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Discussion Starter #1
I'm guessing that this topic has been covered before, but please bear with me...

My first day at track school was Wednesday, covered here: http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=986950

It was really fun. I went back to The Driveway today for one of the open track sessions for the folks that had finished the intro.

Well, I sucked. At the beginning, I was all over the track. I got better, and eventually recovered similar times from Wednesday. As a little time has passed, I realize that I suffer from a couple of personal faults. One is the urge "to GO". The other is to "GO MORE". Late braking results in panic lifting off the throttle, inappropriate (subsequent) braking and other mistakes. Failure to look ahead is another issue I suffer from.

Today, I came a few feet feet from smacking a wall. This wall is generously placed 10 or 15 feet away from the asphalt. I want to practice driving. Um, holy sh!t. And stuff.

My question is this: what is a decent track car that isn't pricey? I want to balance cost with performance.

I'm ok with a wrench and willing to learn. Can I spend 10 to 15 thousand bucks on a Miata for track time? I'd be happy to add shocks, tires, etc.

Are there any track junkies here in Austin I can meet in person for some expertise?
 

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Hi Chris,

If you're just getting into HPDE, you don't need to spend anywhere near 10-15K and add shocks/tires on top of it, but you're right on the ball with a Miata :) Head over to Miata.net and look at the classifieds - with a little patience you can probably find one with all the stuff you need for well under 10K.

I'm in Austin, and have instructed with Houston's LOST club as well as some other groups out west, and would be happy to get together with you and share my experiences :)
 

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I'm going to take a contrary position. Your car is telling you things about your driving, line, etc. You have already begun to "hear" what it is telling you in your recounting of your second track experience. Driveway is short and technical, rewarding proper technique with lower lap times, but punishing poor technique with an awkward feeling or even a spin, but at low speed and minimal vulnerability to a serious encounter. This is a teaching course, and you must remember that you are a student. Student is not a pejorative term - even the best drivers remain students, learning from each lap.

From the sound of it you are trying to force speed through the corner (early apex). Proper apexing allows you to carry speed through the corner, leaving the corner at a higher rate of speed than otherwise might be possible. It just takes awhile for this to become intuitive in the mind of those of us who have come to rely on power.

I would encourage you to go back to Driveway with your Elise. Concentrate on line, while deliberately driving slower than you know your care is capable of going. Drive this way until you are fully comfortable with the line, then gradually work on braking as you add speed.

You should also do track days elsewhere (Texas World Speedway is not that far), where you can do more instructor time. Nothing like having an instructor to remind you of the rules when the adrenalin starts to flow!

Good luck!

Jerry
 

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The question you need to ask yourself is can you afford to walk away from the Elise if you put it into the wall. Yes, then keep driving the Elise. No, get something cheaper that can be repaired like a Miata or a Spec Racer Ford. I'm partial to formula cars like FFord, F500, or FVee, but you would be extremely limited on being able to do track days with an open wheel car.

I don't care how good you are, if someone in front of you has a fluid leak and the corner workers don't see it to get the flag out, then are in for an uncontrollable ride, potentially into a wall through no fault of your own. If you are driving the Elise, then the car probably totalled. If it is a Miata or SRF, then odds are you can repair it.
 

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Chris, I'm a relative novice to track driving, but I joined the Harris Hill Road facility a few months ago and would recommend checking it out if you haven't been there yet. If you are signed up for the May 11 Spokes event, you'll get to see and drive on a pylon limited version of it. Or, you can leave your house now and get out there for the 11:00 a.m. free track time for visitors and prospective members. There are no concrete walls--the runoff areas are dirt and grass. Fun track for Elises and Miatas.
 

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I'm with Jerry. You need more seat time and instruction. If you want to lower the risk by getting a cheaper car, that's cool, but don't expect to master performance driving after only a few days at the track. Almost nothing you learn on the road translates - actually mostly bad habits really. So, it's going to take some time to get the hang of it all. So, get a good instructor, slow down a little, and don't worry about times. It won't take you long...:up:

Also, while I have no personal experience with the Driveway facility, I have heard that it's a converted cart track, and it's rather narrow. As such, it doesn't allow much room for passing or runoff. You might want to find a facility with a little more room. Again, I'm just going off of what I have heard.

Good luck, and enjoy!
 

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How much autocross experience do you have? It's a great way to build up the reflexes of car control without the risk of putting it into a wall. It also gives you a good sense of the lines to take through corners.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
How much autocross experience do you have? It's a great way to build up the reflexes of car control without the risk of putting it into a wall. It also gives you a good sense of the lines to take through corners.
I've been to 3 or 4. My experience on the track last week was pretty different than autocross.
 

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I've been to 3 or 4. My experience on the track last week was pretty different than autocross.
:clap:

Focus on your driving, not on going fast - the speed will come naturally as your driving improves.
Make the trek to MSR in Cresson. It's about as safe a track as you'll find in the state.

That said, if you want to go cheap - a Miata is tough to beat.
Fairly tough little cars and tons of support out there.
 

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:clap:

Focus on your driving, not on going fast - the speed will come naturally as your driving improves.
Make the trek to MSR in Cresson. It's about as safe a track as you'll find in the state.

That said, if you want to go cheap - a Miata is tough to beat.
Fairly tough little cars and tons of support out there.
^
|
What he said..also a Miata won't cost $40,000 to repair in the event of an oops.
 

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I've been to 3 or 4. My experience on the track last week was pretty different than autocross.
LOST (Lotus Owners South Texas) is having a club track day at the Houston Police Academy on May 31 -- it's a great environment and structured well for beginners - casual, no pressure atmosphere and only 2 cars on track at a time. safe, safe course (Houston Police academy) that's sort of a cross between a really big autox and a really small track.

I generally instruct at those things, but will unfortunately be out of town that weekend, but there will still be instructors available. If you feel like making the drive, pm me and I'll get you signed up.
 

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The Elise is a great track car, keep it. What you need is better instruction,
not a cheaper (shuntable) car. If, at some point in the future you want to race w2w or find you always like to run at 90%+ during HPDE's get
something you can afford to crash. There's alot of guys that track Gallardo's and Ford GT's at 70-80% and are happy with that (expensive cars run at a less risky level). Back off in your Elise and work on the basics. Remember, it's not a race!
 

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I've been to 3 or 4. My experience on the track last week was pretty different than autocross.
Good. Keep at it! Yes, in many ways, they are very different experiences. :) But I've found, after doing both for many years, that the skills from one translate well to the other. Autocrossing will allow you to build up the kinesthasia required for high performance driving. You'll learn the nuances of what the car is trying to tell you, and gain the reflexes to deal with it. All in an environment that doesn't pose much risk to your property. :)

Oh, and you can always pick up a used sportbike for $4000 or so... :D
 

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I agree that if you decide to get a 'shuntable' car the early 90's MR2 is going to behave much more like an Elise than a Miata will. The Miata will be a lot more forgiving, and will make you feel like a better driver than you really are.

The Miata will for example, let you get on the brakes while turning fast and will just understeer -- not spin (mine will anyway). The Miata is fun, but it lets you keep lots of bad habits that will get you in big trouble on the track in an Elise.
 

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Keep in mind that with a Lotus there are a number of scenarios that don't require hitting a wall to be very costly.

Drop two wheels off an exit, catch a rut that damages the front suspension, and you've bought a new monocoque. If you tear up up a clam as well...you are getting close to totalled on an '05 Elise.

You can certainly have a lot of fun with a Lotus at the track, but you never want to push the limits -- AND you still have to be willing to write off the car if someone else's coolant, etc., can catch you out.

Miatas are great fun and probably the best bang for the buck for a track car -- especially if you keep them street legal enough to drive to/from the track. If you want to tow and have a true racecar feel, Spec Racer Fords are a bit faster and with their mid-engine layout, have handling somewhat analogous to a Lotus (i.e., lift going into a corner and you'll be going around, etc.).

Steve
 

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I have raced miatas for over 7 years now and also raced Formula Mazda, GT3 Cup, Formula Vee, even a vintage IndyCar and my favorites are still Miatas. I will track my Elise, Gallardo, Viper and other cars over the years, but when I want to hang the car out, I return to the Miata. Huge support network, inexpensive parts, good driving dynamics, reliable, and with a turbo faster than an Elise.

I just won, overall, the 4 hour NASA enduro at TWS in my turbo Miata mule - there were multiple M3s, a Porsche 911, and other fast cars there, too.

And come to Cresson - I happen to run a school here that I like to think is outstanding.

www.apexdrivingacademy.com at www.motorsportranch.com
 

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Very cool Keith..congrats.I was going to do the Nasa TWS event this weekend and was looking forward to checking out the enduro, but opted to hold out for Cresson next week.
 

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I have raced miatas for over 7 years now and also raced Formula Mazda, GT3 Cup, Formula Vee, even a vintage IndyCar and my favorites are still Miatas. I will track my Elise, Gallardo, Viper and other cars over the years, but when I want to hang the car out, I return to the Miata. Huge support network, inexpensive parts, good driving dynamics, reliable, and with a turbo faster than an Elise.

I just won, overall, the 4 hour NASA enduro at TWS in my turbo Miata mule - there were multiple M3s, a Porsche 911, and other fast cars there, too.

And come to Cresson - I happen to run a school here that I like to think is outstanding.

www.apexdrivingacademy.com at www.motorsportranch.com
Congrats, Keith!

And to second what he said, the turbo Miatas are @#$!! fast! It's a hoot to watch them beat up on the bigger cars.
 

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buy someones already built spec miata.
drive the piss out of it, and learn to drive it well its a great car, and when you become hooked, youcan take the same car and go race with a large group of other equal cars.

when you make your mistake, it wont cost you your entire wallet.

you can learn the difference between late breaking and trail braking in the miata very easily; one is fast, one is not.
I usually use late braking for making passes in races, its not fast, but you can gain position with it, trail braking is fast, and some corners require it to be taken just right.
ditch the lotus, before you wad it and then have to start a thread where you are crying in your rice crispies and lamenting your lost car.

also take keith up on his offer about his school!!!!!
have fun, life after the lotus is much better than the "kool-aid drinkers" think;)
 
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