Elise Diary for December 2005

Elisa at her first autocross


My daughter, Elisa, is 25 years old. I always considered it important that she learn to autocross as it is a form of safety training. Learning how to control a car in an emergency, how to avoid obstacles, and knowing the limits all will help make her a safer driver. She learned to autocross when she was 21 and was proficient in her modern VW Bug.

The Lockheed Sports Car Club holds its annual Dyer Cross the day after Christmas. This year it was delayed because the event was held at the Marina Airport near Monterey. I invited my daughter along for some quality father-daughter time. She accepted!

We registered and helped set up the course. I drove to a vacant road and exchanged places with her. She drove the car for the first time, keeping below the 15mph speed limit. She learned the clutch grab quickly. This was my main concern as she has been driving an automatic for several years now. She was ready!

We talked with a friend who brought along his daughter for her first autocross. We joked about making a bet as to who's daughter was going to be the fastest. His daughter was driving a Ford Focus but it was her daily driver and she was familiar with it.

Elisa and I worked the course for the first run group. Several people got lost or missed gates. Some people were very slow, almost 80 seconds on what was a 50 second course. Elisa was terrified that she was going to embarrass me. I tried to reassure her.

Time for us to run and she sat as a passenger in order to get a feel for the track. She drove next. She went slowly, did not get lost or miss a gate, and completed the course in 76 seconds. I commented on hand positions but little else. I wanted her to just drive.

Her second lap was good, at 67 seconds, almost ten seconds faster. Getting better.

Her third run was going well until she came to a tight left U turn. She was going too fast, did not take her foot off the gas, and started running wide. I saw all these cones approaching and she promptly mowed down three of them! I envisioned black marks all over the car!

Finally, for her fourth run, I suggested she run it without me in the passenger seat. She finished with a 63 second run! The picture above is of her about to cross the finish line. She is swinging a bit wide, but we can work on that. She also beat my friend's daughter...

She was very excited and could not stop talking about how much fun she had. I remember driving but did not pay much attention on how I was doing or how I might improve. I was having too much fun watching her and talking about her runs. (I looked and found my best run was a 52 second run at the end.)

It was a great experience for both of us.

Michael at Laguna Seca

(There are two pictures of me on my website This and one of me entering the Nevada Open Road Challenge in the NSX.)

I finally got to drive the Elise at Laguna Seca. Over the years, I have driven my Seven, the NSX, and my wife's BMW M3 there. Recently Laguna Seca has been modifying the course and open track opportunities have been rare. The Golden Gate Lotus Club obtained a date and I took advantage.

Lotus Elise at Laguna Seca
Lotus Elise at Laguna Seca
Lotus Elise at Laguna Seca

Of course, all of the above pictures were taken in the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. While it is a fun turn, there is little technical challenge in driving it.

Lotus Elise at Laguna Seca

Turn two is challenging. The advanced group shared the track with eight Radicals. By the end of the day, the street cars were nothing more than moving obstacles to these quick cars.

Best of all, I got to meet iwilson. This fellow was traveling from the UK to New Zealand. He shipped his Honda powered Series I to Florida and drove it across the United States in order to ship it to New Zealand from the West Coast. He was stopping by various automotive events and happened to make it to this event. Nice fellow and good times.


I installed the steering wheel from the 111R. I like the profile and texture of this steering wheel. There was an editorial about how Lotus designed the perfect steering wheel and I wanted one.