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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
saw a lot of carnage last week and it got me wondering. so far i havent seen much more than cracked rear and front clams and crushed diffusers etc but am wondering just how these cars stand up to heavier damage.

how repairable is the chassis? has anyone bent or badly damged their chassis on the track so its needed a repair? im wondering if they can be or are repaired being bonded alluminum??? what kind of structural damage have people seen and what would consitute a write-off?

what kind of damage could be expected from a very bad spin into a barrier?
repairability?
 

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Not really repairable - Lotus basically says buy a new chassis for $11k and rebuild the car around it if you don't want to just throw it away. I bent a small part of a suspension mount point about 1/4", and the insurance company eventually totaled the car.

John
 

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If the frame is bent, or becomes a little separated, move on, its not safe.


Your life is worth more than the money you lost having to buy a new frame.
 

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I forget the member here, but one guy ran over a 4 x 4 peice of wood.
it totaled the car.

Mike, these little cars are cool, but to me, the design is not very good for being a practical track car. They are damaged way too easily, they are fragile, as you will see in this thread, and the body work is expensive to repair, and makes for the cars maintenence to be hindered in some areas.

A minor off track excursion that would be a cheap fix will be much more to fix in the lotus.
remember that on the street you have car insurance, on the track you do not, unless you are buying an additional policy that is not cheap at all.

I used mine as a dedicated track car.
I very quickly realized that this was not a good choice as a tool for tracking, and as far as using it for W2W, forget it. There were so many other choices that made much more sense, as well as the fact that to convert the stock Elise into a full race car($7k-$10K) was the same cost(or more) than just buying a different car that was already built and had full race prep on it AND had lots of other cars to race with in quality clubs such as the SCCA.
Contact will happen, be it with a wall, or another car, it is inevitable, and part of tracking. I prefer using a car that i can afford to push off a cliff and walk away happy that i am unijured. the lotus was not that car (for me).


and then there is the whole deal with the simple trackside reairs done with a hammer and can of krylon paint compared to needing to buy a front/rear clam.


racing/tracking cost $, and unless you have very deep pockets, these cars are a poor choice to campaign IMO.

I do enjoy looking at other lotus owners' cars, but with so many other choices out there for going to the track with, this car became the bottom of my list very quickly.


Mike I am just telling you the truth (not popular here when it comes to this subject) how i saw/experienced it.
I would rather be truthful, than be popular here and be a lotus cheerleader.
 

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Get a spec Miata.
 

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Spec Miata's are definitely a good choice. You can go from a basic, inexpensive car, all the way to a "not legal to race in Spec Miata" but really fast car. Or you can move to pure sports racers varying from "less than a Lotus" that will turn Lotus-like laptimes, to cars at the upper end (i.e., 40k) that will be really, really quick and a lot of fun, and very reliable when driven at 9/10ths.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I forget the member here, but one guy ran over a 4 x 4 peice of wood.
it totaled the car.

Mike, these little cars are cool, but to me, the design is not very good for being a practical track car. They are damaged way too easily, they are fragile, as you will see in this thread, and the body work is expensive to repair, and makes for the cars maintenence to be hindered in some areas.

A minor off track excursion that would be a cheap fix will be much more to fix in the lotus.
remember that on the street you have car insurance, on the track you do not, unless you are buying an additional policy that is not cheap at all.

I used mine as a dedicated track car.
I very quickly realized that this was not a good choice as a tool for tracking, and as far as using it for W2W, forget it. There were so many other choices that made much more sense, as well as the fact that to convert the stock Elise into a full race car($7k-$10K) was the same cost(or more) than just buying a different car that was already built and had full race prep on it AND had lots of other cars to race with in quality clubs such as the SCCA.
Contact will happen, be it with a wall, or another car, it is inevitable, and part of tracking. I prefer using a car that i can afford to push off a cliff and walk away happy that i am unijured. the lotus was not that car (for me).


and then there is the whole deal with the simple trackside reairs done with a hammer and can of krylon paint compared to needing to buy a front/rear clam.


racing/tracking cost $, and unless you have very deep pockets, these cars are a poor choice to campaign IMO.

I do enjoy looking at other lotus owners' cars, but with so many other choices out there for going to the track with, this car became the bottom of my list very quickly.


Mike I am just telling you the truth (not popular here when it comes to this subject) how i saw/experienced it.
I would rather be truthful, than be popular here and be a lotus cheerleader.

Yes I have increasingly been thinking along the same lines - hence the post.

I enjoy racing the car but at the end of the day it is a compromise vehicle fundamentally as it was designed as primarily a road car.

Ive been looking into getting a proper single seater. I have been playing with a bunch of guys who run Historic formula (mostly Lotus) but the price tags are high for these cars, I have been looking at importing something but its getting a car that has an active series running here.

My main choices (for cars that have series running) are:

FJ1600 (like FF only not, mostly younger croud)
FJS (same as FJ1600 only with aero, competative)
F4 (more competative again, cars based on F3)

If I just want to have fun and not enter series;
I keep looking longingly at some nice late 90s F3 cars :D:D

Id love to bring one in as a track toy and they arent that pricey. How crazy is it to try to run a late 90s F3 car as a track/fun car??
 

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It takes a significant impact on the chassis to bend it and by the time that happens there is not likely to be much left of the car anyway. The chassis cannot be repaired if damaged but it can be replaced (not usually done in the US due to costs but common enough in Europe and Australia). The key reason repair is not viable is that it is not economic to make a safe and properly engineered repair to the chassis and thus a replacement chassis is the solution.

The main causes of damage to the chassis though seem to be running into solid objects on the road (such as the wooden block mentioned) and sliding sideways into a kerb causing the front A arms to be torn from their mountings (neither of these offending objects are traditionally found on a circuit).

While I agree (to some extent) with fishguy that the cost to repair an Elise/Exige are high if/when you have an off track excursion I do not agree that they are flimsy and vulnerable. The Elise/Exige is designed to protect the occupant as a first priority with repairability coming way down the list and to me that is the way it should be too. I would rather walk away from a totalled car and say some rude words than be carried from the circuit in an ambulance. As an example an Elise in Australia (at Philip Island) was hit by an F430 head on with such force that the engine torn from its mounts and thrown against the firewall - the chassis was damaged - the driver walked free - the Ferrari driver sustained a broken leg (the Ferrari was also written off).

My key concern is that I cannot believe an inexpensive fifteen year old track car can be safer than a properly prepared Lotus as there is no way it has the same ability to absorb crash energy and prevent it being transmitted to the driver. You need to decide where your priorities lie and what type of events you will be engaged in and find the safety vs cost model that works for you :)

PS: a 2-Eleven has simply removable panels to facilitate easy repair but still maintains the Elise crash structure!
 

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I owned an Exige S and had the same concerns as fishguy. I traded the Exige for a Caterham, problem solved :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My key concern is that I cannot believe an inexpensive fifteen year old track car can be safer than a properly prepared Lotus as there is no way it has the same ability to absorb crash energy and prevent it being transmitted to the driver.
thanks. i have been wondering about this too.


i know a lot of work has gone into the crash cells for modern formula cars - im wondering how they compare safety wise. in other single seaters i have seem the driver does look quite exposed and vulnerable
 

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Following fishguy and other's advice, I sold off my aftermarket parts on my Elise and used the money to buy a F500 and race with SCCA. I am paying a mechanic to convert the drive train to a Suzuki GSX-R 600cc engine. SCCA will hopefully be approving these engines shortly as legal engines in the F500 class. 16,000 rpm redline, paddle shift sequential transmission, and 850 lbs with driver is one hell of a recipe for fun. As far as safety, this is one of the main reasons I like F500. Our cars have full width side pods with large aluminum radiators, an aluminum crush box in the nose, and large aluminum diffuser structure in the rear. All of these absorb energy when they crush in an impact. Add to that the fact that these cars shed their suspension in an impact which further dissipates energy. Combine this with a cast bead seat, 6 point harness, arm restraints, and head and neck restraint, anti-intrusion plates, etc. and I think you have a great recipe for a safe car. It also helps that I was 10 seconds faster than my Elise (1:28 vs. 1:18) and that was with the old worn out engine that came with my F500 when I bought it used. With the new engine it should be at least 15 sec a lap faster at Roebling. :shift:

Best advice when selecting a track car (assuming you want to do some w2w) is to narrow down your initial choices based on class sizes, safety, and what you can afford to operate. Hopefully from there you can find one that makes you grin ear to ear every time you think about it.
 

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For a track day car it's great. Just repect the track and you will be fine.


For wheel to wheel racing it will be costly. Fun but costly.
 

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saw a lot of carnage last week and it got me wondering. so far i havent seen much more than cracked rear and front clams and crushed diffusers etc but am wondering just how these cars stand up to heavier damage.

how repairable is the chassis? has anyone bent or badly damged their chassis on the track so its needed a repair? im wondering if they can be or are repaired being bonded alluminum??? what kind of structural damage have people seen and what would consitute a write-off?

what kind of damage could be expected from a very bad spin into a barrier?
repairability?
I would recommend posting these questions to forums in Australia and England where Elises/Exiges are raced on a regular basis. They have years of experience racing S1 Elises, many of which have seen multiple race seasons. Check out LoTRDC - Elise Trophy as a place to start.
 

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It takes a significant impact on the chassis to bend it and by the time that happens there is not likely to be much left of the car anyway.
I think the greater cost concern is around not bending the chassis is a massive shunt, but rather, damaging the suspension pickup points (for example, tearing them loose) through a much more minor issue of dropping a wheel at just the wrong spot, or even a fairly light contact with a tire wall or something.

I spun off to the inside of turn 6 at Laguna a couple of weeks ago during a race and tore the rear tie rod tab off in a really modest impact (light enough that when the emergency crew came to me, I asked "am I broken or just stuck in the gravel?") What is a 2 hour repair on a tube frame chassis would been significant and near chassis-ending in a Lotus.

Steve
 

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A dedicated track car makes alot of sense, however for me the extended drive to the track in a truck pulling a trailer kills the deal.

My answer is to continue to track the Lotus and buy the cheap track day insurance.

Another option is a partnership in a race car, trackside garage.
 

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One other option is to rent a racecar for track days. Some shops will do one day rentals, and if you only do a few track days a year it can really make a lot of sense. They bring it to the track, set it up, take care of it all day, and at the end of the day they pack it up and go home.

Steve
 

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I think the greater cost concern is around not bending the chassis is a massive shunt, but rather, damaging the suspension pickup points (for example, tearing them loose) through a much more minor issue of dropping a wheel at just the wrong spot, or even a fairly light contact with a tire wall or something.
I addressed the chassis bending question as it was part of the OPs question (but I agree with you it is unlikely and thus only discussed it for comleteness) - I also understand your point which is why my second point was about suspension pickup points :) as follows:
...
The main causes of damage to the chassis though seem to be running into solid objects on the road (such as the wooden block mentioned) and sliding sideways into a kerb causing the front A arms to be torn from their mountings (neither of these offending objects are traditionally found on a circuit).
...
I spun off to the inside of turn 6 at Laguna a couple of weeks ago during a race and tore the rear tie rod tab off in a really modest impact (light enough that when the emergency crew came to me, I asked "am I broken or just stuck in the gravel?") What is a 2 hour repair on a tube frame chassis would been significant and near chassis-ending in a Lotus.

Steve
I do realise that repairing a Lotus is likely to be more expensive - but you need to balance that against safety (and everyone has a different cost vs safety benefit threshold :))
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I think the greater cost concern is around not bending the chassis is a massive shunt, but rather, damaging the suspension pickup points (for example, tearing them loose) through a much more minor issue of dropping a wheel at just the wrong spot, or even a fairly light contact with a tire wall or something.
yes this is exactly my concern. I can fix a tube frame chassis easily - plus theres a lot less to fix replace if I loose a corner

Im still trying to get my head around the safety issue to see if its necessary true or not.

There are some single seaters with front crash structures and side pods designed to crush under impact. theres tight fitting strong built in racing seats, your basically inside a tube. having said that there are others that look very exposed
 
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