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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been working with R3 Motorsports in SoCal (located in Van Nuys and Willow Springs) to build up a couple 2007 Lotus Exige's for SCCA T2. We have also been running them with the good folks at Lotus Challenge Series during development, and hope to continue to run with LCS and SCCA and perhaps some other series in the future.

We ran the first car in Group 1 at the regional double SF at Laguna Seca this weekend. Not a lot of track time, but still a ton of fun (1 practice, qualifying, race, qualify, race over three days).

The car got a lot of attention in the garage as everyone seemed excited to see a Exige in SCCA. Folks were surprised at how well prepped the car was... most folks expect T1,2,3 cars to be a pretty rough mix of stock components and safety gear, but since the Lotus comes from the factory bare bones, its easy to build a nice and clean race car that looks way more sorted that any other Touring class car. We ran with radios, fuel cells, fire suppression all dialed, exhaust at 103db, then restricted down to 101db or so thanks to a fine double walled, adjustable dryer vent tube, and a nice coolsuit system. We actually have to work to get up to the 2090 weight limit. Everyone smiles when they see the car and it was enthusiastically received by the other SCCA members.

So, I should have looked at average T2 times for Laguna and I should have had the lap timer working. I went out in practice and shook the car down and scrubbed in the Hoosiers. We were getting some understeer as it exited corners so we played with ride height and sways then went out to qualify (always fun to change settings right before qualifying). The car was loose on turn in but this was able to be dialed out by a change in driving/braking... and was way more fun. So, I qualified conservatively while sharing the track with 40 other cars (there was only one other T2 entrant... a super nice guy in a factory built WRX STI). The run group has everything from 600 hp+ NSX's, full on Mustang, Panoz, Viper Cup racing cars, 996 and 996 Cup cars, GT3 RS, RX7's, RX8's, a super cool brand new wide body M3, a world challenge CTS-V, and some guys in Miatas and older Porsches... so a variable of 20 seconds a lap on some of these cars. (but very good race craft all the way around and I never felt that folks were "still learning" proper racecraft). In qualifying (which felt like driving an Audi R15 through GT2 traffic) we set a new track record for T2 at Laguna... ever. The big HP cars were all surprised to see a T2 car giving them a run for their money. No one was angry, but a lot of folks scratching their heads when a T2 car showed up in there mirror or was not able to be dropped. Needless to say, I was having a ton of fun.

I ended up setting new T2 track records in both races; the best time I turned was a 1:39 something. (I won both races too, but that was less rewarding as we only had 2 cars in the class). I started the two Group 1 races (nearly 40 cars) in P13 and P11, and finished in P7 and P9 respectively. The track was cold both days with some drizzle on Saturday... but I've raced in much worse at Laguna. It was fun trying to run with the Viper's Panoz's and the wide body M3 feller. It was even more fun fighting for Turn 2 at Laguna with those giant cars... you can pretty much stick the Lotus anywhere you want in the corner and chose your line... a luxury that big heavy cars don't have. And you can outbreak anyone even with stock Exige brakes. The whole weekend, we had no contact, and not a wheel off... although some Vipers and Panoz's came within a few inches of an little love tap side by side through corners. I think I need an orange flag like ion a little kids bike.

We have more work to do on the car... data, standard fuel starvation issues, interior panels, learning the set up, etc. And I have a whole ton to learn on how to drive the car as I still consider myself a newby in the Lotus. However, this was a very positive sign and the car is garnering lots of positive attention.

I would encourage all you Exige owners to grab the 2009 SCCA GCR and start sweet talking your spouses to let you build up your cars (and Elise folks in T3 as well)! R3 can get the car built and get SCCA Tech'd for you... or even manage it as an arrive and drive. We need more cars participating. And if we get equally prepped cars for SCCA rules, we can run together in other series as well as a true spec/drivers series which would be even more fun for us all. I think the hardest thing for Lotus owners is that we all want to add more cool bits and pieces to the car either for go-fast sake or for "coolness" sake... but to get good racing series built up in SCCA, NASA, Lotus Challenge Series, I would encourage folks to build towards a spec. In the long run, we will establish a better, more sustainable environment long into the future for racing these amazing cars if we can move from ultra prepped time attack car to a very fast, fun to drive spec'd car that truly pits driver against driver and encourages improvement of skill over improvement of power. Just look at the number or Miatas and Porsche Cup cars running at nearly every track in the US nearly every weekend... they accomplished this by adhering to specs and equalizing cars.

Thanks to Ryan Negri and Rudy Courtade at R3 motorsports for the setup and support, thanks to Lotus Cars North America for rising to the challenge and helping me this last week on some items, thanks to Jim Navarro and Lotus Challenge Series crew for helping get Lotus racing legitimized and evangelized (and Glen for encouraging me to share my SCCA adventures), and my awesome fam for letting me spend Fathers Day at Laguna Seca. And I am sorry that our cars go so fast and may cause SCCA folks to scrutinize us more closely at future events. :)

I hope to see many of you at LCS at Laguna in July... this time with slicks!
 

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Awesome write-up.
 

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Could you give me a quick run down on the T2 car restrictions?

When my smog check comes due in 2 years, I need to decide if I want to continue my Exige S as a street/track car or just make it track exclusive (CA based).

I've gone over NASA rules and they pretty much setup the rules to eliminate Exige S from being competitive (either in TT or a race class). 101 db, nice, guess the SCCA pays for higher sound limits.

Rob
 

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Great write up! I'm always excited to see a Lotus being raced. :coolnana:

If you get a chance, can you post pics of your interior so i can see how you've don the safety mods - seat, cage, nets, etc. Thanks.
 

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Nicely done! Dont go too fast though or you will find yourself reclassed in T1 (i think I dont know the classes that well)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Could you give me a quick run down on the T2 car restrictions?
Here is a very rough run down... but I might be forgetting a few things... and like any discussions of SCCA reg, lots is fuzzy so it requires some creativity and at the end of the day, the SCCA tech needs to agree with your creative ways.

Minimum of 2090 pounds with driver, wheels and shocks are open, Lotus sport springs required though (that's the worst part), exhaust is open as long as it is similar to stock config, tires are DOT (Grooved Hoosiers), ECU can be reprogrammed as long as it is not physically manipulated and can be read by OBD II, you can run full data acq, race seat, fuel cell, nets, full cage and all that stuff is pretty wide open as they like members not dieing, air filter can be modified but not the air box. All aero needs to remain factory. So, you can't do a lot... but that is the joy of T2 and the Lotus... you don't need to do alot! I think the full spec can still be downloaded from the SCCA site so you don't need to buy the book. The car can still be street legal if you don't mind the full cage all around you.
 

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Thank you sir -- sounds like there are some areas left open to be creative :)

Thanks for posting.

Rob.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Nicely done! Dont go too fast though or you will find yourself reclassed in T1 (i think I dont know the classes that well)
I agree... thats why I ended with an apology! :) If we keep this up will get more weight. Next time I'll see what course record is and be more healthy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you sir -- sounds like there are some areas left open to be creative :)

Thanks for posting.

Rob.
There are probably other classes that you could run your car in with all the goodies on it. I just like spec racing as its driver versus driver and makes me work harder rather than just out spending the other guys as many series evolve into until no one can afford it.
 

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Congradulations kmarshall. Great job getting a Lotus in the record book. A track record on a car's debut! Sounds like all of the LCS events helped you get your car sorted and you have time left in the car after you get the issues sorted out.

I was suprized you have fuel starvation issues with a fuel cell. Stock resealed tank for me and I can do sustained 1.2 G left handers for 11 seconds at 1/6th tank.

I've gone over NASA rules and they pretty much setup the rules to eliminate Exige S from being competitive (either in TT or a race class).
I am guessing Scott Knott would disagree with you. I just noticed that he set the track record at Barber in TTA. Robains, If you want to be competitive in NASA TT, get your car base classed with a dyno and declared weight and all of those engine mod points and FI points will go away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was suprized you have fuel starvation issues with a fuel cell. Stock resealed tank for me and I can do sustained 1.2 G left handers for 11 seconds at 1/6th tank.
Thanks! The starvation issues only came in on the very violent turn 2/Andretti hair pin on last 4 or so laps when I was getting very very low. Since the lotus is can brake so late and this corner is fastest when you rotate deep into braking between apexes, it gets things-a-sloshing. Next time, I'll fill up the tank more. The race was a few laps longer that we planned for.
 

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Got in-car video or data that you would be willing to share? Would love to see it!

Great write up... congrats on a successful weekend! If I could afford it, I would be right there with you!
 

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suspension setup questions

That is awesome news! I've been reading this forum for awhile and have been doing open track days and have been wondering if the exige s falls into an scca class b/c I have been thinking about racing competitively. Sounds like most things are spec but I have a few questions about the suspension if you don't mind sharing. Since you have to run stock springs are you running the stock track pack springs (red) or just the regular sports springs that come standard on the exige (black i think)? I am using aftermarket sway bar with nitron shock and springs and would think the car's performance would really suffer if i went back to stock springs/roll bar b/c of WAY too much body roll. What shocks are you using? Do you use bump stops with the shocks to help the stock springs then? Are you guys using an aftermarket sway bar? Also, and maybe most importantly, what did you find was the optimal ride height/rake for the stock springs? Sorry for all the questions but would think using a stock setup would be very challenging. Sounds like you guys figured out how to control the roll somehow though if you set track record.
Thanks and congrats!
-Jack
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That is awesome news! I've been reading this forum for awhile and have been doing open track days and have been wondering if the exige s falls into an scca class b/c I have been thinking about racing competitively. Sounds like most things are spec but I have a few questions about the suspension if you don't mind sharing. Since you have to run stock springs are you running the stock track pack springs (red) or just the regular sports springs that come standard on the exige (black i think)? I am using aftermarket sway bar with nitron shock and springs and would think the car's performance would really suffer if i went back to stock springs/roll bar b/c of WAY too much body roll. What shocks are you using? Do you use bump stops with the shocks to help the stock springs then? Are you guys using an aftermarket sway bar? Also, and maybe most importantly, what did you find was the optimal ride height/rake for the stock springs? Sorry for all the questions but would think using a stock setup would be very challenging. Sounds like you guys figured out how to control the roll somehow though if you set track record.
Thanks and congrats!
-Jack
Hi Jack, Suspension development has a long way to go. We really need to work on it. The track record was due to a great power to weight ratio relative to the T2 cars of the past. But we can do better! Our goal is to better develop a combo of Nitron's and best factory springs for the job. PM me your email and I'll keep you in the loop as we figure it all out. For LCS events, I'll go back to normal Nitrons and springs though... much more fun.
 

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Hi Jack, Suspension development has a long way to go. We really need to work on it. The track record was due to a great power to weight ratio relative to the T2 cars of the past. But we can do better! Our goal is to better develop a combo of Nitron's and best factory springs for the job. PM me your email and I'll keep you in the loop as we figure it all out. For LCS events, I'll go back to normal Nitrons and springs though... much more fun.
Let me know what you find out on the spring front. I'm running the "Track Pack" option with Bilstein Shocks and progressive rate springs which are way too soft for the track and Hoosiers. Would be nice if I could go with higher rates.

Rob.
 

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I didn't realize you guys were there or I would have gone looking! It sure sounded like that group was pretty busy with all the Pirelli Cup cars added to the mix. Are you planning on running the other SF Region events this year?

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I didn't realize you guys were there or I would have gone looking! It sure sounded like that group was pretty busy with all the Pirelli Cup cars added to the mix. Are you planning on running the other SF Region events this year?

Steve
40 cars on track is always a blast! I hope to run more SF region events if the they sync up with our development schedule. Seeing the Pirelli cup cars out there and chatting with Greg (craig?), the guy that runs that series, it got me more excited for a spec series with Lotus'.
 

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I think the hardest thing for Lotus owners is that we all want to add more cool bits and pieces to the car either for go-fast sake or for "coolness" sake... but to get good racing series built up in SCCA, NASA, Lotus Challenge Series, I would encourage folks to build towards a spec.

I hope to see many of you at LCS at Laguna in July... this time with slicks!
Kevin ... for 2010 rules, LCS will be transitioning NA Stock to more of a spec class, allowing very limited mods and mostly Lotus only parts available on various versions of the stock cars. Some non-Lotus parts will be allowed for safety, reliability, driver comfort. With Lotus USA now sponsoring LCS, should now be easier to get those parts from Lotus Sports.

Prior to Lotus, all I ever raced was various formula cars, all very much spec racing, often with sealed engines. I agree that spec racing often leads to more competitive racing and hope to see that take off within LCS.

BTW ... any incidents that weekend within that SCCA run group?
I seemed to have bad luck in SCCA with my Pro Formula Mazda - kept getting crashed into a lot, even behind the pace car!!

Some rumors of getting Lotus in Koni Challenge. That would be a great series for the Lotus. Speed World Challenge isn't a good fit for the Lotus in my opinion - competition has too much HP and too much factory money.
 

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Great post!

Can you please give a bit more info on the full cage, and what size Hoosiers are you running?

Thanks in advance.
 
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