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Discussion Starter #1
Basically, I'm deciding whether to improve what the Lotus does best already (flying through the turns), or to improve what its somewhat lacking (some oomph in the straights). As much fun as it would be to be able to keep up with or be faster than most cars on the straights, I think it would be more fun to be further untouchable in the turns. So my question is what would you do: build the block and supercharge it to 300whp OR coilovers, anti-roll bar, rear wing, diffuser, front splitter and side skirts? How much of a difference in handling will it make?

Thanks in advance :)

(And driving schools are on the list for those who will say to improve driver skill)
 

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You can always go faster through the straights with a higher exit speed...so I would say handling.

The extra power in the straights just makes up for your mistakes in the turns! Also, if you upgrade to that kinda power...your going to need to upgrade the brakes.

So my vote is for suspension.
 

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Also, if you upgrade to that kinda power...your going to need to upgrade the brakes.

So my vote is for suspension.
Eh... everyone always says this... But but regardless of whether you're faster at the end of a straight because you come out of the corner faster or because you have more power down the straight the brakes are doing the exact same work.
 

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Great question, as I'm debating this as well. I have an '05 Elise and coming from a modded 400hp STI, it's a little weak on the straights. My first track day (with the Elise) was at Pocono Raceway on the F-USA course and two 30second "straights" (counting a long banked NASCAR turn), separated by a chicane, really showed where the car needed more power. Sure, the car handled well in the twists and was phenomenal under braking, but it really sucked being demolished by cars that had more power. Funny thing, the only cars under 400hp that beat me were the two ExigeSs that were present - and they pulled like freight trains on anything that allowed even one second of throttle.

A brief vid of my fun... YouTube - Lotus Elise at PoconoFUSA with PDA - Tool
Time the straights and how long I'm on the gas.... a supercharger/turbo would have been worth it's weight in gold on this configuration.


No doubt that taking an Elise and working the suspension will do some good, but I think the real handicap still shows even when you've done the suspension. Power is like a weapon.... it's great when you have it and don't need to use it, but it sucks if you need it and don't have it.

What kind of tracks do you have - tight and twisty...where you are rarely full throttle, or sweepers and straights...where youhave plenty of throttle planted?

For what it's worth, I'm planning on doing both... supercharger and coilovers (sway bar is already in my garage waiting for install). With fat R-comps, stiffer springs are necessary for my tastes and I can only do so much with skill....and so the supercharger is needed.

Good luck,
TomK
 

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question: what's your driving experience? have you done any racing/driving schools (not the club/track day ones)?

i would suggest first taking a racing school to be properly trained on what to do on the racetrack.. that way you can better evaluate your car. Then, I would make an upgrade to the car that will help you feel more comfortable driving the car at its limits (properly) and build your confidence (something like tires first, then a suspension upgrade, etc). Last, I would add horsepower when you have reached the limits of the car in its stock (or close to it) form.

Just my opinion..

Robbie
 

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Thanks for the opinions so far. Does anyone have any input on the downforce side of things?
at stock power levels you are going to need to be very careful about adding downforce as it almost always adds drag. You do not want to be adding any/much drag to the car. Modifying the undertray/diffuser/splitter would be my first ideas for aero with the least increase in drag.
 

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I assume we are talking about road courses? Driving schools and then maybe a built-up suspension may be worth the same as maybe, I don't know, 400-500-600-700 extra HP?

I have no idea of your driving skill level... I just know that a properly driven stock Miata can walk away from a Viper if the Miata is driven by an expert, and the Viper is driven by someone still at the lower regions of the learning curve. It's crazy how humbling it can be to see a low-HP, momentum car completely lap a HP car after just a few laps.

Because the lowest-level, base-suspension Elise is so, so incredibly capable, I would typically recommend spending money only on driver's education and parts that will make the car last longer for the duration of a track day, or make your track experience more comfortable or safe, or help save you money in the big picture. This all could include: dedicated race rubber, a second set of wheels for that rubber, race pads, hardier rotors, proper harnesses and a HANS.

Honestly, IMHO, there is no reason to do much work on the car until you've gotten to within 3-4 seconds of the car's essential capabilities. I still haven't gotten there, and that's why you see the mods you see in my sig. My next mod will be to add more camber to my rear wheels, and that's only because I'd like to get more life from my tires. :)

THAT SAID: There's no denying a supercharger would be fun. Just don't make the mistake of thinking it will come anywhere close to driver's education in terms of improving lap times. You might be able to shave 5-6 seconds during one day of driver's education, whereas that extra HP might only give you an extra second or two, if that.
 

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at stock power levels you are going to need to be very careful about adding downforce as it almost always adds drag. You do not want to be adding any/much drag to the car. Modifying the undertray/diffuser/splitter would be my first ideas for aero with the least increase in drag.
Plus, when does all that aero stuff kick in -- 90+mph? It's just money down the drain unless you're already at the limit on the really fast stuff. I would attack all the mechanical grip issues first.
 

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suspension, alignment, and tires will help the most in the slower stuff but in the fast sweepers the aero will help. There are some S2000s out here with stock motors and very well setup suspension and aero that just dominate on tracks like Spring Mountain that have multiple long sweepers.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
As far as my experience goes, I've done a fair amount of karting and autocross. My dad had taken drivers school and driven indy cars :cool:, so he has taught me the fundamentals. I've only had two track days, and my instructor moved me up to the advanced group on the first day.

As far as modifications done already: Bride seat, Scroth harnesses, extra set of wheels with Hoosier R6's, Pagid blues, and a front and rear towhook.

The track that I've been driving on has 7 long 70+ mph sweepers, 3 45-50 mph turns, and 2 descent straights.

I completely agree with going to drivers schools, but i wouldn't say it's keeping me from being 5-6 seconds faster, maybe 2 or 3. Last track day I could basically hang with a very well driven spec miata in the turns, and (obviously) pull him in the straights.

Keep that input coming :)
 

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Well Nick, in a word, both.

I'm not going to debate the advantages of more power here. I'm not talking about an extra 20 hp on a new Elise SC... oooooh, scary........ I'm talking real power. Obviously that will make a diffrence, not just on the track but at autocross were aero aids probably help a lot less. Your a great driver, you can handle it.

That said, kp ran 3 seconds faster than his previous best time at Miller last week with his new aero aids. 3 seconds, that's huge. And that's in an already way fast car with a fantastic driver. 3 seconds.

I read an article Rory gave me from one of his race magazines that tested a variety of aids on a new Exige. Spoilers, splitter, canards and a diffuser. Suprisingly to me, the diffuser made the biggest difference. I'll let you borrow it if you want. I was looking at a giant wing and splitter, but I think for now I'm going to buy Reverie' diffuser and spoiler/splitter before my next track day. The diffuser has the added benefit of saving weight over the stock setup and it's removable for normal daily driving.

BTW, I heard you passed Dylan last week at Miller.:clap:
 

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As far as my experience goes, I've done a fair amount of karting and autocross. My dad had taken drivers school and driven indy cars :cool:, so he has taught me the fundamentals. I've only had two track days, and my instructor moved me up to the advanced group on the first day.

As far as modifications done already: Bride seat, Scroth harnesses, extra set of wheels with Hoosier R6's, Pagid blues, and a front and rear towhook.

The track that I've been driving on has 7 long 70+ mph sweepers, 3 45-50 mph turns, and 2 descent straights.

I completely agree with going to drivers schools, but i wouldn't say it's keeping me from being 5-6 seconds faster, maybe 2 or 3. Last track day I could basically hang with a very well driven spec miata in the turns, and (obviously) pull him in the straights.

Keep that input coming :)
Sounds like you know all the issues that are on the table. I think you need to do some self-analysis of the tracks you're driving, and where you're losing speed. Do we know what kind of Lotus you're driving? Because, obviously, a whole series of progessively more aggresive suspension set-ups will help a well-driven car go faster. So...

- If you're really within 2 seconds of the current set-up's abilities, and you're driving a base Elise suspension, then you absolutely can do a lot to make some time. FWIW, I would almost always opt for handling over horsepower, mostly because set-up changes are more instructive (does that make sense? I mean that horsepower is a very one-dimensional mod; you drive the car pretty much like you've always driven it -- save for changes in throttle balance -- and off you go). Also, the tracks I run are generally more about momentum, so HP can't help me much (except help me get over the shame of being smoked by M3s and 911s during the drag races down the straights!).

- On that tip: If you are running a couple of very long straights, yoiu should know the car DIES after 90-100mph, meaning from 60mph to 85mph it's still running as fast as its power/weight ratio would suggest, but once you begin approaching 100mph, drag and a lack of HP really punish it. It is maddening after 100mph. So, the story here obviously, is that FI would help. But on the flipside (there is always a flipside!), it may not make enough of a difference to justify its price. It seems that at Thunderhill, having one of the supercharged engines is worth maybe just a couple of seconds. (Or so says my cloudy memory.)

- I know very little about aero and this car, save that guys who've jumped from the Elise to the NA Exige say there's no difference in lap times. I think all the aero stuff really only comes into play if you have a circuit that justifies it. Aero would absolutely be my last concern. That's me, your experience may vary.

- Finally, I suggest having the absolute fastest, most experienced racer drive your car to see what it's capable of. Record that time so you have a baseline, and ask that person what he/she would do for more speed. This way, you will verify your proximity to the car's limits, and have a nice headstart in answering some of the questions you have about mods.
 

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BTW, I heard you passed Dylan last week at Miller.:clap:
Curious: what other tracks do you guys run besides Miller? (Also, I did an interview with Alan Wilson, the guy who designed Miller... I should probably turn it into a PDF and make it available on this board... VERY interesting stuff!).
 

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Curious: what other tracks do you guys run besides Miller? (Also, I did an interview with Alan Wilson, the guy who designed Miller... I should probably turn it into a PDF and make it available on this board... VERY interesting stuff!).
Unfortunately, that's the only place tha's reasonably close. I'm running PIR next month and I've run Reno-Fernely as well.
 

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If you add power, you'll have to tune the suspension to put it to the ground anyway, so if you're financially constrained, I say tune the suspension. Keep in mind that depending on how much power you decide to add in the future (if any), your new suspension may not have sufficient range to accommodate the increased power; hence you'll have to change your suspension again.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
After giving it some thought, I'm leaning towards the handling. I'm not trying to be the fastest car out there, but rather have the most fun, and the fun and adrenaline come to me in the turns. It doesn't really matter to me if someone can out drag me on the straights as long as I can eat their lunch in the turns.

As of now this is what I'm looking at getting:

- Reverie or Lotus Motorsport rear wing
- Reverie 3 or 5 element diffuser or Prototype Composites 9 element diffuser
- Reverie Spoiler w/ Splitter
- Reverie Canards
- Reverie or Prototype Composites side skirts
- BWR anti-roll bar
- Some type of coilovers

In the future a built supercharged engine with 300ish whp.

With that said, what coilovers would you guys recommend? Nitron, Ohlin, Penske, _______? Taking into account the downforce and power down the road, what kinds of spring rates?

Thanks guys! :bow:
 

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not sure on which coilovers just yet but I'm not entirely sold on these superstiff spring rates just yet. I'm still shopping around. I will hopefully have a good comparison soon of the car stock vs 275ish whp with everything else the same to see just how much of a difference the power alone makes.
 

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After giving it some thought, I'm leaning towards the handling. I'm not trying to be the fastest car out there, but rather have the most fun, and the fun and adrenaline come to me in the turns. It doesn't really matter to me if someone can out drag me on the straights as long as I can eat their lunch in the turns.

As of now this is what I'm looking at getting:

- Reverie or Lotus Motorsport rear wing
- Reverie 3 or 5 element diffuser or Prototype Composites 9 element diffuser
- Reverie Spoiler w/ Splitter
- Reverie Canards
- Reverie or Prototype Composites side skirts
- BWR anti-roll bar
- Some type of coilovers

In the future a built supercharged engine with 300ish whp.

With that said, what coilovers would you guys recommend? Nitron, Ohlin, Penske, _______? Taking into account the downforce and power down the road, what kinds of spring rates?

Thanks guys! :bow:
Are you building a street car or a race car?
 
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