Rallycross is an offroad motorsport designed to be accessible to amateur drivers. In the United States, rallycrosses are run primarily by the Sports Car Club of America. The SCCA uses rallycross as an entry-level motorsport, the little brother of their Pro Rally program. In other nations, "rallycross" may refer to a professional rally event not affiliated with the World Rally Championship.
How does rallycross compare to autocross? Amateur rallycross is similar in many ways to autocross, except that it does not take place on a paved surface. Instead, rallycross is run in rural areas on open fields. Also, rallycross scoring is based on a total of all runs, rather than the single fastest. For safety reasons, obstacles (such as trees) that are common in full-fledged rallies are absent in rallycross. Like in autocross, the course is marked out by road pylons, with a time penalty added for each pylon hit. Courses are unique to each event, so that no driver has had prior experience on it.
How is the competition organized? Each driver is given four runs (perhaps more) through the course. Scoring is based on the total time of these runs. To encourage competition, cars are classed according to power, all or two wheel drive, and type of tires (offroad tires versus street tires). The specifics of these classifications are left to local SCCA chapters. For example, there are often four stock classes for four-wheel and two-wheel drive vehicles above and below a certain displacement, two more classes for modified four-wheel and two-wheel drive vehicles, and another for fully-prepared rally cars. Times are compared only against other cars of the same class.
What do I need to participate in rallycross? The most important item you need is a vehicle capable of passing a rudimentary inspection before the event. This means a closed or t-top vehicle, or a convertible with hardtop equipped. Batteries and wheels must be securely attached. Seatbelts or harnesses must be functioning, and the interior must be cleaned of all items not securely fastened down. A driver will also need a driver's license and money for the entry fee. A Snell-approved helmet is required, but loaner helmets will often be available the event.
Will rallycross damage my vehicle? Like any competitive racing event, there is some chance for damage in rallycross. However, due to the safety measures taken, competing in a rallycross is generally safer than driving to the event. Damage is generally limited to flat tires or scuffed paint, but measures to protect your vehicle are recommended. These include skid plates and mud flaps, and devices such as driver's harnesses and roll cages. Remember that the chance of damage is proportional to how hard you are pushing your vehicle to perform.
In conclusion, I summarize the SCCA: "As the doorway to a Performance Rally career, RallyCross is the most cost effective way to gauge a driver's interest and aptitude for 'doing it in the dirt.' Entry fees and equipment requirements are considerably less than those necessary to enter any other forms of performance rally, so in most locations one need only arrive at event registration with a sound, hardtop vehicle and the entry fee. Best of all, it's great fun!"