.