Lotus Letters: ‘Thoughts on Lotus and Historic Racing’

Club Lotus Eastern Creek 1998

Club Lotus at Eastern Creek, 1998, thanks to Brian Caldersmith

In a recent ‘President’s Prattle’, Ashton called for some feedback on historic racing in Australia. We’ve received some interesting responses on both sides of the fence, and here are two for your enjoyment.

Have a read, and let us know what you think!

Thanks to Brian Caldersmith

Anybody with little or no interest in historic motor racing needs to hand back their licence, resign their membership and pass their Lotus on to somebody who understands what the marque is all about.

Lotus is one of the very few car manufacturers that came about simply because of racing.

Lotus is not a company that, 60 years down the track, had some victories with people racing one of their sedans. It grew directly from club racing into full bore Formula One competition with outstanding results and its accomplishments and leadership in development forced changes in the rules. Its sports cars were also outstandingly successful with one model being banned because it was “too fast”.

Historic racing today showcases many of those milestones and if you want to really comprehend and appreciate the family tree that produced your Elise or Evora you should be attending historic race meetings regularly.

When you have acquired the background knowledge about Lotus 25, ACBC, Lotus 18, Border Reivers, Lotus 23, Black badges, Indianapolis, Lotus 88, Jim Clark, and sundry other stuff and appreciate how it all went together to make the company what it is today, then you will understand what you are driving. Without that, you are not an enthusiast and you are simply just driving a nice car.

Consequently, failure to attend the historic race meeting in June at Sydney Motor Sport Park will be noted on your membership record.

And a counterpoint.

In the latest ‘President’s Prattle’ you called for some feedback on historic racing. I’ve given it some thought, and there are a few issues I’d like to raise.

Price. Entry to the upcoming Sydney Retro Racefest is $495. Typically, you will get about 24 race laps at Eastern Creek in a historic meeting. In the CAMS State Championships, typically you get 32 laps for $350.

Timing and management. Historic meetings tend to be flexible on time management. State and national meetings start and finish on time.

Driving standards. There are some Historic Drivers who have questionable skill and aggression. At the last two historic races at Phillip Island and Mallala, three Formula Fords were trashed.

Safety. Historic meetings tend to mix classes. Formula Ford with Vees or Juniors at high speed tracks like Eastern Creek or Phillip Island is dangerous. Vees get lapped in 4 laps.

Getting a Certificate of Description. The process and pricing seems to change arbitrarily.

2 Comments on “Lotus Letters: ‘Thoughts on Lotus and Historic Racing’”

  1. Thanks for the photo above. I well remember that day when we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Lotus at Eastern Creek. I am no racer but we were actually allowed on the track for a few laps and someone took a great photo of my red Elan +2 lifting a wheel at one of the corners so I must’ve been trying!

    I like Brian Caldersmith’s point of view!

  2. I appreciate both the published opinions as valid. There are some other “nuts & bolts” issues. Historic racing has to support itself so we are always trying to keep the grids full. This requires enthusiasm by some people to get the cars out of sheds. Thankfully we currently have good people working hard to keep HR alive & well.
    Secondly,HR is largely about parading the cars,few “competitors” are willing to risk their cars at the limit of the driver’s ability because we can’t afford to trash a car we own. The hard chargers do exist at the pointy end of the grid. All you need to do is keep out of their way,simple. However,HR has some poorly skilled drivers who work on the basis that,the older we are the better we were. Find out who they are & give them a lot of driving room,they’ll never change their bad habits of a lifetime.
    HR is gentleman’s motorsport and that’s why I’ve been competing for ten years without serious incident (maybe the exception was the last Historic Oran Park) in Formula Ford,notorious for trashed cars. It is dangerous,but I love that.
    It can be a tad expensive but there’s no way around that. As my Dad used to say,”You can’t put a price on pleasure”. Just compete at your own level & spend a little bit more than you can afford. Lastly,it’s well worth the money for the friends you will make.

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