Back to racing: Shelsley Walsh in a Lotus Elan Car News

Considering that I started my career without distinction in motorsport over 30 years ago, there was no real reason to be concerned when I introduced myself to Shelsley Walsh in hillclimb racing there. has a few weekends to race my Lotus Elan at an event called Classic Nostalgia.

All the same, that’s exactly how I felt the apprehension. It had been a few years since I had done anything that required a helmet, racing license, numbers and a riding suit, and that made the occasion more important. Just like the fact that around thirty regular participants in Paul Matty’s Lotus Hillclimb championship were also present. I had never competed in this car (a front-wheel drive 1990’s Lotus Elan; the cheapest of the breed money can buy), or even subjected it to a loud cranking and in rotation, so there was a lot to teach.

Fortunately, the Lotus group is the most welcoming there is. Many have continued to compete for all these years since my son and I ceased to be regulars seven or eight years ago. Our subplot on this occasion, besides having fun, was to help our friend Paul celebrate the 30th anniversary of his beloved championship, which for those decades kept a cheerful light on in the window of the Lotus often. besieged. Mark. There was a happy and well attended Friday dinner as Matty events always are, and then everyone went to bed to get ready for the race the next day.

I knew I was going to be the slowest of the bunch. There are beautiful, well-driven single-seaters in the Matty lineup, traditionally used as a handicap, as well as extremely well-developed Lotus road cars that also have expert drivers. My standard car, the only M100, was the biggest and heaviest in the business, although even by today’s standards its 0-60mph time of just under seven seconds isn’t exactly slow.

The first tests were carried out very early, with an ambient temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius. In my observation run, a disgracefully slow ascent in a 47 second zone, I established that unless you left the start line with a lot of rpm and slippage, the engine would stall so badly. disastrous. . The M100 engine is healthy, durable, smooth and refined, but it’s also old school in that it suffers from turbo lag at low revs. Continue to percolate or you are lost.

On the second run I made up for that, by activating the clutch at around 5,000 rpm, spinning the wheels all the way to the 7,000 red line before discovering the other big downside of the M100. uphill – a canyon-like deviation from second gear. It is essential to grab the second as quickly as possible (a smooth but very long throw) and the best you can hope for is 3,500 rpm and a bit of a wait for the honest to God urge to start. beyond 4,500. Even so, my reward for better performance was a time in the 44 second bracket – still dog slow but not old slow arthritic pooch. Maybe I could even do a little better.

Shelsley is steep and short, with a technical S-turn in the middle of what (in an Elan M100) is otherwise an exercise to deploy every shred and ounce of traction and torque you can find. There’s a very steep approach to the esses which many of us find intimidating (you have to brake in a spot that on the flat would look incredibly late) and there’s a clever and not too obvious late tack line between the banks. steep, which allows you to carry as much speed as possible and start the noise early to tackle a long steep straight.

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This notice was published: 2021-08-05 23:01:00

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