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On Saturday, the BMWCCA Seattle chapter held a late-season driving school at Portland International Raceway. It's been five years since I last drove on a track, but I went to this one. I drove my E36 M3.

Dennis P., the man behind dpcars.net, was there too. He was instructing, and he drove his new black Elise. Two weeks old, with base suspension.

It was raining most of the day, but there were about two hours during the afternoon when the track was fairly dry. Dennis took me out for one session in his Elise while it was dry. Twenty five minutes at track speed. :clap:

The Elise is a much faster car than any of the BMWs. Dennis is also very familiar with PIR, so he didn't dawdle. Several times, we got 1000' or so of clear track ahead of us, but we invariably caught up to someone in half a lap or less. There was one GT3, also driven by an instructor, that kept up with us and even passed us once. We also passed him once.

I could feel more about the Elise's grip as a passenger than I could driving my own car, never mind the track's surface irregularities. :) The handling was everything I expected. Mid-corner corrections were undramatic.

I was surprised how well the Elise accelerates. It regularly topped 120 MPH on the front straight, and a couple of times he shifted into fifth. My M3, by comparison, hit 110 at best. (Yeah, Dennis got a better drive onto the straight, but still.) I was expecting a car roughly equal to the M3, but it's much faster in a straight line.

I was also surprised by how much the body rolls. It didn't seem like a very flat ride.

Inside the car it was very loud. Dennis talked occasionally, but I didn't hear anything he said at all. The touring soft top was on. From trackside, though, the Elise was one of the quieter cars on the straight. I won't be concerned about revving my car in populated areas. An engine at 8000 RPM sounds very nice.

Anyway, now that I've ridden in an Elise at speed, I'm even more impatient to get my own. What a car!

My wife, Anne, was there too. This was her first chance to see an Elise. She laughed at the way I climbed in (the soft top was on), though I thought I'd done it pretty smoothly. Oh, well. Practice. Anne is still not convinced an Elise is a good idea.

You can read Dennis's writeup of the day and see a video clip here.

http://www.dpcars.net/elise2/recent.htm

Let me also say the the BMWCCA schools are amazingly well-run events, and I highly recommend them. If anyone from the Seattle chapter is reading this, thanks for a great day!

kbob
 

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You can tell how quick an Elise is just by checking the classing of the car compared to the M3, by the SCCA, MCSSC and other orgs.. It is typically classed in the fastest stock class which includes the E46M as the only 3ser, C5 vettes and other ground pounders.
I've timed a sport190 S1 and it's acceleration easily matches the C5 vette up to the top of second gear. A fed spec jobby should be almost as quick(more weight).
m
 
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