The Lotus Elise is one of the sexiest cars to hit the U.S. in ages – it’s a no-compromises sports car. Just ask any of the fat, middle-aged automotive journalists (this reporter included) who have tried to squeeze their fat butts into (and out of) one. This car is made for the lithe, strong, and capable.
But no real sports car is complete without its own racing series. And certainly Lotus, with a racing history second only to Ferrari, needs to be taking the lead in racing.
“When the Series 2 Elise came to the United States market for the first time in 2004, I immediately bought one and drove it straight to the track,” said Lotus Challenge Series founder and President Jim Navarro. “I decided it would be great to have a time trial and club race series where like-minded Lotus enthusiasts could enjoy their cars and improve their driving skills together, so Jack Fried, Robb Bonanno and I worked hard to build up the series last year. I’m proud of what we’ve built thus far in the Lotus Challenge Series and I particularly appreciate that all of our participants understand our series emphasizes safety and intelligence on the race track and they all drive accordingly.”
The inaugural year of the Lotus Challenge Series in 2008 included eight events. Six races at various California tracks and two events at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada. The first year of the series was a great success, featuring full grids and a lot of fun and camaraderie enjoyed by all.
With a good, solid first full year of learning and experience under their belt, the Lotus Challenge Series has been expanded for the 2009 season to 10 western U.S. events, and is now in the process of expanding further with an additional 4 events in Texas. As the race schedule is expanding for the series, the variety of the venues is growing as well, with upcoming events scheduled at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey and Infineon (Sears Point) Raceway in Sonoma.
In the midst of all this growth, Lotus Cars USA is stepping up to sponsor the series.
“The Lotus Challenge Series is a very well run organization that’s expanding through providing Lotus owners a fun, safe and positive environment in which to enjoy their Lotus vehicles and improve their driving skills,” said Lotus Cars USA, Inc. Director of Operations Arnie Johnson. “We’re extremely proud to support the expansion of the Lotus Challenge Series as the title sponsor and show some of our most devoted Lotus owners how much we appreciate them.”
The full array of Lotus’ current North American product offering competes in the Lotus Challenge Series including all the various Elise and Exige models and the track-only Exige Cup Car 255 and the current ultimate track-only Lotus 2-Eleven.
The remaining events on the Lotus Challenge Series 2009 Competition Schedule include:
- July 16 – 17 Laguna Seca Raceway
- August 8 Streets of Willow, Willow Springs
- September 3 Buttonwillow Raceway Park
- October 8 – 9 Infineon Raceway
- November 8 – 9 Spring Mountain Motor Sports Ranch
As the Lotus Challenge Series continues to grow in participation, organizers expect to expand into other parts of the country. Dates and details for new events in the south and on the east coast for 2010 will be announced in August 2009.