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my first Elise autoX, in the rain!

I was looking forward to my first autocross in the Elise. I wanted to find out what the limits were and how the car handled. My goal was to drive my four runs and to spin it at least once. I kept hearing how you could press and press and the Elise would reward you. I wanted to find the(!) limit.

We set up the course in rain showers! I love to autox in the rain because it feels like you have 1000hp! Smooth driving is rewarded and you have to be smooth with the throttle. The course was really wet. Worse, as always in California where it does not rain much in the summer, the first rain brings up all the accumulated oil. The puddles had a brown cast to them because of the oil on the surface! Of course the rain stopped just as I started to make my runs but the course was showing rivers of water.

Kiyoshi was being kind when describing my first corner in my first autocross... I was excited. I added throttle as I crossed start/finish and the first corner was right near a drain. I did not(!) save it but ended up with a spin and the car came to a stop more than 90 degrees past direction of travel. Worse, I did not put all pedals in and killed it! Boy, was I out of practice! I did not realize what happened it was so quick!

The Elise was great however. The LSS setup communicates all kinds of things to you. Probably most impressive was the communication with the tires. Top speed on the longest straight was about 50 mph with a puddle at the end, and an offset. I did not feel any aquaplaning and did not expect to at that speed. I got an inside front to lock once that I know of so the ABS must either be very subtle or I was not driving it hard enough. Still having fun....

Even better was the communication of over turning the steering. I could definitely tell when I put in too much lock as the tires would judder and the vibration was communicated to the hands. Unwinding got me back to a better slip angle and I was immediately rewarded with a sudden turn in. It was like the car was yelling at me, no wispering or having to figure out what it wanted.

There were some interesting parts to the experience. I could not see the cones on the left turns! I am 5' 10", mostly in legs. I have another inch headroom under the hardtop with my helmet on. I am definitely sitting low. I found myself being blocked by the left mirror in certain situations and caught myself peering under the mirror! I am going to raise the seat slightly and hope that helps. I think I am also learning where to look, as vision is must more limiting than the Seven I am used to.

I kept beeping the horn on one corner! My hand position pushes the palm into the inside of the rim where the horn button is located. I burst out laughing the second time. Still having fun...

No shifting, second was sufficient for this tight course, especially since it was wet.

No playing with tire pressures. I was way underinflated but that was less important at the low accelerations due to the wet.

Most of all, I was impressed with the desire of the car to be driven out of the corners. Being out of practice and in a new car, I tended to enter the corners too hot, ending up understeering to scrub off the speed and then, once the slip angle came back, managing the corner. The car wants slow in - fast out. Things went much better if I was slow in and added throttle to steer through and out of the corner. Boy, do I have a lot to learn. Still having fun...

Finally, on my third run, all was going well. I completed the course and was really smooth. A great run! Entering the second to the last corner, there was a right, left combination, before a short braking for the final turn before start/finish. I did the right part, tried to do the left, in a puddle, and ended up in a full 180 spin. This time I did know what happened. A quick transition, too much speed, and I was already trying for the brake for the last corner. Embarassing yet one more time.

Still having fun....

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