Friday, February 18, 2011

Lotus Elise Club Racer: Purity, Performance, Pleasure - A TRUE Lotus

Lotus Cup comes to North America - Over the years, the Lotus Cup Race Series has developed into one of the most successful enthusiasts race series brands in the world. Races feature capacity grids of Elise, Exige, 2-Eleven and Europa race cars racing and jostling for position. Previously operated exclusively from several countries in Europe and Japan, the Lotus Cup has now expanded considerably to include the USA, UK and Eastern Europe. Image Credit: lotuscars

Lotus Elise Club Racer: Purity, Performance, Pleasure - A TRUE Lotus

Anyone living under the misunderstanding that Lotus might be moving away from performance through lightweight due to all of the noise the release of the Lotus Evora has caused, one only needs to take a quick ride in the new 1.6 Lotus Elise Club Racer to know that this is definitely not the case. The hard working engineers at Lotus put even the lightest of Lotus’ modern cars on a diet and managed to shed a further 24kg - 52.9109429 pounds.

So how did Lotus manage to make one of the lightest models on the market even lighter?

The engineers behind the Elise Club Racer took a stripped-to-the-bare-bone approach visualized by the body-colored seats but materialized in many ways such as the motorsport derived lightweight battery and the stripping out of noise insulation. Attention to even the smallest of details has ensured that Lotus’ passion for performance through lightweight has been translated throughout the car.

For the first time ever ... an Elise variant comes complete with a Sport setting for the DPM (Dynamic Performance Management) allowing even the less experienced sports car drivers to feel at the top of their game, while the ability to switch it off completely will please the more established track orientated drivers. DPM combined with improved agility courtesy of Lotus finely tuned sport suspension and an adjustable anti-roll bar will make the Elise Club Racer equally versatile for both road and race track fun.

Wolf Zimmermann Chief Technical Officer Lotus Cars said: “The traditional Lotus approach of reduction and purity has lead to one of the most zeitgeist and contemporary sports cars around. For over 15 years the Lotus Elise has become an icon in the sports car market, carving out a niche market with a dedicated following of lightweight fans. The new Club Racer will definitely give these people something extra to get their teeth stuck into. This car epitomises everything that’s cool about the Elise – it’s fast, raw, responsive and a huge amount of fun to drive.”

Quality throughout the vehicle has been a top priority, highly regarded component suppliers such as Eibach for springs and Bilstein for dampers ensure that the Elise Club Racer is a car of quality substance as well as sporting style.

The Elise Club Racer seeks to please the eye as well as the soul with a choice of six rich and unique colors (Sky Blue - pictured above, Saffron Yellow, Ardent Red, Aspen White, Matt Black and Carbon Grey) that highlight Lotus design elements and emphasize the character of the car.

It’s pocket pleasing too, at 27,500 British Pounds - $44 676.50 / 34,450 Euros - $47 141.38 / 48,900 Swiss Franc - $51,365.10, the Elise Club Racer marks the new entry level sports car from Lotus. Also, with the Elise standard of just 149g CO2/km emissions contribution plus the weight reduction, the new Club Racer provides maximum fun without so much of the potential "green-guilt" some associate with the gentlemanly (ladies welcomed) pursuit of high performance driving.
(ht: lotuscars)

Monday, February 14, 2011

37th Annual Toyota Grand Prix Festivities Begin With C-300 Mixer

C-300 Redcoat membership display at the C-300 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach kick off mixer. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

37th Annual Toyota Grand Prix Festivities Begin With C-300 Mixer

It's that time of year, again, where the city begins to think about welcoming over 100,000 visitors to watch several races and attend activities that officially start with the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame induction ceremony on the sidewalk in front of the Long Beach Convention Center and culminates with a two-hour IndyCar race on Sunday.

For 37 years (can you believe it?), open-wheel cars with very powerful engines have been competing and the sounds of high-revving engines have echoed off of the sides of the skyscrapers along the harbor shore in downtown Long Beach.

The kick-off event that signals the beginning of this grand motor culture activity to most of the community conscious folks in Long Beach and surrounding environments is the party put on by the Redcoats of the Committee of 300, or C-300.

The C-300 & Toyota Grand Prix Kick Off Party is scheduled to be held this Wednesday - February 16, 6-9pm, at the Hotel Maya, 700 Queensway, Long Beach.

The Redcoats of the Committee of 300 volunteer each year to manage the granstands and support the activities that make up the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Long Beach Mayor, Bob Foster welcomes and applauds the efforts of the Committe of 300 at last year's Toyota Grand Prix Kick Off Party. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

More specifically, this Mission Statement excerpted and edited from the Committee of 300 -

To Promote, Support, Enrich and Direct the grandstand operations during race weekend.

To staff of the press room, photo towers, and TV carts during race weekend.

To provide a first rate hospitality area -the C300 Paddock Club- for our guests during race weekend.

To serve the community by providing volunteer support to such activities as the LA Auto Show, Christmas parades in the Long Beach area, decorating the Long Beach float for the Tournament of Roses Parade, and the Long Beach Marathon to name a few.

To promote the Grand Prix of Long Beach and its beautiful host city.

Reference Here>>

So, in about two months, and around tax filing due date time, the 37th Annual Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach - the third stop of the 2011 IndyCar Championship Series will be held with a host of motor culture events to absorb just about any fan.

Schedule Of Events - 37th Annual Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach


11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame Ceremony (Pine Ave. in front of Long Beach Convention Center)

6:00 – 10:00 p.m. Tecate Thunder Thursday on Pine Ave. (incl. Tecate Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Finals)


7:00 a.m. Gates Open

7:15 - 9:15 a.m. ALMS Practice

8:00 a.m. Lifestyle Expo Opens

9:35 - 9:55 a.m. Team Drifting Demonstration

10:00 - 11:15 a.m. IndyCar Practice

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Toyota Pro/Celebrity Practice

12:15 - 1:15 p.m. Firestone Indy Lights Practice

2:25 - 3:25 p.m. IndyCar Practice

3:40 - 4:10 p.m. Toyota Pro/Celebrity Qualifying

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. IndyCar All-Driver Autograph Session (IZOD IndyCar Series Paddock)

4:20 - 4:45 p.m. World Challenge Practice

5:00 - 6:30 p.m. ALMS Qualifying

6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Tecate Light Fiesta Friday Concert (Artist TBD)

7:00 p.m. Toyota Grand Prix Charity Ball at the Westin Long Beach


7:00 a.m. Gates Open

7:15 - 7:45 a.m. World Challenge Practice

8:00 - 8:45 a.m. Firestone Indy Lights Practice

8:55 - 9:20 a.m. Team Drifting Demonstration

10:25 - 11:25 a.m. IndyCar Practice – Split Groups

11:40 a.m. - 12:40 p.m. Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race
12:55 - 1:55 p.m. Firestone Indy Lights Qualifying 2:30 - 3:50 p.m. IndyCar Qualifying & Firestone Fast 6

4:30 - 6:30 p.m. TEQUILA PATRÓN AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES RACE (120 minutes)

6:00 p.m. Lifestyle Expo Closes

6:30 p.m. Tecate Light Rock-N-Roar Concert (Artist TBD)

7:00 a.m. Gates Open

8:00 a.m. Lifestyle Expo Open

8:00 - 8:15 a.m. Firestone Indy Lights Practice

8:25 - 8:55 a.m. World Challenge Qualifying

9:15 - 9:45 a.m. IndyCar Practice

10:00 a.m. Grid Firestone Indy Lights Cars/Indy Lights Pre-Race

10:25 - 11:30 a.m. Firestone Indy Lights Race

12:30 p.m. IZOD IndyCar Series Pre-Race Ceremonies

1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Race number 3 of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series) 3:40 - 3:55 p.m. Team Drifting Challenge 4:15 - 5:15 p.m. SCCA Pro World Challenge Championships Race

5:30 p.m. Lifestyle Expo Closes

Tickets for the 37th Annual Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach found HERE>>

Come and enjoy an evening of camaraderie with the internationally renowned volunteer C-300 citizens of the greater Long Beach community and you too can become a Redcoat and be a part of a tradition of service wrapped in motor culture and good nature.

Again, The C-300 & Toyota Grand Prix Kick Off Party is scheduled to be held this Wednesday - February 16, 6-9pm, at the Hotel Maya, 700 Queensway, Long Beach.

Be there ... and become ... a C-300 Redcoat!

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lotus Evora - Queen of Curves

Evora at Zuma Beach. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

Lotus Evora - Queen of Curves

Curves have a decided double meaning when speaking of Evora. In one manner Evora’s curves are about pure beauty and in another it’s how rapidly and safe Evora powers through corners. Considering the magnificent shapes Evora embodies, I am suggesting that the Lotus design studio had Victoria Secret catalogues around for inspiration. The design gods got their creation right. You will see different sensual lines every time you take her out; dating should be so rewarding.

Appreciate a tailored look? Direct your attention to the narrow waistline of Evora. Imagine the figure of Scarlet Johansson on the Red Carpet. With this figure were Evora dressed in red or yellow, she could easily be mistaken for one of the Italian competitors. Only Evora’s modest price-per-performance dollar would give it away as not one of the $150,000 Italians.

Evora at Zuma Beach, up close. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

Evora’s lines are purposeful rather than for mere beauty. The rear integrates a floating rear wing providing downforce while contributing to the low 0.33 drag coefficient. The design is so efficient that it eliminates the need for a weight-adding electro-mechanical wing that rises at speed, like in some Porsches. This is in keeping with the practical philosophy of Lotus Cars founder Colin Chapman of “Performance through Lightweight”.

Evora from the tail at Latigo beach on a Pacific coast day. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

Atop her sensuous curves there is Evora’s unusual roofline. The bodywork joining the rear quarter and glass to the roofline appears as two points of connecting rectangles. Think of it as the Geometric Abstraction style of Piet Mondrian’s paintings or a Giulio Lazzotti table. Perhaps these too were part of the Evora inspiration.

Evora design curves in Laser Blue. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

This is the world’s only mid-engine 2+2 on the market. For the purest, the standard 2+0 is equipped with a shelf area rather than the small rear seats. Once inside, Evora’s cockpit is unusually open, unlike the cramped even claustrophobic feel common in many sports cars. The A-pillars on modern cars are thick and often block side vision while cornering. Lotus, renowned for its superior handling, would have none of these restrictions.

In contrast to the norm, Lotus designed the Evora’s windshield so that the “A” is pulled rearward and to the side. Envision a jet fighter canopy, this may have been the designer’s muse. This functional design contributes to the driving pleasure by providing a spaceship panoramic view. Evora is designed to be much wider inside than her perceived dimensions, giving driver and passenger additional personal space.

Evora interior sweep in black. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

The layout of the interior and controls is elegant and simple with one exception. The ignition switch is hard to see and reach on the steering column. Complicating things is the engine immobilizer on the key that gives you 40 seconds to start the car once you enter. This is not very practical for a Le Mans start, or everyday use. Drawing from Lotus’ racing, a simple and appropriate fix would be a red starter button.

Evora’s interior is a cross between stylish modern Italian and functional Swedish. Features include a dash and center-shift console of aluminum, leather Recaro high back seats and a flat-bottomed magnesium steering wheel. An interesting option is the reversing camera accessible via the touch screen. Those not used to the tiny rear window or relying on the excellent side mirrors will appreciate this option.

This test car was a striking Laser Blue with black interior, and was a hit by all that saw her. Would you rather be seen around town in Chrome Orange, Storm Titanium or Phantom Black? Done, the color pallet for Lotus looks like a Dunn Edwards store and features twenty choices. Considering how exclusive these cars are you may be the only one in your market driving a Graphite Grey Evora with a Paprika interior.

Evora with a Paprika leather interior. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

A trip from Malibu to the central coast wine country allowed for participation in a rally during this five hundred mile drive. My lady passenger commented on how the comfortable seats held her in place on the twisty roads and the secure feeling at speed Evora gave her. Part of this secure feeling comes from what Lotus refers to as Versatile Vehicle Architecture. This design won the Dewar Trophy for Technical Excellence with a chassis weighing only 440 lbs. yet provides outstanding rigidity.

1925 Rolls Royce. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

A rest stop during the day's drive. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

Arriving at the vinyeard. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

Similar to Lotus racecars the Evora’s nose channels massive airflow through the radiators creating downforce at speed and lowering the drag coefficient. The result of all this downforce and its light weight can best be felt in the curves. Lean and roll are absent and the suspension does not beat up the occupants at speed, even on slippery country roads. Contributing factors to superior handling comes from a weight distribution of 39% front and 61% rear and her lean weight of 3,047 lbs. As a result Evora was never challenged beyond her outstanding abilities.

Evora's cooling system. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

The brakes are immense and provide confident stopping power. Adhesion comes from (225/40ZR18) tires up front and (255/35 ZR19) on the rear. The only annoyance was noise on deeply grooved freeways coming from the low profile tires. This is nothing unusual from other similar wheel and tire setups, once on smooth pavement everything is again quiet.

Evora has a range of wheels to choose from. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

The steering is noteworthy in its precise feel and lack of effort. There is no play in its geometry; when you turn the wheel the car responds immediately. Lotus’ World Champion drivers Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti would have demanded nothing less.

Overall, Evora’s inherent qualities sharpen ones skill level. You develop into a more competent and safe driver effortlessly. Got any cars like that in your garage?

Beautiful? Yes, Handling? Incredible. So how does she perform power wise? The power is seamless with Evora’s dual overhead cams and 4 valves per cylinder. The engine gets its linear feel from the Lotus (VVT-i) intelligent variable value timing. This allows the 3.5-liter to rev rapidly and not be short of breath at higher rpm. All of this accented with a wonderful growl from the exhaust that is absolutely addictive.

Overnight cases welcome! Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

In its current state of tune Evora turns a 0-60 mph in a scant 4.9 seconds. Evora’s power comes from its mid-engine Toyota sourced 3.5 liter V-6, producing 276 hp @ 6,400 rpm to the rear wheels. Due to its superb power-to-weight and final drive of 3.23 she reaches162 mph.

Lotus engineers developed the electronic engine controls along with the clutch and six-speed gearbox to suit their requirements. The clutch is light and the shifting is easy and precise with the floor mounted six-speed manual. A sports ratio 6-speed is optional. Gearing is nicely matched with reverse up to the far left.

If you require more power, it’s coming. By mid-year Lotus will be delivering a Supercharged “S” model. The “S” delivers 345 hp and reaches 172 mph for those track day aficionados. The 0-60 mph drops to 4.6 seconds with the “S”. While Evora is not short on power some drivers just enjoy the feel and instant respond superchargers deliver.

Taking the upmost interest in Evora during the rally was the driver of a Porsche Cayman S. He appreciated the Lotus pedigree and recognized value. Evora is serious competition for Porsche 911 and Cayman S models.

Some considering the outstanding Audi R8 4.2 for $114,200 or 5.2 at $149,000 may ask themselves the following question. Other than the 4.2 being a half second faster than the standard Evora, just what do you get for those extra dollars, that I am not getting with the Evora?

There is a mileage bonus over competitors too. The EPA ratings are 18-city and 27-mpg highway; 30 mpg plus on the highway is being reported. With its 15.6-gallon tankthis makes for an extended driving range.

Evora is not about ultimate quarter mile times or reaching speeds three times the limit. In a word, Evora is about “balance”. Evora performs exceptionally in all meaningful categories while turning heads with her beauty. Bottom line; don’t wait for weekends to enjoy Evora, this car is designed to make every day more exciting.

Evora with the Malibu pier in the background. Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

Gentlemen prefer not to be surprised publicly or discuss price. However, the best surprise is a happy one. The base price of the Lotus Evora 2+0 (rear jump seat delete) is $64,000 plus delivery and options. Brilliant!

Evora! Sound like a lady you would like to get to know? ... Search/

Lotus History and DNA

Image Credit: James Groth (2011)

Lotus Founder Colin Chapman was green before the term acquired its new meaning. He pioneered efficient performance from the use of lightweight materials and demonstrated it by winning on the track. This is the DNA of Lotus. Anyone interested in the extensive 60-year Lotus history should spend time at

Evora’s tagline is “True Character” and hers is derived from 79 Grand Prix victories, 7 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championships and 6 Drivers’ Championships in the most challenging and contested forms of automotive racing.

Certainly Mr. Chapman’s philosophy of “Performance through Lightweight ” was ahead of the industry. It’s even more pertinent in these times of preserving natural resources. Parent company Proton is investing a billion-dollars in the immediate and long-term future of Lotus while their new management team is rapidly advancing the Lotus DNA for a new century.

Anyone attending this years LA or Paris Auto Shows saw Lotus shock the automotive world by introducing five completely new models. Effectively Lotus covered the competition from Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin and upped the ante.

The new CEO Dany Bahar instigated this bold move. He was the successful Senior Vice President at Ferrari heading up global car sales, F1 Marketing, and the Brand to mention just a few of his responsibilities. His goal: “return Lotus to premium brand status and profitability”.

Actress Sharon Stone and Paul Stanley of the group Kiss unveiled two of the five new models at the LA Auto Show evidenced Lotus is not going to be a one hit wonder with the Evora. Anyone attending the press preview saw how Mr. Bahar’s philosophy translated into five new models, demonstrating his ability to return Lotus to profitability. After seeing the new models his goal of restoring Lotus to its premium brand status appears very achievable.

January 2010, Mr. Bahar tasked designer Donato Coco to design five new models using none of the existing cars or chassis. Mr. Bahar wanted them done in nine months time, ready for the Pairs Auto Show. Oh, but Coco you only have five months time before having to show them to management for approval. This simply has not been done before. Yet, Donato Coco and his team did it and got it right, to the mass approval of the public and press at these important shows.

This management team is looking unparalleled. The key managers recently came from the top European bands and know how to succeed. The only somewhat comparable in terms of PR helping return a car company to profitability would be Chrysler. In the early 80’s Chrysler showed the press and Wall Street its advanced styling with concept cars, when it had nothing but the mundane “K” car to sell. Chrysler sold the future and in that era it worked. This type of PR would not work in today’s market without the spectacular, mostly finished five new models Lotus put on display.

In conclusion, while Lotus is showing five years of the future they are also ready to challenge the sports car market today with Evora, a serious and superior car for the dollar.

Contribution By:
James Groth
Miles Ahead Communications
Malibu, CA

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

American Le Mans Series Begins 2011 As 2010 Ended - Winning

Sebring Winter Test kicks off the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón season. Image Credit: ALMS - Ryan Smith (2010)

American Le Mans Series Begins 2011 As 2010 Ended - Winning

With a rich offering of dynamic grids over the years, this season’s running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida may top them all. An impressive list of full-season entrants in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón will combine with the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup field for a 59-car grid, setting the stage for one of the most anticipated editions of America’s greatest sports car race.

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest – sanctioning body for the Le Mans 24 Hours – announced Wednesday the teams that will participate in the seven-round ILMC. Concurrently, ALMS sanctioning body IMSA released its list of full-season entrants for 2011. Together, it gives Sebring one of the largest and most diverse gatherings of sports cars it has seen in what will be its 59th running. It ties the largest Sebring field in the ALMS era, matching the 2002 grid.

Each of last year’s Sebring class winners are back for 2011 – Peugeot Sport in LMP1, Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing (up to P1 from LMP2), Level 5 Motorsports (LMPC to LMP2), Risi Competizione (GT) and Alex Job Racing (GTC). In addition, defending ALMS champions Highcroft Racing (P1), BMW Team RLL (GT) and Black Swan Racing (GTC), are on the initial Sebring entry.

A bevy of manufacturers will compete in the March 19 race. The battle at the head of the grid will be fascinating once again. In LMP1 alone, Peugeot will defend against the likes of Audi and representatives from Aston Martin, Honda Performance Development, Toyota, Mazda and Pescarolo.

The entry in GT is even more expansive with marques such as Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Panoz and Porsche. In addition, the LMP and GT Challenge classes that debuted in 2010 will compete alongside ILMC entries at both Sebring and Petit Le Mans.

“The American Le Mans Series was founded by Don Panoz as a year-round showcase of everything that makes the 24 Hours of Le Mans the greatest motor race in the world,” Scott Atherton, ALMS President and CEO said. “Having Sebring serve as the first round of this important new championship is another validation of the world-class stature of our platform and Sebring’s status in global endurance racing.”

This week features a record 31 cars participating in the annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway, only one of many pieces of noteworthy news making the rounds in the Series. A collection of drivers, teams and officials from the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón visited with media members Wednesday and the following are some of the bits of information shared at the Winter Test Media Day.

Paddock crowds are growing. Image Credit: ALMS

Atherton: Carrying the Momentum

Series President and CEO Scott Atherton remained bullish on the outlook for 2011. There is good reason, given last year’s fantastic championship battles, a full-season grid of between 35 and 37 cars for this season, and an increasing share of a coveted youth demographic.

“Last year was the first year where all four class championships went down to the final race - in one instance, it was the last lap of the final race to decide the GT championship,” Scott said. “It was an incredible level of competition and mix of winners that we’ve never had."

“There’s a lot being written about the fact that traditional sports have lost the youth market,” he added. “It’s an important part of our demographic makeup, because those are our future core fans, and it’s important to be relevant to that fan base as you look at a long-range perspective. In our category of 18 to 34 age group, from two years ago, we doubled. That has caught the attention of a lot of organizations and companies that are already involved with us and those, who for the first time, are looking to be involved with us. At a time when other areas of our industry are experiencing significant declines, that demo is headed our direction.”

Corvette’s Newcomers

Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook are growing quite comfortable at Corvette Racing.

“When I was invited to be part of the Test, I was both nervous and excited,” said Milner, who raced against Corvette the last two seasons with BMW Rahal Letterman Racing. “As Doug (Fehan) said, it is a family-atmosphere and that is exactly what it was like when I showed up."

“With Corvette Racing, no matter what session, if it was pouring down rain or blazing hot, you would always see a Corvette out in the front. I look forward to having a target on our backs and being held to that standard- and to win races.”

Milner will drive the full season with Olivier Beretta. Westbrook will team with Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin at Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans.

“It is great to be a part of the team. As you know, I am used to driving Porsches and they are quite different from Corvettes,” Westbrook said. “I would rather be racing a Corvette than racing against one.”

Corvette Racing. Image Credit: ALMS

Corvette and Road America

Chevrolet and Road America announced a multifaceted marketing partnership today that will put Chevrolet in the spotlight at one of America's premier racing venues. Chevrolet is now the Official Vehicle of Road America, the renowned Corvette Bridge will return to the historic track, and the Corvette World Tribute will celebrate Corvette's rich racing heritage.

A ceremony will be held during the ALMS race weekend in August to rededicate the famed Corvette Bridge, which spans the track at Turn 6. The Corvette Bridge was a signature landmark at the track from 1963-81, and the Corvette logo reappeared on the crossover in 1992. The Corvette World Tribute, to be held on August 21, the day following the seventh round of the ALMS, will include a Corvette racers reunion, club and pro series races, a concours, parade laps and other activities.

“When you think of iconic venues, Road America is definitely on the list,” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. “It started out as a race on the streets and then moved to a road course. What we like about Road America is how it embraces and values all the cars on the grid. The Corvette nation is excited for what’s to come at Road America.”

Secret to Lizards’ Success

According to Porsche factory driver Patrick Long, the formula for back-to-back driver championships with Flying Lizard teammate Jörg Bergmeister isn’t really that complicated.

“Our goal for 2011 is to continue on what we have been doing,” Long said. “The Flying Lizards have held the championship for three years. We don’t usually start out as favorites in pure speed or lap times. The strategy and pit stops are what we have worked on which helps us in the highly competitive field. You have to have a flawless season, not just a weekend, to defend a championship.”

The Lizards’ dynamic duo is testing out a series of updates in Porsche’s 911 GT3 RSR racer.

“There are updates with the suspension; right now we are trying to find where the car works the best at Sebring,” said Bergmeister, a five-time ALMS champion. “Also we have some aero changes along with different mufflers and restrictors to help reduce the noise on the track.”

The new car also features a paddle-shift system, which requires a bit of mental adjustment.

“Jörg and I both reached down for the gearshift and it wasn’t there,” Long cracked. “I was hoping our in-car camera wasn’t on when that happened!”

Bringing on Ferrari’s 458

Both Risi Competizione and Extreme Speed Motorsports are testing Ferrari’s new F458 this week at Sebring – the first time the car has turned a wheel in North America.

“This is the first real test for the 458,” said Risi’s Jaime Melo, a winner at Sebring three times with the Ferrari F430. “We have spent some days testing in Europe but the weather was not so nice and it was definitely not Sebring. The car has a lot of potential. We need to work on the setup some more, but the performance has been something that will only get better and better.”

Risi Competizione's Ferrari F458. Image Credit: ALMS

Speaking of the 430, how is it similar to the 458?

“The biggest difference is the engine, aero, suspension… so it is actually a completely different package,” Risi team manager Dave Sims. “There is no comparison. But we have to get it up (and ready) straightaway. The GT championship is so challenging that there is no choice.”

ESM’s Ed Brown was in Italy a couple of weeks ago at Ferrari’s official test track to shakedown the first of the team’s F458s.

“The car is unbelievable. We are working through some things right now, but it will be great,” said Brown, who will drive for the full season with Guy Cosmo. “Sebring is a huge test for the car. The biggest strain right now is to have the car race-ready for Sebring. Our crew’s goal is to shake it down to make it as reliable as possible.”

First Day Test Top Runners

Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing opened the Sebring Winter Test in strong style Wednesday with the fastest times in both sessions with its Aston Martin-powered Lola. The exotic closed-top prototype turned in a best lap of 1:50.530 (120.510 mph) with team owner Greg Pickett, Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr sharing driving duties.

Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing's Lola. Image Credit: ALMS

Of all the motivating factors driving Greg Pickett to get back behind the wheel of a race car, one simply took the cake. “I didn’t want my career to end upside down in a Porsche!”

The annual Sebring Winter Test is the first time Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing’s owner/driver has been in the cockpit since a horrific crash that left Pickett on top of a tire barrier at Mid-Ohio in August. Wednesday, Pickett got his first lap in his team’s new Aston Martin-powered Lola coupe on the first day of the two-day test.

“It’s a pretty little car,” Pickett said. “We were brokenhearted to close the door on the RS Spyder, and Porsche was sad about it as well. The Lola really does feel different, and you can feel the extra weight (around 75 kilograms). It’s nice to be able to squeeze through the GT cars easier than we did last year. For an old guy like me, it’s more fun!”

The Muscle Milk squad will race its new coupe for the first time in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón next month as part of a 59-car field for the 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. In last year's race, the Aston Martin factory team drove the car to a third-place overall finish.

Dyson Racing's Mazda-powered Lola B09/86, another prototype coupe, was second quickest at 1:51.042 (119.955 mph). Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Jay Cochran each drove Wednesday.

The 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida is set for 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 19. The race will be shown live and in its entirety on and starting at 10 a.m. ET. ABC will provide coverage from 12:30 to 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 20. Visit the American Le Mans Series’ schedule page for information on tickets and area accommodations.
(ht: ALMS)

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lotus Cup Comes To North America

Lotus Motorsport’s IndyCar driver Takuma Sato and 1996 Champ Car winner, Jimmy Vasser have also given extensive feedback having driven the Evora Cup/GT4 at the legendary Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca race circuit (pictured here in the middle of the famed "Corkscrew" turn) in early August 2010, giving Lotus’ newest race car a most diverse and comprehensive pedigree. Image Credit: Lotus Motorsport

Lotus Cup Comes To North America
Popular Lotus Cup Race Series gets a global makeover

Over the years, the Lotus Cup Race Series has developed into one of the most successful enthusiasts race series brands in the world. Races feature capacity grids of Elise, Exige, 2-Eleven and Europa race cars racing and jostling for position. Previously operated exclusively from several countries in Europe and Japan, the Lotus Cup has now expanded considerably to include the USA, UK and Eastern Europe.

For 2011, not only has the Lotus Cup grown in size, the organization of the series has been consolidated. For the first time this year, drivers will now race to one set of rules, regulations and formats in championships around the world including:

• Lotus Cup UK
• Lotus Cup Europe
• Lotus Cup Italy
• Lotus Cup USA (West Coast) • Lotus Cup USA (East Coast)
• Lotus Cup Eastern Europe
• Lotus Cup Japan
(new for 2011 in BOLD)

Director of Lotus Motorsport Claudio Berro said: “Lotus sports car racing is one of the most popular forms of accessible motorsport in the world, both at a spectator and participant level. Now is the time to bring these championships under the Lotus umbrella, to ensure consistent look and feel to the competition. This will have obvious benefits to the current drivers and encourage new racers, ensuring that the cars and components remain good value and the competition retains its accessibility.”

Lotus will provide increased support and investment for these race series and will also ensure that the new Cup Championships retain the community feel and friendliness that an enthusiast based race series needs.

The Lotus Cup Championships will receive a new identity, logos, branding, website and Corporate Identity which are aligned closely to Lotus’ new motorsport strategy and initiatives announced over the last few months and consolidated at the Autosport show last weekend.

The excitement and race heritage design of Lotus will be zipping by at a North American track in 2011 at the following venues!

Lotus Cup USA 2011 - West Coast Schedule
(subject to change)

5th -6th March
Willow Springs Raceway, Rosamond , CA

9th – 10th April
Firebird International Raceway, Pheonix, AZ

28th – 29th May
Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA

25th – 29th June
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, CA

27th – 28th August
Miller Motorsports Park , Salt Lake City, UT

24th – 25th September
Buttonwillow Raceway, Buttonwillow, CA

15th – 16th October
Spring Mountain Raceway, Pahrump, NV

5th – 6th November
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas , NV


Lotus Cup USA 2011 - East Coast Schedule

9th – 10th May
Watkins Glen International Raceway, Watkins Glen, NY

11th – 12th July
Virginia International Raceway, Alton, VA

24th – 25th September
Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham . AL

The only schedule conflict for the inaugural 2011 North American campaign participant would happen on September 24th - 25th. If one wanted to race "bi-coastal", the campaigner would have to choose between Buttonwillow Raceway, Buttonwillow, California about a two hour drive North on the 5 artery into the central valley from Los Angeles, or the latest rising star dedicated road racing track on the North American racing scene (which hosts the IZOD IndyCar Series - April 10, 2011), Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama.

The series rules may exclude a "bi-coastal" desire to race in all scheduled inaugural Lotus Cup Series races in North America ... but this does present an interesting proposition for the first time Lotus Cup Race Series participant.

For further information regarding the Lotus Cup, please contact Lotus Motorsport:

... notes from The EDJE