2003 West Coast Lotus Meet
Aug 28-31 - Portland OR

The 2003 West Coast Lotus Meet (WCLM) was hosted by Club Lotus Northwest. A very fun event with lots to do and people to meet!


Thursday - Aug. 28th
The Trip & Arrival

Our adventure began early Thursday morning. Laura and I pulled out of the driveway a couple of minutes after 6am. About 20 minutes later we were in front of the Carney's being greeted by Tom and Cherie.

We stopped in Weed for lunch and then up and over the summit into Oregon's Willamette Valley where the temperature soared into triple figures. It was unseasonably warm for Oregon, with temperatures reaching into the high 90s and triple digits. It was the forecast for the next 3 days.

We rolled into Portland a bit past 8 pm, hot, sweaty, hungry and tired. We ran into Dave and Judy Anderson in the lobby. After dinner we ran into Dave Simkin of LCU. The Elise hadn't arrived via Horseless, but was expected in the morning. He'd bring the car to Lotus Track Day and give some rides.

Needless to say the bed in Double Tree felt GOOD!

Friday - Aug. 29th
Lotus Track Day

Next morning after breakfast we headed for Portland International Raceway (PIR) for the WCLM Lotus Track Day. As we arrived we could hear the cars accelerating out of Turn 9 and down the front straight. Vintage racers were already arriving and setting up in the Paddock and the folks presenting the British Field Meet were getting ready for the big meet.

The Lotus Track Day pits were in the infield. We waited briefly to get across the track between sessions. What a wonderful array of cars. On the Lotus side were Elises, an Exige, Europas, Esprits (Turbo and V8), Sevens, a number of Formula cars, a Mallock, Porsches and a couple Z06 Corvettes. In all, there were about 30 cars.

I unloaded the Elan from the trailer. I have to admit that pulling the Elan with the F150 Lightning was heaven. I've never towed with a vehicle that could accelerate and pass other cars going uphill dragging 2400 pounds behind it! Even with the trailer, Elan and gear in the back I'm sure it could do zero to sixties faster than most cars!

Just after lunch Dave Simkin arrived with the 111S Elise (transported up from Scottsdale, where the air-con unit was being tested).

Mark Viskov chaired the Club Lotus Northwest Track Day. The event was smoothly run, with ample track time for all. The entire last session from 4-5pm was for Lotus only. It was during that time that I had a chance to check out the Elise!

My 111S Elise Drive

Okay, I did drive the standard S2 Elise last October at the WCLM. That drive was on the street from Laguna Seca to Carmel Valley. My impressions at the time were generally positive, but some reservations about the pedal heights and feel. In particular I felt the pressure needed for the brakes was on the high side and made heel-toe down shifts particularly awkward. So, it was I climbed into the 111S and took it out onto the 9 turns of PIR.

Accelerating, I noted the engine to be noticeably smoother than the standard unit. The gearshift throws were the same, which is on the long side. In the back of my mind I'm hoping that the Toyota 6 speed box will cure this.

There's a long space between 2nd and 3rd and another between 3rd and 4th. If the ratios were a bit closer together I think the acceleration might be a bit brisker. Now, I was at the Festival curves, a sharp 90-degree right followed by a sharp 135 degree left and then a sweeping right and onto Turn One. The brakes were GREAT!!! Pedal pressure was perfect and easy to modulate. Totally different than what I remember from the drive in October. Amazing what a brake booster will do!

Coming into Turn 1 applied the brakes and trailed them into the corner. I expected some understeer, but the 111S tucked, slowed and leaned over onto left side and went around the corner. It was easy to guide it into the apex of One, then out to the edge and set up for Turn 2.

Getting into Turn 2 is tricky for a lot of cars because there's not enough time to fully straighten the car out to do straight line braking. It's a great test of the chassis because you have to brake while cornering. That means you have to give up cornering grip to be able to slow. A lot of cars will get terribly unbalance when you try to do this. I've spun many a car in this maneuver or plowed way off line, ending way wide of the apex and compromising corner exit speed. Not so with the 111S. It stayed balanced! Hit the apex perfectly, accelerated out on line and off to Turn 3. Very impressive!

Turn 3 is a constant radius 180-degree left-hander with some minor camber changes that makes the entry harder than it looks. The Elise whipped around the corner perfectly balance, add power and it pushes every so slightly, drop power and the rear just hints at rotating. Turn 4 is a long right-hander with a late apex. It's important to set-up 4 so you can get on the power before you apex. Doing so pays off big time as you can flat foot it all the way through the exit of 4, then Turns 5 and 6 and onto the back straight.

Next are Turns 7 and 8, a quick left-right, a brake tap and turn into 7. The Elise handles this section beautifully! Brake into 8 and let the car drift out to the left edge and even use some of the track exit lane! Brake, again without any sort of "I wonder what the car will do…" and turn into Turn 9, the most important corner on the track as it leads onto the front straight. Late apex, then let the Elise run right out to the outside edge and up against the wall.

I found that I didn't need to go into 5th on the straights as I was getting up to about 5500-6000 rpm in 4th (about 100 mph) as I reached the brake points.

Every corner brought new respect and a true realization that it's a driver's car. It responds to your input and is forgiving. It has a very high threshold, one that if used on the street would be MUCH faster than might be considered safe. With more and softer tire, the car would be AMAZINGLY fast. And, with the 190 HP the Toyota engine will make…

Saturday - Aug. 30th
All British Field Meet (ABFM) & SOVERN Vintage Racing

The forecast was for another very warm Portland day! The sun was shining brightly by 8am. Club Lotus NW had already arranged with the organizers of the ABFM to get us meet placards that let us drive right in! Nice touch!

I parked the Elan along side a gaggle of Sevens, Europas, Esprits, few Elises, an Elan+2, an early Elite and one Elan chassis atop a VW Transporter.

By 3pm Laura and Cherie were well past "Done" in the triple digit heat and wanted to head back to the hotel.

WCLM Banquet

Arriving back at the hotel, we rested, showered and headed to the banquet. Jon Rosner found me and handed me a very nice silver picture frame saying something about winning 2nd place at the ABFM for the Elan! Surprise!!!

The festivities were chaired by Jeff Williams, President of Club Lotus Northwest. There the usual introductions, and then Dave Alford presented the WCLM Concours winners. Dave shared how the judges while casual, were interested in spirit of "originality". A lovely S1 Europa owned by Matt Graham won best overall Lotus as he had beautifully restored the car in JPS colors.

Bob Winklemann spoke for a few minutes sharing stories of his exploits in the Cortinas, Anglias, Lotus Cortinas and the like. The story of their class win at the 24 hours of Daytona was amazing. Seems they were able to enter with some help from Ford who told the organizers that they were trying some new aluminum rods in the engine. Ford was referencing Bob's connecting rods. About half way into the event one of the rods in the "Experimental" Ford engine let go and took out the lower end. The rules stated that engine changes were illegal. The team contemplated the situation, took the short block out and replaced it in the matter 45 minutes with the race stewards closely watching.

They finished the race and captured first in their class and were promptly protested for an engine change. After some discussion, some lawyer type pointed out that the rules eliminated engine changes, and the short block was not a complete engine. According to Bob, the rules in the following year had a "Winklemann" clause!

Sunday - Aug. 31st

Next morning I met Tom outside the hotel and we drove over in the Europa to the AFBM's swap meet. Gawd do British cars have some STRANGE looking parts! There was stuff there that looked as if it had been hibernating in someone's barn for the past 30 years. Not much for Lotus, a ton for MG, Jags and Triumphs.

After a couple of hours we returned to the hotel to meet up with Dave and Judy Anderson who treated all of us to a wonderful brunch.

Fat and happy we loaded up the Elan onto the trailer, loaded the Lightning and Europa and started our trek home. We had decided to leave the event early and drive down the coast. The Oregon coastline is some of the most scenic landscape in the world and this was a great opportunity to view it.

We stopped in Crescent City, just over the California border and stayed the night. 9am the next morning we were on our way south through the Redwoods and more unbelievable scenery.

We dropped off the Carney's at their home in Burlingame and arrived home 1400 miles later with smiles on our faces and some wonderful memories to last us a lifetime!