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My son and I attended the Lotus driving school this week at the Spring Mountain track in Nevada and had a great time. The weather was perfect this time of year, so the driving conditions were optimal (i.e., warm enough for the tires to work, but not too hard on drivers).

I'm attaching some shots of the school cars, as well as some of the Radicals and the track owner's cup car.
 

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Discussion Starter #2

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Spring Mountain offers both a one day and a two day school. Based on the advice of others who have attended, we decided to do the two day school to get more track time. As already mentioned in a previous post, Lotus did finally renew the contract with this track, so there are now several new dates available for bookings. My son has a Cayman S (as did at least one other student this week), and he'll be able to apply the principles learned to his car. It's fun to get to track cars from the school's fleet, although several of the 2005 Elises are getting pretty tired.
 

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I don't understand about the white car that has a yellow paint inside it (like under the trunk and the interior are yellow)...
 

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Scott, what did you personally get out of attending the two days there? Would you recommend doing this based on your recent experience?

- z
 

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I don't understand about the white car that has a yellow paint inside it (like under the trunk and the interior are yellow)...
I don't know what was going on with that car. It was obviously a yellow car and it looked like the white was a vinyl applied over the original paint and the decals (that you could see beneath the white overlay). Maybe it's the latest in full body Starshield.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Scott, what did you personally get out of attending the two days there? Would you recommend doing this based on your recent experience?

- z
My main goal in going (besides the fact that I hadn't been to any formal track instruction) was to work on heel/toe techniques for braking and downshifting into corners. That was an area that we practiced quite a bit in the class, both on day one and day two. They also stressed visual scanning as you approach corners, looking for the apex and exit before you commit to your turn-in. I thought the instruction was good; it included ride alongs and also lead follow, with the instructors giving running commentaries and critiques via the in-car radios. I'd recommend it based on my own experience. If you have a lot of track experience and have been to another comparable school, you'd have to decide if if it's worth it to get instruction in the Elises. It was nice driving someone else's car and not having to worry about tire wear, etc.
 

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I thought it was really good for someone will little to no track experience, or someone who doesn't own an Elise/Exige and really wants to find out the capabilities of the car. That being said, however, I found the first day to be a little too slow for my tastes as I've been heel toeing for many years now, so those practices were not beneficial for me.

Considering we probably spent more than two hours across two days on just heel toe, it got really boring.

I wish they had divided the class into groups of people who know heel toe and those that don't, and allowed those who were comfortable with it to practice something else (perhaps the oval). Speaking of the oval, I wish we were able to do more oval practice to play around with what happens when we come in too hot into the corner, what happens when we lift mid corner, etc. When I was trying to play with under/oversteer around the oval, the instructor kept telling me to slow my pace down, which really sucked because isn't the point of the oval exercises to practice controlling the car dynamics at the adhesion limits in a safe environment? Plus, we only got one 5 minute session to practice on the oval, which was not nearly enough, imo.

I wasn't very pleased with the skid car either. That thing was so artificial, it really didn't translate real vehicle dynamics when you overload the front/rear tires. I've done traction circles at drifting events, and it feels completely different from the skid car. What they should have done was wet the paddock down and allowed us to use the Elise.

The lead follow were OK, but I was disappointed that they didn't keep upping the pace after each session. I was really frustrated by the end of day one, which is the reason I opted for the Karting session, even if it meant I had to pay extra for it. Thankfully, the one kart session made the day! So much fun!

The second day was better, but I thought some of the class sessions were not needed on the second day as it was covered in the first day. Again, it may have been beneficial to someone who hasn't been through any other driving schools, but for me, I wanted to maximize the time I was on the track to make up for day one.

The one problem I did have with the ride along was that the instructor kept telling me to upshift to 4th before going into turn 4. Now, in a more powerful car, this is probably the right thing to do as you could end up power oversteering mid corner (or you have so much acceleration that you top out 3rd before the exit of turn 4), but in the NA Elise, going into 4th before turn 4 meant you were completely out of the power band coming out of the corner. By staying in third, you come out of turn 4 near the top of 3rd gear around 7200~7500RPM, allowing you to get a great run through the back straight.

Or maybe I just suck and I wasn't cornering through turn 4 fast enough. I suppose if you're cornering through turn 4 so quickly that you're toping 3rd before you get out of the corner, it makes sense that you go into 4th before entering the turn, but as hard as I tried, I couldn't hit red line in 3rd cornering through turn 4 in an NA Elise.

All in all, I still had fun in the class, but I think I could have learned more by spending the money across several track days. I hope they offer a more advanced class in the future for people with a bit more track experience looking to improve their car control skills (which they said they were planning on doing). Otherwise, I guess I'll have to save up for the Radical school.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
They handed out copies of the new (May - Dec 2008) schedule and the only class that shows full is the one on May 6-7. There are about 13 more of the two-day classes that show openings, so you no longer have an excuse not to go. The schedule should be available via www.lotuscars.com or the Spring Mountain web site.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I wasn't very pleased with the skid car either. That thing was so artificial, it really didn't translate real vehicle dynamics when you overload the front/rear tires. I've done traction circles at drifting events, and it feels completely different from the skid car. What they should have done was wet the paddock down and allowed us to use the Elise.
I agree completely with your assessment of the skid car. I feel like I have pretty good control over under- and oversteer situations and it would have been ideal to do this in an Elise on wet pavement. I'm not sure the skid car did much more than make the back seat passengers dizzy. (And I think I was one of your back seat passengers!).
 

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There is a discount for the Lotus School during the summer. I can't remember exactly but I believe it is a $300 discount plus free hotel. The class starts and ends earlier in the day.
We track our cars from early in the day until early afternoon in summer and it's not too bad.
For dates and other info call Donna at Spring Mountain, She knows more than I do.
 

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I agree completely with your assessment of the skid car. I feel like I have pretty good control over under- and oversteer situations and it would have been ideal to do this in an Elise on wet pavement. I'm not sure the skid car did much more than make the back seat passengers dizzy. (And I think I was one of your back seat passengers!).
I'm so sorry about that! Haha, I felt so bad for making you sit through all my spins. Everything about the skid car felt wrong to me. It didn't make sense that I had to put in 3X the countersteer than you would need in real life. I was thinking about it afterwards, and I think I should have gone in with a mindset that we were driving on black ice with normal tires. :shrug:

I really enjoyed that track through! I loved going through the two high speed sweepers (4&10). I hope I get a chance to run on that track again soon.
 
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