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post #1 of 192 (permalink) Old 11-27-2010, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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The Ultimate Road Trip

Some of you may have seen my posts a few months ago about insurance in the US for my Australian Elise. As the end of 2010 draws near, I thought I would provide an update on my trip to the US and Canada in early 2012. My car cannot leave Australia before May 2011 because I am on the organising committee of the National Biennial Australian Lotus Meet to be held in Queensland at Easter 2011, and as I need to be well on the road in the US before May in order to hit the right weather, that means the trip cannot be started till 2012. However, that leaves me time to perpare the car (and myself !) properly, even though it is a bit frustrating !

First of all you need to know my car. A 1999 standard S1 Elise, bought new from Bell & Colvill in the UK after a 2 year wait (that was standard in 1997 !). Car christened Elsie after dyslexic family misread her name when new, and Elsie she has stayed. Lived in Scotland for 3 years, during which time drove all over Europe, tracked it, enjoyed it. Shipped it back to Perth, Australia in 2004, sprinted and autocrossed it, then moved to Queensland, driving the car across from Perth. I had throat cancer in 2007 (3 years out and still clear ) and while sick had all sorts of engine mods done in search of more power. Once back on track, took most of them off again (except suspension, bigger valves and cams) as it ruined the car for me, and didn't make me much slower ! More tracking and hill climbing, long drives all over Eastern Australia (2 weeks ago did some 5000 kilometres in 6 days down in the Victorian high country). Currently having a very good 2010 - Am 2010 Queensland Hill Climb champ in my class (Marque Sports Cars 1601 - 2000 cc), and currently hold the class record at two hill climbs and a sprint circuit in Queensland. But after some 45 years of racing, and being 63 years young, have decided I need a different challenge, so next Sat / Sun is my last hill climb when hopefully I can close out the local title for the year, and now I have decided to drive Elsie to Alaska. Why ? Because, thats why ! I have also been involved in the Australian Elise community, being in at the start up of Aussie Elises when 3 of us Aussies who all knew each other in Europe all shipped our cars back to Aus at about the same time in 2004, and found no existing Elise fraternity here, so we were the foundation members of Aussie Elises. I try to meet up with other Aussie Elisers whenever I travel interstate. So that is me and my car. Now the trip.

My route is slowly coming together, and is currently pencilled in as follows (note, changes will be made en route - I do not intend to have a strict schedule or route - I am retired, can spend 10 years on this if I need to (!), and expect to meet people through Lotus and on the way who will suggest good roads (which do not need to be the shortest, of course - Just the most interesting !) :-
Ship car to San Francisco, to arrive +/- early April 2012.
Drive to Monterey - Looking for a possible track day, or at least a drive on, Laguna Seca. Dates when I can do this will eventually determine my start date. (I love driving different tracks - Done many european ones including about 100 laps of 'Ring, plus many Australian ones (including Bathurst), all in my car.
Monterey to Vegas (how many roads east are there ? !!)
Vegas to Colorado Springs .
Drive Pikes Peak.
Laramie, Casper, Greybull Wyoming, Yellowstone, Butte, Spokane, and out to Anacortes where my sister lives.
1 week break to spend time with sister, and wash car !
Then Seattle to Anchorage up the Alaska Highway, and "do" Alaska ! I have specific aims while up there which I will mention nearer the time !
Returning south I intend to island hop down from Haines, including Sitka, Ketchikan etc - That bit to be developed.
Then, assuming all still well with me and car, intend to drive across Canada - Kamloops, Banff Jasper, Calgary, Winnipeg, Great Lakes and on to the East Coast, from where I will ship the car to the UK. By that time it may need a rebuild !!

So that is where I am at present. Will be working on the car during 2011 - new clutch, radiator, and general refurb, but nothing major at this stage. She is a great little car that I can happily drive 8 hours a day in, with the music on high. One primary aim is to try to do most of the trip without the roof on - I am fairly well known here for not putting the roof on unless a) the rain is torrential and b) the car is not moving. If both the aforementioned are not true, roof stays off !! Why have a convertible ??!!

So, anyone has any good ideas for fleshing out any of those routes, or picking better ones that head in the same general direction, then I would welcome your input. Oh - I have lived and worked in the US for years. Driven across I10 from San Francisco all the way through the South and up to Boston several times, worked in Louisiana and Texas (old oilfield hand !) and been up in Wyoming and all over California. So I am not a totally stranger ! Anyway, this should give you all some food for thought, and I will flesh this thread out over the coming months as preparations continue. I look forward to meeting as many US Elises en route, and running in convoy wherever possible, if only for 5 miles !
Giles
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post #2 of 192 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 12:10 AM
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When you go through Missoula, Montana let me know!
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post #3 of 192 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
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When you go through Missoula, Montana let me know!
As long as you can tell me a more fun road to drive through there than I 90 !!
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post #4 of 192 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 07:04 AM
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If you get to the Great Lakes area and then to Western NY, the LOONYs would love to have you join us for a LOONY breakfast. We meet in the Buffalo/Rochester area most Sundays as long as there is not salt on the roads. Keep us in mind. You can email me at tvacc *at* lotusowners *dot* com.

To the west of us is Auto Europe in Detroit MI. Great Lotus guys. the Ford musuem is there as well. Then there is the Rock and Roll musuem in Cleveland if you take the US route to Buffalo, or if you take the Canada route to Buffalo, there is Toronto and all that city has to offer.

Be glad to help you all I can. Driven that route. There are many things along the way the are really cool.

Tony Vaccaro
2005 Elise Ardent Red, www.lotusowners.com LOONY (Lotus Owners of New York) and the Church of the HolyLotus, Drive Fast Take Chances, 93 Caterham 7, 71 Elan, 70 Elan GTS, 1991 M100, 1999 Sport 190 Elise, 1974 Europa TC, 1973 Europa JPS #15 TwinCam.
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post #5 of 192 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 07:22 AM
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Just had a thought. The LOONYs do a drive once or twice a year down to State College PA. The interesting road is Route 144 through the center of PA. It runs from Galeton, PA to State College. PA. One of the best driving roads in the USA. If you could arrange to get here on a Tues, Wed or thursday, we could do a drive. We usually have 5 or 6 cars. Staying the night in the middle of what they call the Black Forest in PA.

There are also great roads in northern NY. Once I was coming back from Ottawa and crossed in the thousand Island area into NY from Canada. Took the back roads along Lake Ontario back to Buffalo. Great roads.

Tony Vaccaro
2005 Elise Ardent Red, www.lotusowners.com LOONY (Lotus Owners of New York) and the Church of the HolyLotus, Drive Fast Take Chances, 93 Caterham 7, 71 Elan, 70 Elan GTS, 1991 M100, 1999 Sport 190 Elise, 1974 Europa TC, 1973 Europa JPS #15 TwinCam.
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post #6 of 192 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 08:24 AM
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As long as you can tell me a more fun road to drive through there than I 90 !!
I-90 is great from Missoula to Spokane. 2 passes, tons of twisties.
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post #7 of 192 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 08:34 AM
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In California, while Laguna is a wonder track in a great location (Monterey, Carmel and Highway 1 south) to check out. Just north of San Francisco, Infineon raceway is a more challenging track set in the hills of the wine country. The local Lotus club also has autocross events (if luck holds the timing might be right for you to join them).

Heading towards Vegas you could take Highway 1 then cut over to highway 58 or 198 for some nice back roads. If it’s spring time, Death Valley isn’t too far off the path to Vegas. Been to Banff, nice spot as is Vancouver, so for that matter is Yosemite and Mono Lake, if you could fit them in.

<--- BTW turn 11 at Laguna Seca
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post #8 of 192 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 08:46 AM
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In eastern Canada I suggest a stop off in Kingston then follow the Rideau Waterway to Ottawa. Kingston is a very nice place and Ottawa has an enthusiastic Lotus community.
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post #9 of 192 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 09:49 AM
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Canada

Your route takes you through my home town of Prince George B.C. Canada.
I look forward to seeing you on your trip.
Good luck and have fun!
Danny

07 Elise R.I.P.
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post #10 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 12:05 PM
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Depending on when and where you mean "East Coast," we'd like to have you take part of one of our Sunday monthly rides here in Connecticut!
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post #11 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Look forward to running with as many of you as possible - You will be able to track my progress ! I am entering all of your details into my note book so I will look you up as I come through your area.
Came up with a windscreen saver idea for the Dalton Hwy - 40 years ago I crossed Australia in a VW Beetle, and there was then some 400 miles of dirt road, with Road Trains (semi's but with 3 trailers that we use here in Australia) throwing up rocks. I was then able to buy off the shelf a perspex windscreen cover that clipped over the true windscreen and a rubber surround that kept the perspex about 1 inch off the glass windscreen. Rocks would just bounce off, although admittedly the perspex eventually expired ! Just went down yesterday and set up to get a polycarbonate sheet bent to the shape of the Elise windscreen, then use either some rubber suction caps or rubber surround to space it out from the windscreen - Another problem solved !!
Giles
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post #12 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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None of you had mentioned this road, through the Beartooth Pass !!! An Aussie mate has driven it and told me it is a 'must do", so it is duly entered into the route !! Beartooth Highway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I can see this trip is going to take a while !
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post #13 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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In California, while Laguna is a wonder track in a great location (Monterey, Carmel and Highway 1 south) to check out. Just north of San Francisco, Infineon raceway is a more challenging track set in the hills of the wine country. The local Lotus club also has autocross events (if luck holds the timing might be right for you to join them).
<--- BTW turn 11 at Laguna Seca
Fully understand your reasoning, but I just want to drive "the corkscrew" at Laguna. Have watched racing there for years and it is just one place I have to go to. I understand the other tracks my be "better" overall, but that is not what I am after ! I will be on road tyres and with road geo so won't be setting the place on fire - Just have to drive it. Bit like driving the Karousel at the 'Ring (or going through the tunnel in Monaco) - there may well be better overall tracks (although personally I doubt it !!) but one just has to do the Karousel and the Tunnel once in ones life !! Bucket list and all that !!
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post #14 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 03:33 PM
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Fully understand the pull of Laguna- grew up near there and consider it my home track, lots of history. Going down the corkscrew for the first time is a memory one does not forget. At one track day, had a guy pull in next to me. We started chatting, turns out he was part of the crew that built it, shared a few nice stories.

Had not heard of Beartooth Highway, then again being in Montana it is pretty remote. Was going to suggest Sonora or Tioga Pass to cross the Sierra but notice you'll be in CA in April, those don't open (clear of snow) until late May or early June, might be an issue for Beartooth if your still early in the year, as well.

You have quite a adventure plan. Was lucky enough at Laguna to run into a S1 owner that had been in Europe and brought his car over on his way to your neck of the woods, a few years ago. Only got a session or two before he had some issues and had to call it a day. Hopefully you have smooth sailing and it looks like you'll be able to find support in the Lotus community on your journey (know of a local shop that has worked on the few S1 that have made it over).
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post #15 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-04-2010, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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Was lucky enough at Laguna to run into a S1 owner that had been in Europe and brought his car over on his way to your neck of the woods, a few years ago. Only got a session or two before he had some issues and had to call it a day. Hopefully you have smooth sailing and it looks like you'll be able to find support in the Lotus community on your journey (know of a local shop that has worked on the few S1 that have made it over).
Ha, believe that might have been Ian Wilson ? Dark blue S1 with a Honda engine in it ? If so, yes, we have been chatting for a while, and more recently he has been helping me set up this trip. When I came back to Aus from UK with my car in 2003 my original plan was to come through US to Aus, but as I was still working then, I couldn't spare the time to do it and had to ship the car back direct. Ian then did it the following year which pi**ed me off because that was the trip I wanted to do !! Picture of his car in the snow attached ! Same one ?

Regarding the snow etc, yes I am aware of the melt issues. But my primary target is to push into Alaska in early June, so the California / Colorado / Anacortes bit will be May (I am trying to avoid the tourist rush in Alaska in July / August !) It is only 3000 miles or so, and I reckon I can knock that over in about 2- 3 weeks - That would only be 214 miles a day !! And I do 5-600 miles a day over here on long trips if I have to. But hey, I am retired - If the snow hasn't melted yet on a bit I particularly want to see / drive, then I will just have to hunker down in the nearest bar until it does melt !! As I have said, I am starting it with a rough itinerary - It is 100% open to change if circumstances so dictate, or if people give me better ideas along the way. Bit like Forest Gump really - I am just going to run for as long as it grabs me !! I may end up in South America 2 years later if it feels right ! Have you read this blog ? http://www.mgcarclub.org.nz/ArticleL...cleLynne18.htm When you have finished reading chapter 18, go back to chapter 1 and see where they started !!! Amazing story !


Then there is this guy who lives just down the road and I met a few weeks ago MG Car Club News
People are having some wonderful adventures out there.
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post #16 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-04-2010, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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Hm - Photo of Ian's car didn't come out for some reason - Try again
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post #17 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-04-2010, 08:58 AM
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Looked up Ian's trip... it had been a while:

https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f135...america-14153/

When it gets a bit closer, would be happy to help out on tips for the Northern CA or for Laguna, would be fun to join you on track.
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post #18 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-13-2010, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
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A question for you all regarding tyres. I have now done 50,000 miles in Elsie and never had a flat. (will probably now have one tomorrow !!). So if I am going on such a long trip with dirt roads and remote locations included, how to deal with the possibility of flat tyres ?

My current plan is as follows. Wear good new tyres when I start !! Drive carfully - Obviously. Carry a light and small scissor jack and wheel brace so I can jack up the car and remove wheels if necessary. Carry a plug kit - like this Tyre Repair Kit - Bushranger And of course carry some of the tyre goo just in case. I was also thinking of carrying a couple of inner tubes (front and rear tyres different sizes) - I know these are not recommended for tubeless tyres, but if one is stuck miles from anywhere and the sidewall of the tyre is damaged where a plug or goo can't fix it, it might just get me back to civilisation.

I see no point in carrying spare wheels as with 2 different sizes and widths F to R, which size do you carry ? Take up too much space anyway.

Anyone got any first hand experience or better ideas ?
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post #19 of 192 (permalink) Old 12-13-2010, 05:07 AM
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Tire repair

I have a tire repair kit similar to what you have.

Although I've never used one of these kits, a friend has used one on a non-Lotus and says it works really well.

I also carry a small air compressor.

BTW, if you are in Toronto next summer I'd love to meet you and your S1. If you are looking for hills in Ontario you won't find too many. It is pretty flat. But you probably would want to see Niagara Falls or the CN Tower.
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post #20 of 192 (permalink) Old 01-24-2011, 02:27 AM Thread Starter
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Car preparation has started, even if only minor so far. New bushes all round, and 3 yr old Nitron shocks are now off and being taken to UK for rebuild in a couple of weeks. 48 mm TB is back on to replace 52 mm unit and make sure gas mileage is at best possible, old big rear view mirror is back on replacing the small micro mirror used for racing, while the harness bar and harnesses have been removed and the original lap/sash belts in. So far all parts taken off car have been sold so no going back now.
Major (clams off) preparation (clutch, radiator, heater etc) starts after our biennial Australian National Lotus meet at Easter because I need the car on the road for that !!
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