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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all - close to getting an Elise and it seems introductions could be in order. I actually have a few posts under my belt here, but they have mainly been in the FS forum. I've also scoured the forums and searched on a couple of topics of interest.

I currently go to or 1 or 2 HPDE weekends a year, which is about all I can manage with young kids. I track an almost-as-light-as-an-Elise modded VW Scirocco. I don't drive the car other than to and from the events though, and I've been looking to get a RWD 3rd car that I will drive more often than my VW. I've outgrown the Scirocco to an extent.

I'm a bit concerned about the track actually given the lack of RWD experience and the much higher limits of the Elise. The Scirocco has always really suited me because I can basically go out full speed with little concern for damaging the car. I feel safe driving at the limits, not something that I will be able to say with a Lotus, and I manage to pass much (much) higher HP cars on Shenandoah circuit at Summit Point. Shenandoah is my preferred track as I can generally meet friends there. I have yet to get to VIR, which is equally close, with the excuse that the Scirocco would be puttering along on the long straights. The Elise is obviously the opposite of the Scirocco in the "under-the-rader, low expectations' factor, which is another thing I like about the VW.

Top concerns:

1) From the videos in the track day forum, it would seem Elise owners are used to spinning...something that is nearly impossible in my VW. That has me worried.

2) My driveway is a steep descending driveway :panic:

In the Richmond, VA area if anyone is around. Looking forward to learning even more and hopefully contributing some too. Great forums. :up:
 

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Get a Miata. You will learn how to drive a RWD car, have fun, it will be cheap, and you will not cry that bad when you wreck it. Racing an Elise is waiting for a $10K bill for the clams.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Most spins are the result of bad driving.

For me, the car dances at the limits and requires minimal steering/ throttle to correct any oversteer.

We want you on our team.
Well thanks for the vote of confidence. When I see 10+ people chime in on why the car spun, and they all have different theories, it doesn't make me think bad driving. It seems the cars are very sensitive to tires and alignment. The VW is nothing if not predictable.

Hopefully I can reprogram my brain from "lift = useful rotation" to "no lift" and "power on way early to "pull" me through a turn" to putting the power in later. I'm thinking I'll need to return to having an instructor, which is kind of a bummer.

No matter what, I'm looking forward to owning one of my dream cars even if people make driving it around town sound like a nightmare of unexpected opportunities to ruin your car or be run over by an SUV.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Get a Miata. You will learn how to drive a RWD car, have fun, it will be cheap, and you will not cry that bad when you wreck it. Racing an Elise is waiting for a $10K bill for the clams.
I've had some fun ride alongs in Miatas. Very fun. One instructor with a Miata said the Scirocco was the closest he had come to a FWD Miata (I'm not sure that is saying much). You make good points, but it Miata just isn't for me. I couldn't get excited about having that as a third car. I wouln't be looking to take it to work over my daily driver like I would a Lotus. I did look at 2005 S2000 as another option, which I view as a median step between a Miata and an Elise. They are, however, not that much cheaper than an Elise at this point (not enough to not pull the trigger on a Lotus, anyway).

Also think track day insurance would be a good investment for piece of mind.
 

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I've gone the whole route on the track from novice to competitor to instructor to spectator.

"Something" can always happen on the track that'll make you take your car home as a ball of scrap material. Might not be your fault. A guy behind you who lost his brakes may end up using you to slow down and you end up using the wall as the crumple zone.

I went from M3's and S4's to prepared Neons and CRXs. Why? If I did have to take home the ball of scrapmetal, I could live with it. I say to go with a Miata. Lots of people have track versions, more aftermarket and race support than you can imagine and you learn RWD. Not enough power? Get a supercharger or turbo. Still not enough, drop a small V8 into it. I went the cheaper route with a former SCCA IT car, so it was caged ($1500), with track suspension ($3000) and everything else needed to make it work on the track. 87 CRX. My hoosiers would heat cycle out before wearing out because the car was so light. I was faster than SSA cars (E30 M3, Corrado etc).

Otherwise, get insurance for the day. You can buy dammage insurance.
 

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Amen to "never lift", or more accurately, "never lift fast".

It's all about weight transfer and inertia. I'll bet you will do just fine given your background and the nature of your question.
 

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Get a Miata. You will learn how to drive a RWD car, have fun, it will be cheap, and you will not cry that bad when you wreck it. Racing an Elise is waiting for a $10K bill for the clams.
Uh, no, don't get a Miata and don't be scared. Yes, if you bring it to the track and you push it hard you will eventually spin it - but that's pretty true for most any car. Essentially you'll make a mistake at some point - how bad is up to how hard you push. Saying you're looking at a $10k bill for the clams is stupid - I've tracked my car extensively for 3 years and the worst I've done there is a few new splitters (well and a blown engine but that was just bad luck).

As for your driveway you'll just need to get someone to bring a car over and test it. Mine just _barely_ makes it up mine without incident. When it was delivered I had a bit of a "oh sh!t" moment when I saw how close it was to the ground.

If you've never driven one on track be prepared to be blown away - your Scirocco will feel like a boat after one session in the Elise...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
^Thanks. I have traded some PMs with a local owner, but not sure I want to ask him to test his clearance on my driveway.

I'm sure I'll be blown away, mainly by the dynamics, but the Scirocco is a pretty sprightly little car on a tight track. It has about 125 at the wheels and is ~ 2100lbs stripped.

However, while I don't believe in luck or jinxes, I just got an email that the car I thought I was on the way to buying is no longer for sale...at least until the owner gets back from some business travel. :sad:
 

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Really it depends on your goals IMO. If priority #1 is to get fast faster, then a miata is probably a good choice.

If on the other hand you're only doing HPDE a couple times a year and for fun, get the lotus and take out track insurance when you go.
 

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Second on what Ross said. The car is like a 911 in a sense, just not as pronounced. If you abruptly lift you will spin-- ask me how I know-- but on most tracks I've been there are only a few areas where going sideways will cause you to hit anything. OTOH, the limits are pretty darn high, so keeping your foot down and muttering "oh sh**" usually gets you through.
 

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I'm thinking of getting a nice mr2 down the road and take that to the track before I take the Lotus... this car is so different compared to the AWD subaru
 

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My old 87 MR2 was my first RWD car. RWD basically showed me all of the FWD mistakes were no more. My biggest thing about FWD was control. I would always loose it when exceeding the limits of the car. In the MR2, every time I lost control, it was like second nature to correct it. My first car FWD had 9 crashes ( teenager ), my Second RWD car had 3. My 3 car was a RWD and I have never had an accident in it. My 2001 spyder(sold off the 87) to this day has no accidents ( knocking on wood) . My point... I dont think you will have any issues aside from driving in the snow, unless you fill the trunk/hood with snow.
 

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Amen to "never lift", or more accurately, "never lift fast".

It's all about weight transfer and inertia. I'll bet you will do just fine given your background and the nature of your question.
Thomasio nailed it :)

Get the Elise!! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #17
2005 Chrome Orange. Hard and soft tops. Sport and Touring. Stg. II exhaust. Otherwise unmodded.

I picked it up in SC and drove it back to Richmond, VA. The ride home went well. I got familiar with the car pretty quickly. It does require some attention as the steering is so direct and quick. I hit pretty long stretch of rain but did fine on the tires. I was a bit stiff after the ride but it wasn't so bad. It was louder, but not too much louder, than my Scirocco (not that I would want to drive that 6 hours either).

I knew to expect some attention from others but was a bit surprised at the picture takers and extent of the gawking. Kids are the best. I ended up driving slower than I normally do as I felt I was sticking out a bit (that and the lack of license plates...had a trip permit in the window). Cops were definitely out for Labor Day weekend. I did get on the cam twice on entrance ramps and the car really comes alive at that point. Rather addictive.

Brakes work well and were well tested when an elderly couple tried to bend the laws of physics by occupying the space I was currently in. I wasn't sure of the traffic to the other side so I stood on the brakes. They had no idea how close they were to me.

On the off chance any reads this thread and gets this far in the post, I have some questions/observations:

1) AC was completely insufficient on I85 in that heat. It was like a hot box. Once there was some shade, I dropped the windows and that was much better. It was working...just weak. Typical?

2) The plastic panel around the engine start and headlight buttons came loose in the dash at one point. Looks like one of the clips is broken. Where is the best place to shop for replacement of basic plastic bits?

3) Had do you know if the steering rack is "going bad"? I understand they have a relatively short life span.

4) There is a relatively loud release of air when shifting...almost like a blow off valve in a forced induction car. I assume it is some air pump. Normal?

I'm already in love with the car. :bow:
 

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Absolute power does what?
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Congrats on picking her up and welcome to the club!!! A few answers:

1) Fairly typical - I describe mine as an asmatic blowing at me through a straw. You should be getting cold air out of it so perhaps you just need a charge. There is a great thread on improving the AC system, LOTS of changes you can make (sealing things up, adding insulation, etc). I just never use mine (not too bad in Denver).

2) For OEM replacement parts try Lotus Garage - pretty common that the clips that hold that piece in snap (clips are at the top, screws at the bottom).

3) I think you'd feel a clicking when turning - I've never heard they have a short lifespan. Mine as 30k miles on it (MANY track miles) and I haven't had any issues.

4) Do you know if it has an aftermarket intake? I have the Fujita and have a similar sound. Mine is more when I get on the throttle, there is a little pop/rush of air. When the car was first delivered I thought it had a supercharger given the way it sounds. As far as I know there is no air pump anywhere so it's coming from somewhere else. Doesn't sound bad to me though.

You'll find something new to love about it every time you drive it - so long as you consider random pops, cracks, and creaks something to love!!

-Ross
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well thanks Ross! The car in your avatar picture looks like pure evil, and I mean that in the best possible way. I feel like my orange car may glow in the dark.

1) Will check that out. Thanks. I think my leg was resting against the sill for a long time before I realized it was baking so that didn't help either.

2) It came loose at the top and bottom so maybe a broken clip and lost screw. Good to know it is relatively common.

3) OK - no clicking. I thought I had another symptom but it could have easily just been my unfamiliarity with the car and the "interesting" noises it produces at times.

4) Good question. Will check that. It isn't a sound that made me worry but would like to track it down nevertheless.
 

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Congrats on your purchase. I'm sure you'll love it. I've had the experience of people taking vids/pics, etc out of SUV back seat windows a ton of times. And my Elise is probably the least "loud" color.

Look around Lotus-Talk for the AC. You can do a number of modifications. One is to reroute the heating water around the heater during the summer. The AC air is heated by the heater when the circulator pump turns on to cool the heads a bit. There's also air that will come from the hot radiator in and warm you. Block that. Tinted windows helps too.

Look into the oil hose crimps. Look in the engine lubrication section for a number of ways to fix this potential problem if it has not already been done.

It's a fun car (although 500 pounds heavier than my CRX racecar :) )
 
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