Castle Combe Track Day 2003
Lotus Esprit World attended it's first Club Lotus organised Track Day at Castle Combe on Saturday 25th May 2003. Castle Combe is near Bristol off the M4. This is one of the largest gathering of Lotus Cars on the UK calendar, with people attending either to show off their cars, take to the track or both.
Track time is pre-booked, with two 15 minute sessions for each car. After that you can queue up for extra session on a first come basis. Each Lotus has to pass the 100 dB sound limit to be allowed on the track. The track is for Lotus' only with no other makes being allowed out onto the track.
With poor weather forecast, I'm not sure the attendance was what it could have been, but luckily the weather held out, and Castle Combe was blessed with great weather. With your author returning home a little sun burnt. The weather help turn the day into a great Lotus day out.
I was surprised to find very few stalls or dealers selling their products. Although it is supposed to be a track day, many people turn up just to watch and look around the carpark. I'm sure any traders would have done well with the amount of people attending.
There was plenty of different Loti to look at with about every model in attendance. The Esprit was well catered for with two S1's, two Sport 350's and a Sport 300 among the rarer model there. I was very surprised to find the Esprit almost out numbering the Elises. The Yahoo! Group was well represented with most of the regulars turning up.
Most of the Yahoo! group kept away from the track, mostly in fear of something breaking. Dermot was being his usual helpful self, answering all manor of queries and questions with help from 'Dump Valve' Justin.
There were casualties on the day. Curly Jon had boosting problems with his Giugiaro Turbo on the way down and had to turn back. Another Yahoo! member had to do running repairs on route, but made it safely to Castle Combe (and hopefully back). Doors had a little surgery done by Dermot and a Stanley knife. And lastly, Dave Nickless was scared off on-route by the dark clouds and decided to turn back, only to find out later of the fine weather and great day he missed out on.
Yahoo! Group Pre-Castle Combe
Members of the UK Yahoo! Esprit Group, met up together before forming a convey on route to Castle Combe. These are some picture sent to me by member Mike Ring.
Left: Mark's V8 gets eyed up by Rob Ellis. Centre/Right: The Red Esprit gang up on the others
Left: Russell Mill's Sport 300 Centre: Door's GT3 before it's track outing Right: Mike Rings' Esprit
Left: Dom's S4. Centre: the yahoo! members gather Right: Dermot holds court with Russell, Justin and MIA Dave Nickless.
A FEW INTERESTING ESPRITS
Below is a highly modified Esprit S1. The owner got the car in poor condition and decided to spend some time turning it into a JPS Grand Prix Tribute.
With a turbo body-kit, Essex wheels, and a few personal touches like the SE spoiler the Esprit has been transformed. Some may not like it and some will love it! It's for sale if someone really wants it, but I've yet to receive any details from the current owner. I'm hoping an owner page might come at some point, as I'm sure early Esprit owners would be interested in a few of the mods.
Original Esprit S1
This beautiful Esprit S1 was number 4 off the production line and has been owned by Paul for 20 years. It was used in the James Bond Fifth Gear TV Special earlier in the year. Paul has tried to keep the car as original as possible, with only a few changes made to make living with the car easier.
As you can see from the picture, the Car's been well looked after. The wheels are specially in great condition and really set the Esprit off. I'm hoping (again) that this car will have it's own owners page in the near future and Paul will be on hand with his 20 year experience of the early Esprit.
The engine is in great condition, with the addition on some K&N filters and a fan off a Mk I Escort helping to cool the engine bay the only not standard parts. This Esprit was in fact the first Turbo Esprit. Having had the Lotus approved Bell & Colvill Turbo conversion fitted, which is believed to have lead to Lotus producing the factory Turbo. The Engine has been converted back to original over the years.
Unluckily I didn't get the chance to talk with this Silver SE's owner Andy. This is a highly modified Esprit for the track which I am hoping to find out more about in the near future.
This highly modified Esprit has had quite a bit of cash spent on it. 18" alloys, Purple spray job and a interior & stereo install that's something else. I didn't get the chance to chat to the owner, but it was quite an impressive beast.
This is the Yellow Esprit that appeared in Minder in the 80's. A professional footballer car, who's rear window is shot out by a girls father. I've personal not seen the episode, but details and picture were displayed under the replaced rear window. A very interesting car. If anybody knows the owner. I would be interested in learning more about the history of this Esprit. Would make another interesting owners car.
Jeff's 350bhp Esprit
This is a highly modified Esprit. Owned by 'Diablo' Jeff, I first saw this car through a crowd of interested people at Donington last year, Jeff was explaining his engine blowing up after a chip install. The following court case and a new engine. Jeff's running water injection on his Esprit and has also had engine work done by Turbo Technics. With upgraded suspension and 18" V8 OZ's on this is a pretty quick car. Jeff's had the engine upto 380bhp, but has had it de-tuned to 350bhp due to gearbox worries. Jeff, email me if you read this so I can get some more details of your modifications.
Now for some track action, as after all, it was a track day. I wasn't going to venture out onto the track until my brake upgrade has been completed. But I did managed to get one of the marshals to test how loud my car was. With a 100 dB limit to get out onto the track, I was worried that with my sports exhaust and lack of cat, I would be struggling to pass the meter test. My Esprit is currently sounding great, but very noisy. My official reading was 100.1 dB, which would have just seen me scrap by. I would have been the noisiest car on the track had I have gone out. Door's GT3 for example was one of the quietest cars with a reading of 92 dB.
Lotus Stuff on the Track
I'm not going to show myself up by getting the models wrong, so I've just put them together for you to enjoy. There were only a couple of Loti that left the track during the day, and though there was plenty of smoke (from the tyres), nobodies car was damage (I think!).
Door's GT3 on the Track
Yahoo! member Door's wasn't originally going to track his newly purchased GT3, but on seeing the fun others were having, a wave of some cash at the Club Lotus people and a borrowing of a helmet (as you can see the sunroof had to be removed), Doors was soon enjoying a spin around Castle Combe. If only my brakes had been done, I'd have joined him.