Saturday, October 27, 2012

Season Wrap Up

YOY comparisons

2011 - pax standings - 53rd of 91, score 4502
2012 - pax standings - 55th of 92, score 4592

So I got almost 1% closer to the fastest cars out there, but so did everyone else! I also believe that the top cars got somewhat faster given the larger number of trophies brought back from nationals this year.

2011 - 2nd place, 2 of 13 drivers qualifying, 35 points
2012 - 2nd place, 6 of 20 drivers qualifying 38 points

So last year I was 2nd and last among drivers qualifying for a trophy (by attending 5 races or more), but this year I'm 2nd of 6. To some extent this is due to an enhancement of the lower end of the field however. The car that beat me last year got at least as much faster this year as I did, so I'm in no way closer to first place. But as mentioned many times previously, he's actually prepped his car to the max, and I'm a total slacker on that front, so no surprises there.

2011 - 2 firsts, 1 second, 2 thirds in 6 races - 4 trophies
2012 - 1 first, 2 seconds, 4 thirds in 9 races - 3 trophies

So I brought home a little less hardware this year. I blame my co-driver :) He stole it! (he beat me the last 3 events we raced! eek!

2011 - vs. Matt Neiman - I won 3 of 5 races in the season.
2012 - vs. Mat Neiman - I won 2 of 7 races in the season

Matt got his car sorted out this year, and it's got bigger tires, a properly installed sway bar, and is more or less fully prepped (except he needs a WING! :) ). 

As for vs. Russ Sigglekoe and his super-stock elise... I still haven't beat him, but I came within 0.1 sec once... Next year.... :)

2012 Highlights

The National Tour! I got my vehicle weighed (1877 lbs), got my vehicle stickered up, and got my butt handed to me by the car that eventually won 3rd place at nationals. I also got off line and into marbles and blew my best run on day 2. Oh well, still was a blast, and I didn't seriously expect to be competitive at the national level yet.

The Co-driver! David's been lots of fun to drive with, and is now providing me with excellent competition. No car prep level excuses anymore! Tires are now warmer on cold days, and the last race actually provided some evidence that perhaps I now need to guard against pressure rise due to tire temps...

The Wing! At the beginning of the season Experienced drivers said things like "I've never driven a lotus that was trying to kill me before" after driving my car. Now they say things like "Wow, this thing's fun!"

SSM has become one of the biggest classes at NER. Most of the cars are still woefully under prepared, but first you get people, then they start competing and the cars get better :). Several events SSM rivaled STX for attendance (though STX still has a better average driver skill level)

2013 Prognostications & Goals

  1. Dog-fight for placement with David! 
  2. More competition in SSM - Leafy is building an SSM miata, My co-driver as mentioned above, I'm sure Don will be back with his CRX, plus whomever else new shows up... Next year will be FUN. 
  3. Goal: Hang on to 2nd place. 
  4. Goal: Cut the average time diff between me and the CRX by 1 second. This season, excluding the event where their power steering puked all over and the car setup was unmanageable the average amount they beat me by was 1.2 seconds. Don may get a little faster as a driver, but I doubt that the car can get much faster. I suspect it's pretty much maxed. Given that don's a trophy winner at nationals, my driving probably has a lot further to improve than his, plus there's lots that can be done to my car
  5. Goal: Move the front splitter forward, add front downforce and perhaps move the wing back up to maximum deflection, stiffer rear motor mount to cut down on wheel hop at starts & put more power to the wheel (less into flexing the motor mounts).
  6. Stretch Goal: Improve the car with OS Giken LSD + lightweight flywheel & clutch. Still quite unsure about the ability to find the funds, but I did find a way to get the costs under $3k for the LSD now (previous estimates all put the labor price over 3k before any parts). All I have to do is learn how to get the tranny in and out and ship it cross country. The plus is that the install would be done by the same folks who built the 4 time national champion XP lotus, so one can be pretty sure they know their stuff. 
  7. Goal: Keep an eye on tire temps - an area for investigation next year. My pressures 5-10 min after the last run in the moss event were up over 4 lbs from initial temps. They might have been up another pound or more when I drove off course, given that there was a decent breeze. Furthermore, I definitely experienced a couple points at which the stopping power seemed reduced vs prior runs on the last run. David however had his best run immediately prior. Not sure if that means I'm just full of excuses, or if it means he put better heat in the tires on that final run. I've got a good tire gauge now so no reason not to be checking!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ferrari Owners

Having owned an elise for a while I've sort of become used to it. I also didn't have any real sports car experience before I bought it, so to a certain extent I'm spoiled. I suspect I don't quite know how an elise really compares to other sports cars. It's kind of hard to get perspective by reading posts on Lotus Talk, since it's full of lotus enthusiasts and so one sort of expects folks there to say good things, or to be bitter about something.

Recently I ran across a very interesting post on Ferrari Chat that seems to be a window into how the elise is viewed by Ferrari owners. One of the regulars there was contemplating getting an elise or exige, and asked for opinions. Given that Ferraris have a sticker prices upwards of 5 times that of an elise, my expectation was that there would be a bit of snobbery and upturned noses.

To my surprise I found almost none of that kind of attitude. Many of the respondants turn out to be current or former elise owners, but it's clear that most of them can own whatever car they feel like. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Flash G:
It will be the best handling car you ever drive (short of an Ariel Atom). The grip is insane and the communication/feel from the wheel is second to none. 
Not wanting to be disrespectful but I must respond to someones post. I own an Erial Atom 3 with 300 hp and the Lotus is hands above the Atom on handling. The Atom of course is a good to fair handler that has stunning acleration that you do not get with the Lotus. The quote for the Atom manufacturer was 0-60 at 2.85 seconds. Not sure if it is true but it is quick and makes other cars feel slow. My Mosler is a tad quicker and my ZR1 is a little slower 0-60. 
i've driven a SC K20 atom in anger a few times and tracked a whole slew of S1 exige race spec, elise S2, elise S2 with 350hp turbo, opel speedsters etc... imo, the elise handles better than the very competent atom. however not much beats the atom for crab walking when u stomp on the loud pedal. 
Finally, there is really no other car that is within 1000 lbs of curb weight and when you drive a car that weighs under 2000 lb you will always view even 911s, Ferraris and other sports cars as fat toads in comparison.
If a Maclaren F1 was 90's F1 tech on the street then a lotus elise is 80's F1 tech in anaffordable package for the street... ...My boxer has become more of an ornamental pice since the lotus arrived...
As a side note, this past weekend NER held the Stirling Moss championship, and a non-points event along side it. A ferrari owner showed up with a 458, and unlike some of the other super-car owners who have showed up in the past he turned out to be quite cool, had a good time, and it sounds like he might return. This is a refreshing change versus some of the other super car drivers who left halfway through because there were folks with 1990's civic SI out driving them (nevermind the years of experience the civic drivers had).