West Coast Lotus Meet early registration ends soon


The West Coast Lotus Meet (WCLM) is heading to the Emerald City of Seattle, Washington in the summer of 2013! Members of the Evergreen Lotus Car Club (ELCC) are hosting the 2013 WCLM in conjunction with the Southern Nevada Lotus Club, Lotus Owners of Phoenix, Club Lotus Northwest, Lotus Car Club of British Columbia and the Golden Gate Lotus Club.

With Mt Rainier, Puget Sound and the city of Seattle as backdrops, the 2013 WCLM will be four days of total Lotus celebration that will start with a bang on July 4th.

The current Chairman of the ELCC, Doug Jackson said, “The ELCC is excited to host the 2013 West Coast Lotus Meet to welcome enthusiasts of all kinds to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate everything that is great about the marque.”

“Our 2013 WCLM Committee has planned a very full four days of events that include a WCLM Casual Concours, a visit to the Flying Heritage Collection, a WCLM Autocross, a Lotus Corral at the Pacific Northwest Historic Races, Parade Laps of the famous Pacific Raceway, an exclusive visit and banquet at the newly opened LeMay – America’s Car Museum, awards, dinners, spectacular scenic drives and an optional track event!”

What can you expect at the 2013 WCLM?

  • Opening Reception & Dinner
  • See WWII Fighters and other vintage planes at the Flying Heritage Collection
  • Scenic drives over some of Washington’s finest “Lotus” roadways
  • WCLM dinner at the Snoqualmie Casino
  • Las Vegas style gaming or enjoy the Cigar & Brandy Lounge at the Snoqualmie Casino
  • WCLM Autocross
  • WCLM Lotus Corral at the Pacific Northwest Historic Races
  • WCLM private dinner and tour at the LeMay – America’s Car Museum
  • WCLM Lotus-only Car Show, product demostration and hosted Bar-B-Que at Griot’s Garage
  • Meet Lotus enthusiasts from around the world

The 2013 WCLM will be headquartered at the Red Lion Inn in Bellevue, Washington. Discounted rates have been negotiated for everyone attending the WCLM and there will be a special complimentary parking area to accommodate all of our cars, plus there will be car washing facilities available during the entire WCLM.

Head over to the official West Coast Lotus Meet website for registration and more information about WCLM 2013. Early registration ends on March 18th!!!

WCLM Banner

Laguna Seca Track Day registration is now open (3-April-13 event)

Registration is now open for the Golden Gate Lotus Club’s second track day of the year at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterrey, California on Wednesday, April 3rd. We will be running (3) run groups with approximately 20 minute sessions each. Your options will be Advanced Group, Intermediate Not-So-Fast Group, and Intermediate Fast Group. There are a limited number of Beginner slots available and those entrants will run in the Not-So-Fast Intermediate group. Beginners will be required to have a coach assigned to them to ride in the passenger seat in order to enter the track.

Price is $170 for members and $190 for non-members.

Click here to sign up via MotorsportReg.

This event will fill up fast so be sure to sign-up early to ensure you get a spot. Due to the restrictions imposed by Laguna Seca on the number of cars allowed on the track at one time, there will be no bridging of run groups as we normally do at other venues. Also, be aware that there will be absolutely no refunds. If you cancel before March 15th and we can fill your spot, we will give you a rain check for a future event. Only sign up if you know you can attend. We will run this event rain or shine.

Also, THIS WILL BE A 92dB EVENT! DO NOT BANK ON LIFTING AT THE SOUND CHECK – if your exhaust or intake is loud, please take measures to reduce your levels before the event.

Please read your confirmation email as it has been expanded to include the general schedule.

See you at the track,

John & Scott

GGLC Autcross Resigtration is now open

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2013 Golden Gate Lotus Club autox season.

The first event of the season is now open for registration for club members at MotorsportsReg.

The price is the same as last year. First time autox’ers (first time at a GGLC event) are eligible for a discount, so invite your friends along too. Non-members will be able to register one week later.

This season we have 8 classes that you can participate in. Please read over the details on the club autocross page.

For Lotus Elise/Exige/Evora drivers, please choose your class that you want to participate in and also use the classification tool to calculate your index points. For non-Lotus cars, please use the appropriate SCCA class.

The full schedule for this autocross season is:
Sat, March 9
Sat, April 6
Sat, May 11
Mon, May 27
Sat, Aug 24
Sun, Sept 22
Sat, Oct 26
Sat, Nov 9

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this year’s events or any other autox topic.

See you all next month,

GGLC Autocross Chair

What’s Going to Happen with Group Lotus?

It has been a tumultuous 3 year span for Group Lotus that began with Dany Bahar’s placement as the head of Group Lotus. The Evora was launched and then a few months later came the Paris Auto Show where Bahar introduced the world to 5 concept cars from Lotus and stated that these new concepts were the face and future of the “new” Lotus. At the same time Bahar more than implied that the new launched Evora was not a car that fit into the new Lotus. Consumers are not stupid; they could read Bahar’s tea leaves and Evora sales slowed.

Dany Bahar with the Lotus Elite concept @ LA Auto Show 2010

I was not alone in being baffled by Bahar’s lack of support for the Evora. His own business plan relied upon strong sales of the Evora to pay the interest on the loans he had received from the banks to help fund the 5 car plan. Yet, it seemed that Bahar was dooming his plan by shooting the Evora in the head.

In the following year came “tie-ins” with Swizz Beatz, the Baldwin brothers and other celebrities. And the Lotus Motorsports group seemed to have a bottomless pit of monies to sponsor Renault F1, LeMans cars, ALMS cars, Indy cars, FIA Rallye teams and more. And there were huge parties before the Paris and Los Angeles shows with celebrity guests and private limos and more.

Of course there was the row between Lotus-Renault F1 and Tony Fernandes Team Lotus F1 team. But, I’ll not go into that mess in this short article. Let’s move on, it has nearly been a year since Proton was purchased by DRB-HiCom and the Bahar party came to a violent halt!

Bahar Sacked and the Rumors Began
It did not take the folks at DRB-Hicom to realize they needed to get Bahar out, but they needed grounds which they found during an audit of Lotus. With Bahar sacked, DRB-HiCom stuck their man to run Group Lotus, a operations guy that could keep the lights on without breaking the bank.

Any real news from Hethel was scarce, first it was “we are still doing due diligence”, next “we are working on a plan” and “We’ve been there twice and we like what we see”. But there was no real news about real plans to keep or divest Lotus from Proton. This gave way for rumors that DRB-Hicom was going to sell to VW, to GM, to Honda and even Caterham.

A year has nearly passed and DRB-Hicom has Lotus on life support giving the Group just enough monies to keep the lights on and fill a few orders. Witness the recent LA Auto Show, stark contrast to 2010 when Bahar debuted his 5 concept cars. This year Lotus Cars USA had absolutely no budget for the show; a show where 25-30% of the global production of sports are sold. The deafening silence from DRB-Hicom about Lotus and the trickle of monies to support the Group are telling.

What is going on? An Opinion…
I don’t have any special information, but I think we can piece together what is going on.

First I believe the entire Proton – DRB-Hicom deal was politically motivated. The sale of Proton and hence Lotus to DRB-Hicom was done because of the political pressures on the current Malaysian government to shed private interest and start showing some financial stability. It was the end of the 4th year of the current administration’s term and they needed to start righting the ship if they had any hopes of retaining power in the coming election cycle.

But, why sell to DRB-Hicom? Afterall Hicom isn’t exactly the most obvious buyer, they are not in the business of selling and marketing cars. Again politics, Hicom is a contract company that has won and profited from large expensive government projects. Timing was critical for the Malaysian government; they needed sell Proton quickly, so they called in some Hicom chips.

The sale was made at the beginning of the 5th year of the current term. The term for the Malaysian Parliament is 5 years. The previous election was held on March 8, 2008, so the current administration must hold an election before the end of the 5th year in office. There is no “set” schedule of when elections take place, only that they have to happen before the end of the 5th year. So, it is common practice for the administration to do house cleaning and give out “gifts” leading up to when they announce the elections. Elections can be announced with as little as 2 weeks’ notice.

Why is Hicom just keeping Lotus in limbo? Why no public statement on what’s next for Lotus? I believe that a decision has been made by Hicom to dispose Lotus and do a massive restructuring of Proton. But that would entail the loss of jobs and exposing how much tax monies were lost by Proton. Not exactly what the current administration wants to see happen just before re- election.

Thus, any news about the future of Lotus seems to hinge upon the Malaysian elections. Those elections have not been announced, but the end of 5 year term is March 7, 2013 (the last election was on March 8, 2008). If current administration loses, the Hicom will be free to dispose of Lotus and the newly elected leadership can claim they are fixing the sins of the old leadership. If the current administration wins then again Hicom can dump Lotus and the administration can continue knowing that they are in office for 5 more years and the electorate will have long forgotten about Hicom, Proton & Lotus by the next elections.

Bottom-line, I don’t think we will hear anything from Hicom about the future of Lotus for a few more months. Watch for signs of “gifts” (like tax breaks and grants from the administration) as a signal that the election date will be announced and set.

What will DRB-Hicom do, sell or invest?
I believe the lack of information from Hicom says it all. There is no political or business downside to Hicom publically stating they like Lotus and are keeping and investing in Lotus. The lack of news is ever telling, Hicom has made a decision to divest Lotus but are holding off public announcements for the political reasons I previously stated. That Hicom is keeping Lotus on life- support is an indication that they are just waiting until it is politically prudent to make such an announcement.

You could take the recent statements at face value and argue that it takes time to work things out with the banks and make right plans. Or, that the plans are set, but waiting for the elections to happen so the loans can be forgiven without huge political fallout. I believe such a scenario is a long shot.

So sell as a whole or break up Group Lotus? I believe the VW rumors were half true. VW was interested but only in Lotus Engineering. But, Hicom understands that selling Lotus Engineering would mean Lotus Cars would be deeply devalued and Hicom would be unable to sell Lotus Cars as a standalone entity. Thus the VW deal never got anywhere. Hicom would then prefer to sell Group Lotus in whole and not break it up, but to what buyer?

My bet is that a potential buyer will not be a large automotive maker like Honda, Toyota or GM. Instead the best scenario is a private buyer or smaller entity that is familiar with selling technology and knows how to be profitable in a niche markets. The biggest hurdle for this to happen is getting the banks to restructure the loans. Who might this private or smaller entity be? I don’t know, there have not been any rumors or news that puts anyone in talks with HiCom. However, I think this would be the best outcome for Group Lotus, even though there would not be the financial security of having a large auto maker’s ownership.

In any case I think it’s unlikely we hear anything solid until at least March or April after the Malaysian elections.

Kiyoshi Hamai

Laguna Seca registration is now open (11-Feb Event)

Come join the Golden Gate Lotus Club for this open track event at Laguna Seca Raceway February 11, 2013

You do not need to own a Lotus to attend this event. Price is $190 for non-GGLC members and $170 for members. You can purchase a yearly membership for $25. This event will be limited to a total of 3 groups of 35 cars each. Groups will be determined based on popularity. For instance, there may be two Advanced groups and one Intermediate if more people sign-up for Advanced. An email will be sent out once we have an idea of what the groups will be. Advanced Group will be with open passing and Intermediate Group will be restricted passing. The groups will be classified as follows:

Intermediate Group
You must have a minimum of 10 track days experience. Passing without a point-by will be allowed on the long straights and some of the short straights. Passing in turns will be allowed with a point-by.

You must have a minimum of 20 track days experience. Passing without a point-by will be allowed everywhere except through the corkscrew.

Laguna Seca enforces a strict sound limit of 92 db.

This event will run rain or shine. There will be no money back cancellations. If you need to cancel and we can fill your spot by January 30th, then we will offer you a rain check for a future event.

We will not conduct a tech inspection on your car. You are soley responsible for the safety of your car.

Open top cars must have a roll bar. Factory installed roll bars are OK. Open wheeled cars will be allowed in the Advanced group

There will be no formal instruction offered at this event. You are always encouraged to ask more experienced drivers for help, advice, ride-a-longs, etc.

Click here to sign up using MotorsportsReg. We will close registration at 105 cars. We suggest that you enter early to ensure a spot. This event will certainly sell-out fast.

The Lotus Evora just got better!

It’s been a busy year for Lotus; the arrival of the acclaimed Exige S; featured marque at the Goodwood Festival of Speed; a new flagship retail store in Regent Street; third place in the F1 Drivers’ Championship and fourth in the F1 Constructors’ Championship; and amongst various racing exploits, another series win for a Lotus with an Evora GTC taking the MSA British Endurance Championship.

Lotus Evora Sport Racer

Following the excitement of this race series win, the new Evora ‘Sports Racer’ is a visually enhanced and optimised version of the mid-engined 3.5 litre V6 sports car, available in both naturally-aspirated or supercharged variants. The Evora ‘Sports Racer’ proves its value on the pocket, as well as on the road and track – it delivers phenomenal performance, exclusive style, incredible excitement and genuine affordability!

There are three main factors that set the ‘Sports Racer’ apart from the existing Evora range; firstly, it receives a unique exterior colour scheme with an optimised interior to match. Secondly, it comes fully loaded, boasting Lotus’ ultimate specification. While thirdly, it’s more affordable than ever, representing great value. Here’s the detail:


The Evora ‘Sports Racer’ is available in a choice of four colours: Aspen White, Carbon Grey, Nightfall Blue and Ardent Red. To stand out from the crowd, the ‘Sports Racer’ receives unique contrasting accents of gloss black across the roof, front splitter, rear diffuser and side sills, exaggerating the Evora’s aggressive stance and sleek silhouette. Further black elements include black rear badging, black door mirror pods and gloss black forged wheels with a choice of either red or black brake calipers which all work to give the ‘Sports Racer’ a more dramatic and focused appearance.

Inside, the 2+2 seating option is standard and comes adorned with black leather ‘Premium Sports’ seats trimmed with red contrast piping and stitching. The dash, doors and centre console receive a liberal dose of Slate Grey SuedeTexTM with red contrast stitching, highlighting the car’s sporting character.

Like your interiors a bit louder? Go for Venom Red leather ‘Premium Sports’ seats with black contrast piping and stitching. All Evora ‘Sport Racer’ interiors are complemented by gunmetal dashboard panels, as is standard in the Evora S.


The Evora ‘Sports Racer’ comes loaded with optional extras as standard. The ‘Sports Pack’ provides switchable sports mode with sharper throttle response, increased rpm limit and sportier setting for Dynamic Performance Management (DPM), sports diffuser and cross-drilled brake discs. The ‘Tech Pack’ provides upgraded speakers and stereo system, DVD player, 7″ WVGA touch screen display, Bluetooth® mobile phone connection, USB connection for various iPod® models, MP3 players and memory sticks, tyre pressure monitoring, cruise control and rear parking sensors. This is topped of with electric power-fold mirrors and a reversing camera as standard.


Available in the UK and across Europe, the Evora ‘Sports Racer’ adds outstanding value to the already exceptional Evora range, priced in the UK at £57,900* for the Evora with 280 PS or £65,900* for the 350 PS supercharged Evora S. For UK customers, the cost benefits are clear; by opting for the pre-packaged Evora ‘Sports Racer’ savings range from £6,450 to £7,150 respectively.

Lotus Evora race cars

This year Team Bullrun won the title in the MSA British Endurance Championship in the newly developed Evora GTC and Alex Job Racing has been enjoying success in the ALMS series with the Evora GTE. Meanwhile, the Evora GT4 has been racing successfully in the Brazilian GT, the Iberian Supercar Trophy, Campeonato de España/IBER GT, Cameonato de Portugal GT, the Dutch GT championship and 24 hour races in Dubai, Barcelona and at Silverstone. The Evora GT4 is also competing in Lotus Cup series across the globe.

Press release from Lotus

Lotus Engineering adds lightness to a Crossover Utility Vehicle

California Air Resources Board (CARB) publishes results of Lotus Engineering’s vehicle mass reduction study on a Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV)

  • Results show a total vehicle mass reduction of 31% (528.3 kg or 1,162 lbs.) and a $239 (£150 / €188) saving in overall vehicle cost.
  • Body structure utilises advanced materials including high-strength steels, aluminium, magnesium and composites along with high tech joining and bonding techniques.

Following on from Lotus’ successful “Phase One” study, published in 2010, which looked at the empirical and theoretical weight saving for a standard CUV, Lotus Engineering conducted further research to confirm if a lightweight and commercially feasible body structure has the potential to meet or exceed the requirements for size, luggage volume, comfort, crashworthiness and structural integrity.

Lotus Engineering’s “Phase Two” body structure design was based on the dimensions of a 2009 Toyota Venza CUV and utilised advanced materials such as high-strength steels, aluminium, magnesium and composites along with advanced joining and bonding techniques to achieve a substantial body and overall vehicle mass reduction without degrading size, practicality or performance. The body mass was reduced by 37% (311 lbs. or 141.6 kg), which contributed to a total vehicle mass reduction of 31% (1,162 lbs. or 528.3 kg) including the mass savings of other vehicle systems (interior, suspension, chassis, closures, etc.) that had previously been identified in “Phase One”.

The detailed Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) analysis undertaken indicated that a 31% mass-reduced vehicle with a 37% lighter Body-in-White (BIW) structure has the potential to meet U.S. Federal impact requirements. This includes side impact and door beam intrusion, seatbelt loading, child seat tether loadings, front and rear chassis frame load buckling stability, full frontal crash stiffness and body compatibility and frame performance under low-speed bumper impact loads as defined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The result is a BIW design with a 20% increase in torsional stiffness over the class leading CUV.

Although the significant mass savings in the BIW design results in an increased BIW cost of $723 (£456 / €568), the overall vehicle cost is reduced through savings of $239 (£150 / €188) identified across the whole vehicle and when manufacturing and assembly costs are included in the analysis. A significant reduction in the parts count from 269 to 169, achieved by an increased level of component integration, also helped offset the increased BIW piece cost.

The background to the study

In April 2010, Lotus Engineering concluded the first phase of a study which substantiated that a reduction in vehicle mass could be achieved for medium production volume vehicles (approximately 50,000 units per year) with a 23% reduction in fuel consumption. In September 2010 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) commissioned Lotus Engineering to initiate Phase Two of the study and take a deeper look into the future of lighter, more efficient vehicles manufactured using lighter yet stronger materials.

Lotus has always been about Lightweight

When Lotus founder Colin Chapman coined the phrase “performance through light weight” he was referring to much more than mere accelerative performance. In the broader sense he meant that a lighter vehicle does everything better, including being more fuel efficient. Over the past 60-plus years, Lotus road and racing vehicles have consistently benefited from this core philosophy and Lotus has developed a strong reputation as a leader in lightweight vehicle technologies.

After decades of most manufacturers building increasingly heavy, feature-laden cars, now the very aggressive corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) standards increasing from a target of 35.5 mpg in 2016 to 54.5 in 2025 have all manufacturers reevaluating the virtues of mass reduction and prioritising the materials, technologies and production methods that will enable lighter, stronger and more efficient vehicles.

2012 USGP COTA Facility Review

Michael locks a wheel at T12
I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Formula 1 US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas last week and want to write up my thought after the event. This is not a review of the race itself but rather a review of the venue from a fans point of view and how it compares to other race events I have been to such as IndyCar (Infineon), NASCAR (Infineon) and the 2002 F1 USGP at Indianapolis.

Getting to and from the track
Having read nightmare predictions about parking at the race I decided to use the free park and ride shuttle from the Travis Expo center instead of shelling out $200 for a parking pass. I was quite concerned about how long it would take to get to the track but the folks at the shuttle did an excellent time and it took ~10 minutes to park and no more than 15 minutes after that to board the shuttle. The shuttle ride itself took only 20 minutes which means the total time from entering the paring lot to getting to the track was under 45 minutes which is pretty good for a first time event. Once the shuttles drop you off it is a longish walk (~0.75 mile) to the track gates themselves so you are going to want to wear some comfortable shoes.
Walking to COTA

The return trips had a long line to get on the shuttle though once again they were very well organized. Friday was a 10 minute wait with Saturday in the 20 minute range. As expected Sunday was the longest wait at ~45 minutes which again is not that bad when you have 110,000 people trying to leave at the exact same time.

Having spoken to some other folks who took the parking passes it appears that the had zero issues parking and you could have saved a bunch of time by using the pass. I’d recommend getting a pass for $200 and then splitting the cost among 7 people in a minivan 🙂

The facilities were pretty well laid out and the first thing you saw on entering the track were the large merchandise booths. They were pretty crowded during the day and actually ran out of many items so I’d recommend buying the stuff you want asap on Friday morning (which is when this photo was taken).
Lotus F1 Team Merchandise

There were a lot of food options at the track with things like Outlaw Grill, Po’ Boys, pizza, Krispy Kreme, nachoes, etc… Apart from the pizza and a few vegan tamales the veggie options were a bit thin so you may want to plan for that. The worst problem though was that the lines at every single outlet were soooo long that after day 1 (~60,000 attendance) we just smuggled our own food in as it wasn’t worth it to stand in line for 30+ minutes just to get a burger. The track really needs to get more concessions ready for the next race

There were a huge number of porta potties lined up right behind the stands and also in the shuttle area which meant that we did not have long rest room lines. The track was also actively trying to improve during the event. People complained about a lack of trash cans in the stands and they brought them in to the stand stairwells for day 2 and 3. All in all the track did a great job serving a huge crowd in their very first year and I am confident that they will only get better next year.

Track Seating
Button Vs Kimi
I was sitting in Sec 9, Row 33 of the T12 stand which put me ~10 feet past the apex of T12. These were the most expensive seats ($500+) in the race and the price was justified by the view. Apart from the excellent view of T12 (above), you could also see turns 13, 14 and 15 up close, turns 5, 6, 7 on the other side of the course and you also had a distant view of turn one though it was too far away to be able to tell which cars were which. One issue with sitting high up was that its too hard to read the text on the big screens (sec 9 is equidistant between 2 screens which exacerbated the problem) which makes it hard to follow the race in details. If I was doing it again I would sit towards the bottom of the T12 stand as you are closer to the cars and the loudspeakers at the bottom will let you follow the race better. Since most of the passing happens at T12 anyway you dont really miss too much by losing the view of the far side of the track. The following video was taken during the installation laps from Sec 9, Row 1 at T12.

Turn 3 was a stand which received rave reviews from the assembled journalists. The painted runoff areas lead to some spectacular photographs and the drivers love the high speed sweepers which are reminiscent of Silverstone. However as a fan I’d rather watch some passing or passing attempts and with only two moves being pulled off at T2 all race I’d suggest sitting in a different stand.
Vitaly Petrov - Caterham F1

The general admission areas of the track has some spots with excellent views as long as you come early and camp out. The prime spots IMHO were in front of the T15 grand stand (allows you to see down the straight), T19, exit of T20 (great acceleration + view of the podium, pic below) and the entrance of T1 (packed on all 3 days). If you are willing to come in early and camp out I’d suggest doing that as it will save you a lot of money and be a more memorable experience. You can also try going into the tower which gives you a spectacular view of the track but you will likely need binoculars or a long lens to be able to identify cars and follow the action.
Nico & Michael

Finally if you can get access to a PSL seat I’d recommend T15 and T1 as they will allow you to see down the straights which really shows the speed of these cars.

Autograph sessions
Autograph Schedule
The track had autograph sessions for all the drivers but the drivers were there for just 15 minutes which is truly pathetic when you have 110,000 paying fans at the event. FOM should really force all drivers to have at least a 30 minutes session and extend it to an hour for the more popular teams and drivers (Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Kimi, Schumacher, etc…). Compare this to NASCAR and Indycar where you can get a garage pass and chat with the drivers, F1 is extraordinarily fan unfriendly. As a friend of mine said later – welcome to F1 where the fans come last.
Caterham F1 Autograph Session

Driver identification
Once other thing that F1 really needs to learn from NASCAR is in easy identification of the drivers. While the cars themselves are very easy to identify, it is almost impossible to tell the team mates apart. Some drivers use very different helmets (Michael and Nico, Alonso and Massa) which make them easy to identify but to many of the team mates use helmets that are too similar to differentiate at 100 mph from 20 meters away. And to top it off people like Hamilton and Vettel actually changed their helmet on each day of the race which made them even harder to identify. The only team with a clearly readable number on the car was McLaren (rear wing endplate). Even the HRTs which have a large number of the car have put the significant digit on the sidepod such that it is difficult to differentiate 22 and 23(below). FOM should force team mates to have clearly differentiable helmets and also make drivers carry the helmet (or a replica) on the parade lap so that fans can tell who is who.
HRT action
Update: I’ve gotten a few comments on the various forums about how I’m not a regular follower of F1 and I should be able to tell from the pylons over the drivers. First off I am a regular F1 follower and have missed only a handful of races since 1994. Second the pylons are quite small and hard to see on a moving car especially with changing light conditions and the various background colours – super slow-mo replay has really spoiled us TV watchers. And finally the pylons are set based on points from the previous season and change between drivers – Lewis and Jenson have swapped pylons every single year which means you have to re learn them all the time. The days of Stewart and Senna having the same helmet throughout their careers really did make the ID easier. The suggestion of coloured noses instead of pylons is great but I’m sure the sponsors will object to losing billboard space.

Hotels/Flight profiteering
Now I come to the part of the experience that really pissed me off. The rampant profiteering from the hotels and airlines lead to $750 round trip airfares and places like Motel 6 charging $300/night. I understand supply and demand makes rates go up but raping your customers also guarantees zero repeat business. One person I met said that the Austin Crowne Plaza was charging $750 per night with a 4 night minimum when their usual rates are ~$120/night. With ridiculous prices like this the price of a race weekend for a couple from the Bay Area would be well over $6000 ($1100 tickets, $1500 airfare, $3300 hotel) at which point I would rather go for a luxury cruise or drive the Nurburgring instead. This is no fault of the race organizers and is out of their control but is the thing that is making me want to avoid the race in future. Hopefully if the New Jersey race does happen the profiteering wont be as bad since 100,000 people would just be a drop in NYC bucket

Off-Track Events
One of the best things about attending an F1 race is the number of F1 related off-track activities that take place. The Formula One Team Association (FOTA) held their first american FOTA Fan Forum where 500 fans got to directly interact with team representatives ask the kind of questions you never see on TV. I was unable to attend but will definitely try to attend the next time.

Fans of F1 history also got to attend the world premier of “1: The Unvarnished Story” which charts how safety has improved over the years. The red carpet held at the Paramount theater attracted a host of F1 luminaries like Sir Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Damon Hill, Bernie Ecclestone, Herbie Blash, Eddie Jordan, Christian Horner and Martin Brundle. I highly recommend watching the movie when it release to the public. The target rich environment was an awesome place to be if you are an autograph seeker 🙂
New Autographs

For the more casual fans Austin create the F1 Fan Fest which shut down a 9 square block area of downtown Austin with music, food, stores and all manner of motorsports related activities. Mobil 1 had a tent where fans to do a pit stop on an actual McLaren show car while Red Bull and Lotus show cars were all over the place. If you are staying in a downtown hotel it is well worth a visit to the fan fest.

Thanks to Adrian in the comments for reminding me about Fanvision. This is a mobile controller that you can rent for $69 for a weekend and gives you access to multiple video and audio feeds as well as live data statistics. I decided not to get one as I expected to use earplugs the entire weekend which would have made the audio pointless. People around me did have them and the verdict was a little split. Most everyone felt that the video was pretty useless as the screen is quite dim and can barely be seen in direct sunshine. People did use them to get live stats since the intermittent cell service made all the free timing apps very flaky at the track. Those that used the earphones said that they were able to hear the audio and really liked the ability to plug into a drivers radio feed as well. When you spend this much on the race its probably worth spending the extra $70 🙂

Bottom Line
All-in-all it was an enjoyable experience and I would recommend doing it at least once especially if you have never been to an F1 race before. It is however quite pricey and as a result I’m not sure if I will be going back next year.

Cross-posted at http://www.rahulnair.net/blog/2012/11/24/circuit-of-the-americas-facility-review/
All photos by Rahul Nair & Nithya Selvaraj

GGLC Holiday Dinner (Dec 8, 2012)

Sign up and reserve your place at the gala GGLC Holiday Celebration at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Redwood City. Don’t miss out on the wine, food, door prizes and the Annual GGLC White Elephant Gift Exchange.

The Old Spaghetti Factory will serve a delicious Italian buffet that will include appetizers, salad, entrees and dessert. The GGLC will provide wine for your enjoyment at dinner. Cocktails will start at 6:30 with a no-host bar and dinner will be served at 7:30.

Buffet dinner menu includes (tentative) – Olive Tapenade, Shrimp Spinach & Artichoke dip, Chicken Marsala, Pasta Marinara, Old Country Lasagna, Spinach & Cheese Ravioli and Chocolate Mouse Cake.

Following dinner we’ll introduce the 2013 President and officers and present awards to the GGLC’s 2012 Autocross champions. Plus there will be door prizes and of course the infamous GGLC Gift Exchange.

GGLC Gift Exchange
Everyone attending is invited to participate in the Annual GGLC White Elephant Gift Exchange. To participate bring a wrapped, unwanted “gift” item from your garage to the dinner. Please make sure your gift is EPA-friendly (non-toxic and clean). Then you’ll have the opportunity to exchange it for another “gift”.

Click here to purchase your dinner ticket via Paypal.

Saturday Dec 8, 2012
Cocktails at 6:30pm, dinner at 7:30pm
Old Spaghetti Factory
2107 Broadway St.
Redwood City, CA