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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have a pretty active autocross/solo II venue here in San Diego and I am going to enter our Fiat 500c 5 spd this year in a few races to see how it, or I can fare. Not sure whether I or the car will be the limiting factor :) It is not the optimal Fiat 500 for autocross given the Cabrio body style and additional weight, but what the heck. This is all about having some fun, not becoming the next Michael Schumacher.

Anybody race autocross/solo II in the Fiat 500 yet? I am not a stranger to racing and setting up a car, boat, kart or motorcycle for racing and have raced a number of things that have wheels, motors or sails on pavement, dirt and water. If you have autocrossed the Fiat 500, the questions I have are:

- Did you run in H Stock (HS)? Was the car actually competitive against the Mini's, 3 series BMW's, Honda's, etc.?
- Recommendations on starting tire pressure? I am running 17" x 7.5" wheels with a 205/40 tire. My thought was to start with 45 PSI front and 37 PSI rear. I have stock suspension by the way. Hopefully the aftermarket wheel and tire size wont bump me up a class.
- Was it worth pulling out the spare tire, jack, emptying the glove box, or anything else to save weight? Maybe more to the point, is the car competitive enough in its class to go to the trouble of spending a day to disassemble it in order to save 30-40 lbs?
- Did you run a full tank of gas, or run empty to best balance the car?
- Can you provide any specific settings for front end alignment changes you made?
- I am assuming you wound the motor up, but did you try short shifting the car?
- Did you run quicker with traction control (ESC) on or off?
- Any other technical tips or driving techniques for the Fiat that might help?

Thanks in advance. I will report back in a few weeks with the results, good or bad, and any tips I can pass on to anybody wanting to give it a go.
 

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Thanks much Tweak.
Hope it helps some, not many going the autocross route it seems, look forward to seeing what you think of it after you give it a shot, the RRM rear sway when it hits the market will help if you don't want to make any major suspension changes and only wish to improve on it, not sure how the upgrade affects your classification though if at all. Pretty sure the ECU tuner would change some things in that area though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The rear sway bar may be just the ticket, if it does not push the car up into another class. I am still unclear as to which class the car would actually run in, what mods are allowed and who the competition is, but I am just starting my research now and reading the SCCA rule book. Maybe we have a member who is an SCCA driver and can shed some light on what class would be best to run in and what mods are allowed. In most of the classes it appears that the car could fall in it faces pretty stiff competition. The short wheelbase and light weight will help quite a bit on the tight, twisty autocross type courses. The last car I autocrossed was a mostly stock 67 Mini Cooper S, but that was a couple of decades ago. The car cleaned up (more about the car than the driver).

The Fiat seems to have a high center of gravity and has a fair amount of body lean, although it does not seem to want to do anything strange, like lift an inside rear wheel. Surprisingly also, it does not understeer too badly for front wheel drive. I suspect that lowering the car and stiffening up spring rates and shock dampening would increase the understeer, but reduce the body lean significantly. I have noticed that the harder you push the car the more it seems to settle into its suspension, provided you stay smooth through the transitions. In any case, this is just an exercise in fun. I don't intend to quit my day job:)
 

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It might be nice to be able to defeat the ESC. I noticed from playing in the snow that the ESC is not really 100% off if you hit the button. I wonder if is defeatable in some secret way like my Magnum? I always found it fun to give the car the "scandanavian flick" and rotate a little before certian corners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The Scandanavian Flick. As a Norwegian, I like it! You got to love the Finn's and all their rally world championships. There is no wilder kind of racing. If all else fails I'll try the rally technique and let you know how many pylons I wipe out.
 

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I'd say the biggest thing would be to get the center of gravity down (lowering), lightening un-sprung weight, and stiffening the suspension components. I'd say stock-for-stock, you're going to be out classed by a Mini Cooper S so do whatever you can to avoid moving up in to another class.
 

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The rear sway bar may be just the ticket, if it does not push the car up into another class. I am still unclear as to which class the car would actually run in, what mods are allowed and who the competition is, but I am just starting my research now and reading the SCCA rule book. Maybe we have a member who is an SCCA driver and can shed some light on what class would be best to run in and what mods are allowed. In most of the classes it appears that the car could fall in it faces pretty stiff competition. The short wheelbase and light weight will help quite a bit on the tight, twisty autocross type courses. The last car I autocrossed was a mostly stock 67 Mini Cooper S, but that was a couple of decades ago. The car cleaned up (more about the car than the driver).

The Fiat seems to have a high center of gravity and has a fair amount of body lean, although it does not seem to want to do anything strange, like lift an inside rear wheel. Surprisingly also, it does not understeer too badly for front wheel drive. I suspect that lowering the car and stiffening up spring rates and shock dampening would increase the understeer, but reduce the body lean significantly. I have noticed that the harder you push the car the more it seems to settle into its suspension, provided you stay smooth through the transitions. In any case, this is just an exercise in fun. I don't intend to quit my day job:)
WLDTOPO
I am an SCCA driver and drive a spec Miata. I own hot www.HotFIAT.com and have a keen interest in racing a Fiat 500. I have spoken to the SCCA couple of times about the spec B race cars and they seem to have very little information about this race series even though the 1st article I read was written in their own monthly publication.
There is someone on Fiat USA who has been auto crossing their 500. (With numerous 1st place finishes. Try to find him. The more you guys learn in autoX the quicker the ramp up when we get to road racing.
Best of luck, kick some butt our there and keep us posted.
Rick Hartbrodt
www.HotFIAT.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks HotFiat. I was finally able to get in touch with an SCCA official and he stated that the Fiat 500 has not yet been approved by the SCCA for autocross/Solo classification. According to the SCCA guy I talked with It may be a while before the information needed (regarding the cars true center of gravity) is obtained and reviewed and the car is able to compete in an SCCA autocross/Solo event, at least in Stock classes. I guess they want to know what to expect when some yoohoo slaps on a set of sticky race compound tires on a stock suspension car and sees how hard he can turn right after a long straight :) This does not mean that the car cannot compete in a non-SCCA event. The SCCA guy gave me some good referrals to other clubs. By the way, the SCCA classification issue does not apply to the spec B road racing cars and the rules appear to have been published for that class already. It looks like you can take a bone stock Fiat 500 and convert it to an SCCA spec B car for about $10k. This is going to be a fun, fun class. More news as I get it.
 

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Yes apparently SCCA has rules for Spec B but they do not have a class set up for it yet. At least they didn't last I spoke with them 2 months ago. Hopefully when the 2012 season gets going they will have something.
 

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My guess is if they approve the car for Autocross it will be an HStock car...the only changes you can make are drop in air filter, tires (you can run R-comps in stock and unless your region is running a designated Street Tire Stock Class you won't be competitive unless you do), you can also do two way adjustable shocks (koni yellows), Front sway bar and alignment. What you can't do in stock - Rear Sway, Springs, Intake, Chip or Remap, put not standard sized wheels or anything else that is not factory (or maybe port) installed. I think it would be hard for the 500 to compete with a Mini Cooper, which is the H Stock king.
 

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I have had the same questions as you do about the Fiat Sport. Not all of us own an Arbath so all the info you asking for is spot on. I have asked alot of the same questions on other forums and have never received any replys. i was wondering if you got any of your questions answered since your post any where else? I am having a **** of a time getting my local region here in Savanaha GA to even let me run my 500. I did take the 500 to a track day at Roabling Road which is a 2 1/2 mile road course at for what it is I HAD A BLAST! So any info you can give me if you got any would really help me. Thanks
 

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In Stock you can run slightly wider wheels (1/2" IIRC) and slight track increase (5mm spacers or offset change??)

But the Fiat 500 non-Abarth will not be classed in Stock due to the stability equation. It does not meet the SCCA requirements. The Abarth IS classed in Stock, due to the lower ride height.

The non-Abarth can be run in Street Touring. Which allows some more mods, but "street" tires only.
 

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Ive started autocrossing my 2013 Abarth and am in G stock. I'm running completely stock and intend to use up the 17" Pirellis before going to a Toyo, B F Goodrich or other tire. Ive taken two driver schools so far and am running in the top of the "newbees" but way off from the veterans. I've had 2 instructors drive my car with me shotgun and realize that it has great potential. When I'm driving it close to their times I will start working on modifying the car. Right now I feel like my "best bang for the buck" as far as lowering my times is to work on the driver. Hence, driver schools, practice days and events. I run in sport mode with esc turned off. As far as the newbees go I've beat Bimmers, a brand spankin new stock Porsche (6 cyl), several 1600 and 1800 stock Miatas and a few Minis with at least visible suspension mods and probably some engine mods too. Fairly confident that the Bimmers and Porsche would kick butt on an Abarth with any of the instructors in them. . . but not sure about the minis. One of my instructors crosses a mini but it's modified to the max. . . seems like he spends as much time on track on three wheels as on four. When he climbed in the right side of the Abarth he said he'd always wanted to drive "one of these things". Last thing he said before he climbed out was, [email protected]#m that was fun! If you plan on buying a 500 sport and autocrossing it beware! Our club won't allow showroom stock 500s. They would have to at least be lowered and have wider wheels and tires to pass the gravity equation. Once you do that you aren't in HS anyway so you may as well do more suspension mods and engine mods. At this point the question is: Do you run a 500 sport or buy a 500 sport turbo? Either way you will have to modify the suspension before it will be allowed on most autocross tracks. So you are going to dump some more $ to prep it to even be allowed on the track. For under $24,000 you can get an Abarth with factory optional 17" wheels and Pirelli 205s and you're ON THE TRACK running GS and having a blast. The Abarth comes with beefier axles, and other components and can easily be modified to 200 plus hp with a screwdriver and a little box with some wires and en electrical connector attached to it. With the Abarth if you want to open up the engine you can pretty easily get it to produce 265 hp with a cam and a few other mods. You'll have to work harder and spend more to get that outta a 500 sport. I may be wrong but I'm of the belief that a well prepared 500 sport (springs, coil-overs, bars front and rear, head work, cam, valves, exhaust, intake etc) would outpace a STOCK Abarth (same track, same driver) on a curvy autocross track.
 

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Ive started autocrossing my 2013 Abarth and am in G stock. I'm running completely stock and intend to use up the 17" Pirellis before going to a Toyo, B F Goodrich or other tire. Ive taken two driver schools so far and am running in the top of the "newbees" but way off from the veterans. I've had 2 instructors drive my car with me shotgun and realize that it has great potential. When I'm driving it close to their times I will start working on modifying the car. Right now I feel like my "best bang for the buck" as far as lowering my times is to work on the driver. Hence, driver schools, practice days and events. I run in sport mode with esc turned off. As far as the newbees go I've beat Bimmers, a brand spankin new stock Porsche (6 cyl), several 1600 and 1800 stock Miatas and a few Minis with at least visible suspension mods and probably some engine mods too. Fairly confident that the Bimmers and Porsche would kick butt on an Abarth with any of the instructors in them. . . but not sure about the minis. One of my instructors crosses a mini but it's modified to the max. . . seems like he spends as much time on track on three wheels as on four. When he climbed in the right side of the Abarth he said he'd always wanted to drive "one of these things". Last thing he said before he climbed out was, [email protected]#m that was fun! If you plan on buying a 500 sport and autocrossing it beware! Our club won't allow showroom stock 500s. They would have to at least be lowered and have wider wheels and tires to pass the gravity equation. Once you do that you aren't in HS anyway so you may as well do more suspension mods and engine mods. At this point the question is: Do you run a 500 sport or buy a 500 sport turbo? Either way you will have to modify the suspension before it will be allowed on most autocross tracks. So you are going to dump some more $ to prep it to even be allowed on the track. For under $24,000 you can get an Abarth with factory optional 17" wheels and Pirelli 205s and you're ON THE TRACK running GS and having a blast. The Abarth comes with beefier axles, and other components and can easily be modified to 200 plus hp with a screwdriver and a little box with some wires and en electrical connector attached to it. With the Abarth if you want to open up the engine you can pretty easily get it to produce 265 hp with a cam and a few other mods. You'll have to work harder and spend more to get that outta a 500 sport. I may be wrong but I'm of the belief that a well prepared 500 sport (springs, coil-overs, bars front and rear, head work, cam, valves, exhaust, intake etc) would outpace a STOCK Abarth (same track, same driver) on a curvy autocross track.
I echo your thought that the first thing to improve is... the DRIVER. When I took the Abarth Track Experience included with my purchase, I was aghast at the fact that about 10% of the participants had past experience in autocross, often with 1970's-vintage FIATs. They were SOOOO much better than me in the FIAT-provided Abarths that I was convinced that there was the area of greatest improvement. Sort of like working on the skill of the pianist rather than the brand of the piano... as a pianist, I find that even the concert Steinway's and Boesendorfers still play wrong notes when *I* play them!
 

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How are you guys getting your cars thru tech, OR is this not scca? the only class a NON FIAT ABARTH is legal in is STC and it has to be lowered 2 inches to pass tech for that , Im asking because I emailed the SCCA personaly to get this info,I am a member of SCCA GRR region thanks
 
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