First autocross in the Elise - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2014, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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First autocross in the Elise

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of running my first autocross in the elise I picked up about a month ago. It was an event with a local club (Capital Driving Club) in Waldorf MD at the local minor league baseball stadium.

Having almost exclusively run a partially sorted B/ASP Subaru STi for the last 7 years, going to a bone stock car with crappy street tires on the back (more on that in a second) with almost opposite dynamics to my subie was quite an experience.

I autocrossed a 1st gen MR2 on rock hard h-rated tires with enormous spring rates and roll stiffness a few times before I got my Subaru, so I am somewhat familiar with mid-engine weight transfer and driving dynamics, but doing this in a properly sorted chassis with a lot more power and 400 pounds less weight was an awesome experience.

What wasn't awesome was the lack of rear grip from the Yokohama S Drives in the rear. I didn't realize until Sunday that the rears we're not the same AD07's that shod the front, but mid corner, first turn it was immediately obvious. The AD07's on the front, once properly pressurized and heated, thoroughly surprised me with the amount of grip given their 80's sub-compact tread width.

But with the S drives and my bad habits learned from years of autocrossing a Subaru, such as "understeer on corner entry? No problem, trail brake!" or "lifting throttle mid-corner will tighten my line, eh?", my 3 morning runs consisted of at least a second or two each run of me attempting to reel the back end in so it didn't come all the way around. Amazingly, I never completely lost it, but I came close.

The afternoon consisted of my buddy Paul (who was driving the car in a different heat) and I sorting out the pressures to make the car more predictable. We ended up 1 psi over stock front and rear, though Paul thought in the morning that we should be running 10 psi over stock.

Anyhow, my PM runs were much much better, and I shaved a full second off of my best AM run. Paul did the same. For the first outing, I felt pretty good about it. I think now that I'm more familiar with the car, even on the sub-optimal front/rear grip balance, I could eke another second and a half out now that I understand the limits and quirks better.

But man was it fun! And more so than other cars, you are really rewarded for smoothness. First on the list will be wider wheels and better wider tires (stock class be damned); I want a tire that is streetable and won't kill me in the wet, but will also hold up to a track day. R1R's maybe? Next of course will be shocks/springs. And since I don't plan on staying stock, FI will be a winter project.

Some video:

My best run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g99MXr3bf64

Paul's best run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yij1i1MXXhI

He was about 0.4 faster than me, bastard.

Thanks for reading!

-Rich

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2014, 02:58 PM
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Hey it was nice meeting you and Paul. .28sec mark is the section that kept screwing me up in the afternoon. The last 90* turn was screwing me up in the morning, of course I couldn't get either of them right in the same run. See you at the next one?
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2014, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Silver_Surfer View Post
Hey it was nice meeting you and Paul. .28sec mark is the section that kept screwing me up in the afternoon. The last 90* turn was screwing me up in the morning, of course I couldn't get either of them right in the same run. See you at the next one?
It was nice meeting you and Duane! I kept losing the rear of the car after the first hairpin and at the 28 second mark as well. The final 90 wasn't too bad for me, but honestly I didn't really dig the course design; it wasted a lot of space in that giant lot, and every part that could have been fun was ruined by unnecessary gates meant to slow you down.

I understand if a turn after a long sweeper or straight faces a potential hazard like a pole, curb, or end of the tarmac, then it makes sense to slow down drivers for safety, but putting a speed-control gate at the beginning of a slalom, or before a sweeper that ends in a box like the mid-field? I was disappointed as all these did was add frustration and take the fun level way down.

I think Larry is designing the next course, and he tends to make ones that are a lot more fun. I'll definitely try to make it, but Winchester is a hike. If they end up doing autocrosses as cumberland airport this year, you should definitely try to make it as that is my favorite place to go and our cars can stretch their legs.

-Rich

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2014, 03:46 PM
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I auto-crossed an Sti for a few years before I got an Elise. I didnt autocross the elise or my current exige very often, but I did find some things difficult to unlearn

1. You cant just floor a lotus after apex every time
2. You can have ludicrous entry speed
3. Tight Slaloms make you really appreciate lotus agility, Other road cars feel like boats in comparison here, even sports cars.

Seriously, my car is small
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05 Saffron Yellow "bumbleBee", on to a new owner
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2014, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by aschen View Post
I auto-crossed an Sti for a few years before I got an Elise. I didnt autocross the elise or my current exige very often, but I did find some things difficult to unlearn

1. You cant just floor a lotus after apex every time
2. You can have ludicrous entry speed
3. Tight Slaloms make you really appreciate lotus agility, Other road cars feel like boats in comparison here, even sports cars.
This is all true, but the lack of rear grip and me not being used to the car made me not able to give it 100% in the slalom.

Regarding # 2, here I had a touch too much entry speed, it sounds like I lifted as I was turning, and gloriously slid until the front started pushing:

-Rich

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-27-2014, 04:41 PM
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I still remember my first ride in an Elise at an auto-x event...unforgettable...

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2014, 10:48 AM
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Too much entry speed or needed to be on the throttle a bit to manage Balance? I don't know but something to consider.

If better rear tires don't settle the car for you, try an adjustable front sway bar. My elise was almost undrivable without one. Usually I say leave everything alone and do the best with the available equipment, but the bigger front bar really tamed the rear and also let me get on the gas alot earlier without spinning the inside rear.

Seriously, my car is small
07 Exige-S, "Landshark"
05 Saffron Yellow "bumbleBee", on to a new owner
Also:
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2014, 10:52 AM
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nevermind I missed in your post about the lift.

Seriously, my car is small
07 Exige-S, "Landshark"
05 Saffron Yellow "bumbleBee", on to a new owner
Also:
84 930 turbo, 06 WRX Wagon
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-30-2014, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aschen View Post
If better rear tires don't settle the car for you, try an adjustable front sway bar. My elise was almost undrivable without one. Usually I say leave everything alone and do the best with the available equipment, but the bigger front bar really tamed the rear and also let me get on the gas alot earlier without spinning the inside rear.
Yes. Big front bar. Preferably the Blackwatch Racing SCCA Solo SS special. Got mine set full hard, can still drift with a lift in second gear.

I have the Toyo R1R and Hoosiers on stock rims. These Toyos are rain magic and not bad in the dry, but where the OP lives in DC-land they might overheat with multiple runs.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-04-2014, 09:32 AM
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OP, a bit of constructive criticism for your next auto-x event - work on getting closer to the cones. From your video, it looks like you're off the cones by a couple of feet in some areas. Minimizing the distance to the cones will allow you to reduce the course distance, reduce steering angles and carry higher average speed through a given sector. From the two events I've done with my Elise, I can definitely tell this chassis has a leg up on other cars if you can aggressively thread the needle and get it to dance around cones. Good luck! Nice color, too

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Originally Posted by philethier View Post
Yes. Big front bar. Preferably the Blackwatch Racing SCCA Solo SS special. Got mine set full hard, can still drift with a lift in second gear.
Do you find that your Elise has steady state push with the large BWR FSB on full stiff? Could you post your alignment settings?

I just auto-xed my bone-stock 2006 Elise (no LSD, non LSS) and found it to understeer slightly during mid corner. A little lift of the throttle and it would rotate on command. I'm running 1/8" total rear toe in, stock rear camber, max front negative camber and 1/16" total front toe out. The car isn't fully prepped yet, so I know it's a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison with an SS prepped car. I have Penske shocks, the smaller BWR bar, 225 front and 245 rear RS3s and LSS springs planned for my initial build - as time & $$ allow. I normally campaign a fully prepped STR S2000. Building/maintaining two cars is a challenge!
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-04-2014, 09:41 AM
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Do you find that your Elise has steady state push with the large BWR FSB on full stiff?
Just a bit. Power brings on the push.

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Originally Posted by jdawson View Post
Could you post your alignment settings?
Not handy.

I have enough camber in the rear, but my car is about -0.5 in the front and it is not enough. Shims are out, though, so I'm screwed in SSR.

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 91MR2 View Post
I still remember my first ride in an Elise at an auto-x event...unforgettable...
I really enjoy the mid-engine dynamics. Its totally different than anything I've autocrossed, except a 1st gen MR2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aschen View Post
Too much entry speed or needed to be on the throttle a bit to manage Balance? I don't know but something to consider.

If better rear tires don't settle the car for you, try an adjustable front sway bar. My elise was almost undrivable without one. Usually I say leave everything alone and do the best with the available equipment, but the bigger front bar really tamed the rear and also let me get on the gas alot earlier without spinning the inside rear.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aschen View Post
nevermind I missed in your post about the lift.
Haha, yes, it was something that was totally acceptable in my Subaru; this car, not so much.

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Originally Posted by philethier View Post
Yes. Big front bar. Preferably the Blackwatch Racing SCCA Solo SS special. Got mine set full hard, can still drift with a lift in second gear.

I have the Toyo R1R and Hoosiers on stock rims. These Toyos are rain magic and not bad in the dry, but where the OP lives in DC-land they might overheat with multiple runs.
I'll be looking into suspension this winter; I'm at least doing Ohlins or Nitrons and replacing all bushings and bearings since the car has 105k miles on it and this is all likely original.

I bought a set of Kodiak wheels from another forum member a few weeks ago, and I'll be getting a set of R1Rs (probably 225 / 245 F/R, hoping it won't rub too much) as soon as the car comes back from the shop.

And I can always spray the tires with water if they heat up too much

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdawson View Post
OP, a bit of constructive criticism for your next auto-x event - work on getting closer to the cones. From your video, it looks like you're off the cones by a couple of feet in some areas. Minimizing the distance to the cones will allow you to reduce the course distance, reduce steering angles and carry higher average speed through a given sector. From the two events I've done with my Elise, I can definitely tell this chassis has a leg up on other cars if you can aggressively thread the needle and get it to dance around cones. Good luck! Nice color, too


Do you find that your Elise has steady state push with the large BWR FSB on full stiff? Could you post your alignment settings?

I just auto-xed my bone-stock 2006 Elise (no LSD, non LSS) and found it to understeer slightly during mid corner. A little lift of the throttle and it would rotate on command. I'm running 1/8" total rear toe in, stock rear camber, max front negative camber and 1/16" total front toe out. The car isn't fully prepped yet, so I know it's a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison with an SS prepped car. I have Penske shocks, the smaller BWR bar, 225 front and 245 rear RS3s and LSS springs planned for my initial build - as time & $$ allow. I normally campaign a fully prepped STR S2000. Building/maintaining two cars is a challenge!
I always appreciate constructive criticism. I know I was a million miles from the cones; being new (again) to mid-engine weight balance in conjunction with ****ty rear tires and no grip made me nervous on quick transitions when coming off of throttle, so I was trying to be smoother than necessary because of my lack of confidence based on losing the rear end before. I was definitely leaving 2 seconds on the course, but it was my shakedown run

I'll definitely need to get used to the car more, and with a better tire setup and actual rear grip, I think I'll be able to pull it in a bit and be faster.

Bone stock, stock alignment this car definitely has steady state understeer, though I think that's generally a product of rearward weight bias, and I imagine it would be tricky to dial it out too much without making the car twitchy. But I'm reading up through here.

I'm planning something similar for my build, but stock class be damned, I'm going to do forced induction anyhow so I'll be doing non-stock class legal shock/spring setup and get my ass kicked for a while.

And tell me about it with the multiple cars. I have an ASP Subaru STi that I kind of lost interest in before fully building it up, so its basically built to be close to a good STX car but with an illegal tune on a stock motor. I'm thinking of selling it and putting the money towards forced induction on the lotus and an old Lexus to beat on.

-Rich

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 11:22 AM
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Little known fact: 'Autocross' is an Olde English word meaning 'to pick up orange cones on 120 degree asphalt for 6 hours'
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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Little known fact: 'Autocross' is an Olde English word meaning 'to pick up orange cones on 120 degree asphalt for 6 hours'
Lol. Reminds me of this: Autocross - Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 12:51 PM
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Autocross is sorta dumb but no more so that driving a long distance, just to drive around in a circle, just to drive a long way home.

Worse yet is the "car show": stand around and look at cars. Maybe things get really crazy and you can take a few pictures with ye ol timey filter effects.
6TVRs+ likes this.

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post #16 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by SwingLo View Post
Little known fact: 'Autocross' is an Olde English word meaning 'to pick up orange cones on 120 degree asphalt for 6 hours'
You're doing it wrong.

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That is still funny every time I go back to it. Might know some of the people that did it...

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Autocross is sorta dumb but no more so that driving a long distance, just to drive around in a circle, just to drive a long way home.

Worse yet is the "car show": stand around and look at cars. Maybe things get really crazy and you can take a few pictures with ye ol timey filter effects.
I think we can all agree when I say **** the hard parker douchebags.
Regular car shows you might get to see something old/rare and cool, so there's frequently good value in those. If you're a car nerd anyway. If not, then yeah, probably fairly worthless for you. But if you have a Lotus and you're not some sort of a car nerd... there's something off about you for sure, so
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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 08:44 PM
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Exactly. Its all pointless, try to have a good time.

I'm always confused by people who hpde that hold their noses in the air to autocrossers.
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Seriously, my car is small
07 Exige-S, "Landshark"
05 Saffron Yellow "bumbleBee", on to a new owner
Also:
84 930 turbo, 06 WRX Wagon
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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-19-2014, 10:16 AM
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Exactly. Its all pointless, try to have a good time.

I'm always confused by people who hpde that hold their noses in the air to autocrossers.
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Agreed, and this wasn't even a 'which one do you like better?' topic.

"Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."
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