Charge!

After some months (about 4 or 5k miles) I finally found a used Greddy supercharger/Katana mounting kit, on lotustalk. It arrived somewhat disheveled, but serviceable. A good friend–actually, good mechanic and a great friend–did the Lion’s share of the install in his garage.

buns up! supercharger install

The effects were immediate, and inspiring. It didn’t take long to get used to the welcome addition of +50 WHP.

Enginetiks Dyno run post supercharger install

The vision function/”charlie-x” tune certainly smoothed out the cam switch, and if just slightly on the rich-running side, it worked very well over all. More the Elise a.k.a. “baby supercar” I’d hoped for and expected all along. The supercharger and tune along with Cup airbox and HKS exhaust proved enough to get comfortable with, and all-in-all it certainly held me over through 2012, which saw my first track days at Sonoma and Thunderhill with NASA. By this time the hardtop and Lotus LSS wheels were added.

Thunderhill trackday

2013 found me realizing a life-long dream of running at Leguna Seca. Love at first lap. Okay, maybe third. I “heart” NCRC!

I took my time to learn the line (a line, at least) and picked up some speed, gradually. What I thought would be hard seemed easy, and visa versa. From this point I start studying harder the art and science of driving faster (not studying faster to drive harder).

The Corkscrew

And yes, the gentleman in the “live axle” Mustang did let me pass (per flag), even if on the straight he could always pull away in front. And therein lay the rub… Colin Chapman himself famously said, “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”. True that.

When last at Thunderhill I rolled it on the scales for 2140 lbs., driver included. I need to lose some weight! Let’s say fighting weight would be 2100 even. 2000 even sounds better. But then the car will have to shed fat too. Or air conditioning. Perhaps then we’d both lose weight.

Leguna Seca Turn 5

How I’d love a heads-up display of real-time per-wheel 3-D dynamic force!

Leguna Seca finish

I drive in part to compete with and challenge myself, to sharpen my focus-ability, and mediate fear-responses with knowledge, discipline, and understanding. But mostly, just to fly. Maybe later I’ll challenge others too.

Lotus Leguna Seca NCRC trackday drivers

It is indeed a simply fascinating machine.

The 2005 Elise

My Bordeaux Red 2005 Lotus Elise arrived in March of 2012. Stock, save for

  • Bilstein¬†Track Pack shocks (used)
  • BOE toe links
  • New A-arm bushings
  • Braded oil lines/connectors


Such a wonderful car to drive. All of the things a Lotus is known for and ‘should’ be: light, nimble, “spirited”, and precise. A extremely distinct-feeling car. A driver’s dream car. Most mass production cars drive similarly. They’re mush. There are exceptions. German, mostly. Going from BMW’s and Ford’s and Toyota’s to an Elise is like being used to a butter knife, and being handed a surgeons scalpel.

Jeramy Clarkson’s description of the Elise as a baby supercar has somehow stuck.

Once I got used to driving a scalpel, I began to feel what it was missing. For the adage “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” I put it on the dyno. I needed to calibrate my butt.

Casey Horner of Enginetiks kindly put the Elise on his dyno:

stock Lotus Elise 2zz Engine Dyno - May 2012

stock Lotus Elise 2zz Engine Dyno - May 2012

It took a little while to this link data to my experiences, and set my butt straight. But soon I saw the writing on the chart, and started calling around and reading up on how to climb to about 250 WHP. It quickly came as a disappointment to find the retail cost of wringing that power increase out of the Toyota/Yamaha 2zz-ge plant. Its spirit, however willing, starts slightly weak in the flesh. Such that major bionics are required to boost its performance to contemporary standards. Even then, the legacy internals would remain weak, as evidenced by horror stories of catastrophic failures first track day out. In numbers, in fact.

Is “2 zzzz….” more indicative of the little engine’s personality? I would have to do what I could to help it drive like it should!