Matthew Murtagh and The Auto X Perspective
Matthew Murtagh has been autocrossing for over 5 years. He began competing in autox in his Scion TC, and then his Scion FRS for a few seasons after that. Since May 2014, he has been competing with his STI. He’s a member of South Jersey Region SCCA, and competes at Baderfield, Atlantic City. For those unfamiliar, Baderfield is an abandoned airport that transforms into many unique courses for autox days.
Matthew competes in a street modified class with his STI, which has a built bottom end, forged pistons, rods, replaced bearings, and studs. He also has a Mishimoto radiator and a Killer B oil pan. His turbo, injectors, fuel pump, exhaust system and intake system all feature performance upgrades as well. His STI sits on KW V3 coilovers with Nitto NT-01 competition tires. Matt has had his car tuned for autox, and is making 363hp and 345tq.
Though Matthew has only been regularly attending the South Jersey region’s events, he plans to participate in other region’s events as well. He wants to compete at the MetLife Stadium events as well as competing in Nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska, where some of the biggest competitors auto x their cars.
I asked him what advice he would give to those thinking about trying autox, but who haven’t gone to an event yet. He said his advice is to just try it and to not be afraid of damaging your car. Matt told me, “These events are usually the safest and the cones rarely do damage to your car. If you do end up going, find out who the instructors are right away. Ask them to ride along with you or drive your car and ask them all the questions.”
Matt also mentioned that you don’t need a race car to be able to compete in autox. He says you can drive anything, and that there is even a Prius who comes to their events and competes. “So whatever car you have, you can still compete and have fun. Remember, you have different classes that you can compete in, so you never have to worry about a more expensive modified faster car competing against your times.”
Knowing that he once competed in autox with an FRS, I was curious about his experiences switching from a light RWD track car to a faster, heavier, AWD STI. “Well, the STI was a big learning curve. The braking was different from the 86. For example, when approaching a turn in an 86, you can brake later and then turn into the apex of the turn. The STI is heavy and under steers, so you have to brake early, turn, and then throttle.” The thing Matt says he likes most about the STI compared to the FRS is that you can save yourself with just the throttle. In the STI, you are able to brake early and then WOT out of a turn, whereas in a rear wheel drive car, you have to feather it and gradually build power or you will upset the car.
So for those who have been thinking about trying out autocross, hopefully Matt’s advice has encouraged you to try it out! You have some time while we wait for the cold winter months to pass. We know we are not the only ones waiting for spring to show up so we can all get back to going to car shows and autocross events. We’re interested to see what Matt gets into next season, and we will hopefully get a chance to link up at some events, as several of our customers will be participating this year as well!