Elise with Rota and RA-1 in the corkscrew

photo by Larry B (more)

Diary January 2007

New Brake Pads

The brakes on the Elise are amazing. They stop the car and are easy to modulate, which are my primary considerations. They do not fade and do not squeal. Finally, while they do let go with a lot of dust, it does not seem excessive. They even last a long time. However I am easy on brakes.

Many people ride the brakes into the braking zone or even past turn in. The ideal is to hit the brakes hard for a short time and then get off them so they can cool The brakes lasted over two years, twenty autocrosses and at least ten high performance track days.

I had a hard time deciding which brake pads to replace the original equipment manufacturer's brake pads. I would have purchased the OEM brake pads if it were not for the high cost, almost twice that of the after market pads. Many people go with Porterfield R4-S and some have used the Hawks and EBC. I looked at the StopTech website, the company that manufacturers the front calipers for the Elise, and they had a comparison chart for pads. They liked the Ferodo 2500 and it was one of the few pads that was a high performance street pad. I did not want to go with a racing pad because of the lack of response when cold and the extreme dusting.

rotor and caliper
hammer and brake caliper

I wrote another how-to article for my website, showing how to replace the pads, front and rear. Note how the hammer is the perfect pry tool to push the pads back against the calipers! I did a tutorial on how to bleed the brake system. I prefer to use the helper-in-the-driver's-seat technique because it brings the family together. I have my wife (mechanical engineer) or my daughter pump the pedal for me.

Laguna Seca

The Golden Gate Lotus Club sponsored a high performance driving event at Laguna Seca soon after the new year. Larry took the picture of me diving down through the corkscrew.

The Toyo RA-1s were new to me the event before and I was looking forward to trying them again. However they still did not inspire as much confidence as the original A048 tires did. I thought I was faster in some of the slow speed turns and so perhaps I am still getting used to them.

There was a 1987 Honda Civic hatchback that blew by me a couple of times and seemed to be one of the quickest cars out there in the advanced group. I was amazed at how smooth and consistent he was. I also noticed he was running the RA-1s as well so decided to ask him how he did it, driving faster than the Elises. He chuckled and told me he had more horse power than we did and the car was lightened. I think he was just being modest because he was also a superb driver. After talking with him, I decided to drop the tire pressures even more. It seemed to help.

broken wheel

I tend to be slow in the morning and then get faster as the day progresses. I start slow, find the line, get used to the track again, and then progressively speed up. By the end of the day, I am pretty quick. Unfortunately some people try and go fast from the start. This Elise was in the internediate group and lost it in at the exit of turn ten, a banked righ turn. He over-corrected and headed for the inside of the turn and while the wall is far away from the track, he managed to smack it hard. The left front hit hard and the air bags deployed. The car continued to rotate and the left rear hit as well. The brand new car was totaled, before it even had its plates. It was sad. However it was still fascinating to look at the damage and analyze it. The rear toe link snapped off. The wheels were damaged and the brake rotor was cracked.