Racing a Lotus Elise

Mike Knowles provided some information on the Lotus email list on modifications to an Elise for racing:

Check out these websites:

Parts suppliers: (proprietor: Geary Powell) (proprietor: Owen Geddes)

Decent BBS: (look out for me as "Mike, Bracknell" on there)

This should spark a little of your interest. Basically i've had mine for coming up to 4 years now, and can answer probably most of your questions.

In terms of making the car a pure track car, you should be looking at doing the following:


  1. 1) Change the brake pads to Pagid RS14 (or RS15 if the RS14 is no longer available) - this is the pad of choice for the Elise on track. * $$ ($)
  2. Fit some Goodridge braided brake hoses, and some DOT 5.1 brake fluid ** $ ($$)
  3. Don't worry about the rest of the brake system, it should be fine for track work. Incidentally, for reference you have Iron discs (and not the earlier MMC discs) and they're cross-drilled and vented on the 111s - this may cause problems as drilled discs have a greater tendency to crack than non-drilled. Also the Lotus drilled discs are quite soft in comparison to others, so check the wear on them and keep an eye out - this is something you may want to change later rather than now). ***** $$$ ($$)

Suspension and Tyres

  1. 1) Fit the uprated rear toe link from Geary's website above - this is required for track tyres and circuit work * $$ ($$)
  2. Fit R-spec tyres - recommended ones are the Yokohama A038R (in either LTS or SS compound), or the Dunlop type D01J-R (watch out for these as there are apparently issues with rubbing the front clams). You'll also want a set of 6J front and 8J rear wheels for these tyres, and you'll need Elise-specific wheels as they have a unique PCD/Offset. I'd recommend the "Victory" alloys for this role *** $$$$ ($)
  3. Change the springs, dampers, and rollbar - This all depends on budget of course (as does a lot of other things on here!) If you have the money, the Racing Dynamics kit is good, if you want to get into it gradually the LSS (Lotus Sports Suspension) kit (basically dual rate yellow Konis with adjustable spring perch height and uprated springs) is a good intermediate purchase *** $$$$ ($$$)
  4. Change the bushes for Geary's "Nylatron" bush set. This should give you almost the feel of rose-jointed suspension without the maintenance heartache as they're hard nylon bushes instead of the rubber ones ** $$ ($$$)
  5. Look at getting the chassis gemoetry changed for track work - there are a lot of issues here and you'd be best off looking in the BBS archives (which incidentally has a lot of info) or asking this question there * ($$)

Other equipment

  1. 1) Fit a fire extinguisher (these cars burn very well when lit!), and mount it securely. !!! $ ($)
  2. Fit a rollcage - there are several to choose from, check the webpages above and ask on the BBS. ** $$ ($$)
  3. Fit seat harnesses, and possibly change your seat(s) (note, the seats on the Elise are special as they need to be very narrow, which limits your choice). ** $$ ($$)
  4. Fit an oil cooler (but make sure it's got braided hoses and is suitable for the job - Geary sells a good one IIRC) ** $$ ($$)


Well, this all depends on how far you want to go....Please note:

  1. The VVC mechanism on the top end of the engine you have with the 111s is relatively fragile (not very, but more so than std), and limits your tuning potential
  2. The VVC head with the VVC mech removed and blanked off however offers a good basis for porting and fitting better cams etc **** $$$$ ($$$$) <-- but costs can be significantly lower if you do some/all of the work yourself.
  3. A good exhaust with decent manifold will improve things no end - check out the EBD 4-2-1 on the websites and you'll probably want Geary's engine steady mount to compliment it. ** $$$ ($$$)
  4. The engine's weak spot is the head gasket. Investigate the BBS archives for details about remote stats, better HGs and "thermal shock"

Ok, obviously this should give you QUITE a bit of a headstart and also a HELL of a lot of work to do, so i've marked the solutions above with these marks:

* to ***** = should do first to last. Items with a !!! mean you should investigate doing it immediately, but basically the car as it comes out of the factory should be fine for "track days", but if you're racing you probably want to do some of these things before you hit the track

$ to $$$$$ = Obviously the cost of doing these things. ($) to ($$$$$) = The labour costs of doing these things - obviously if you can do these yourself it's much cheaper!

Any other questions, feel free to ask!

Cheers, Mike.