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Lotus 50th Anniversary Celebration at Lime Rock

Written by Clark Lance .

 

The Rolex Vintage Festival at Lime Rock Park during the Labor Day weekend served as the fitting venue for East Coast Club Elite members to gather and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Colin Chapman’s fiberglass beauty…..the Lotus Elite.

Early in 2007 I made contact with a small group of Elite owners that I knew in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut regarding a 50th anniversary get-together. Already planning to be a race participant in the Labor Day vintage races, I suggested Lime Rock Park as a venue for our meeting. Also celebrating a 50th anniversary, Lime Rock Park hosts the Rolex Vintage Festival by General Racing Ltd. and Sunday in the Park Concours sponsored by Road & Track who were also celebrating an anniversary, their 60th.

After some initial email communication with a handful of potential attendees my mailing list quickly grew to 30 eastern and northeastern Elite owners who were interested in supporting my 50th anniversary event. Special thanks to Jim Goodman and Don Trumpy who were especially helpful in getting the message out.

As the weeks passed into mid August it looked like we would see the following Elite owners at Lime Rock Park: 

Don Trumpy

Foster Cooperstein

Roger Barker

Joe Marchione

Lee Weinstein

Jim Goodman

Ron Hunter

Rob Burt

Clark Lance

Phil Cannon

Russ Newton

David Baker

Charles Fulop

Roger Busha

Gary Anderson

Geoff Griffiths

Carl Whitney

Chris Tchorznicki

David Kayser

Bob Wade

Contact with Lime Rock Park staff got me connected with Fred Jackson and Murray Smith who were the organizers of the Sunday in the Park Concours and Car Show. Fred had already been working with the local Lotus Clubs for a Lotus Parking Corral and a dealer display during the vintage race weekend. Fred and Murray quickly embraced my proposal for a 50th anniversary event for the Elite and very soon the “Plastic Fantastics” were added to the Sunday Concours as a featured class. This was great…..the Elite was given Anniversary Status in the Concours at the same time that Lime Rock Park and Road & Track were both marking their own significant anniversaries. Knowing that Murray is a vintage racer with significant credentials and on-track experience with the Elite, I was confident that the Elite would be given proper respect and recognition during the Sunday in the Park Concours.

Now, all I needed to do was get 2 cars prepared and transported to Lime Rock Park! The Elite was basically ready to go after re-installing the original SU carburetors, replacing the Webers that had been in place for the past 35 years. Joe Curto in NY assisted with an overhaul of the SUs. With a new fuel pump in the boot and a replacement throttle cable from the local bike shop, EB1630 was ready to go. My Elan racecar was another story. After at incident at Lime Rock in September of 2005, the Elan had been under repair for left side body damage. The summer months were filled with fiberglass repair and painting, with plans to participate in the Rolex Vintage Festival on the Labor Day weekend, along with the Elite 50th Celebration. (sometimes I wonder why I can’t just take on one project at a time.)

Wednesday, August 29th arrived and both cars are ready to go. First the Elan was trailered to Lime Rock, followed by the Elite the next morning. My Friday and Saturday were filled with practice and a 10 lap race in Group 7 for Sports and GT Cars 1960 – 1965.   I just love being the smallest car on the track….especially with all those big bore cars thundering around me. Overall my race weekend including the Monday race was great fun. I had been away from the track for 2 years with a damaged car and it was fun to be back in the action. But that’s another story.

As the weekend progressed I began to connect with some of the arriving Elite owners. First to arrive on Friday was David Baker, along with Elite 1203. David’s Elite is both street and track ready and he regularly uses it for both. As the track activities were winding down Geoffrey Griffiths arrived with the spectacularly restored Elite 1982, which immediately drew a huge crowd of admirers. On Saturday morning Lee Weinstein came by, his beautiful green Elite 1323 being parked at the Lotus Dealers’ Tent on the Manufacturers Midway were it was drawing considerable attention from the visitors. By afternoon on Saturday Joe Marchione stopped by and I learned that Don Trumpy with Elite 1354 was on the premises as well as Roger Barker and Ron Hunter with Elite 1256 all the way from Toronto Ontario, Canada.

Usually my Labor Day race weekends at Lime Rock Park include a Sunday of rest; but not this year. The Sunday in the Park Concours and the 50th anniversary gathering of Elites was just a night’s sleep away.   9:15 AM at Lime Rock Park was the requested arrival time for participants in the “Plastic Fantastics” class. At 8:30 AM on Sunday the track was already a frenzy of activity, as cars of all shapes and sizes began to arrive for the concours sponsored by Road & Track.

The Elites were provided with a prime parking location near the start-finish line where nine Elites parked in a formation reminiscent of a LeMans Start…..a great sight indeed, reminding me of the Elite’s significant success in the classic 24-hour race.

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Roger Busha and Elite 1306 arrived without a windshield or back glass, after many late hours of assembly getting his Elite road worthy for the trip to Lime Rock. Carl Whitney arrived with Elite 1399 followed by Don Trumpy in 1354 and Roger Barker in 1256. The lone race participating Elite 1222 of Rob Burt joined the line-up along with Lee Weinstein’s 1323, Geoffrey Griffiths 1982, David Baker’s 1203 and my 1630. While the Elites received considerable attention from those attending the concours the Elite owners began to get acquainted with one another and answered questions from the appreciative viewers.   For me it was fun to re-acquaint with some Elite owners and make some new friends among the Elite family.

 In chronological order, the Elites attending were: 

1203   – David Baker

1222   – Rob Burt

1256   – Roger Barker

 

1306   – Roger Busha

1323   – Lee Weinstein

1354   – Don Trumpy

 

1399   – Carl Whitney/Ray Petrie

1630   – Clark Lance

1982   - Geoffrey Griffiths

While some of us hid from the scorching sun, Elite owners spent the day connecting, sharing their experiences and answering each other’s Elite questions. I think Jim Goodman thoroughly examined every Elite in greater detail than my annual medical physical….no wonder he is the WiseEliteGuy! I was inspired by the passion and knowledge of Roger Barker and Ron Hunter from Toronto, both Elite owners since the 60’s. Roger and Lee Weinstein brought their Elites to the 1994 Elite Reunion at Lime Rock and this year’s 50th event while Rob Burt’s Elite was here in ’94 but with former owner, the late Bob Akin. I enjoyed getting to know Don Trumpy and learning of our mutual experiences in the Detroit area when we were much younger lads. Carl Whitney and Gary Anderson know just a bit about early Loti and were able to answer many questions about the whereabouts and history of Elites that reside in the northeast. (Carl will once again get an opportunity to straighten the nose of David Belden’s Lotus Mark 9 after an unfortunate encounter with an Allard in Saturday’s 10 lapper. Good luck Carl!) Without his Elite, Russ Newton joined us, spending the day taking photographs. Additional Elite owners present included Charles Fulop, Foster Cooperstein, David Kayser, Phil Cannon and Ray Petrie.

Weary from the heat of the day our small band of Elite Brothers transferred to the Interlaken Inn in nearby Lakeville for a causal meal and continued conversation. We broke up the party about 9:00 PM.

No notable Lotus designers, engineers or racers present……not 65 Elites participating as at Silverstone……just 18 passionate Elite owners and 9 beautiful Elites together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Colin Chapman’s fiberglass marvel.

Two of the best post-event comments heard from our attendees:

              David Baker - “We should celebrate the second 50th, in say ten years so we could be there.”

Ron Hunter - “In spite of having my Elite for 42 years this was the first event I have attended with more than 3 Elites. After 10+ hours of driving home I was still on a high and driving my wife crazy telling her about it.”

I think our little 50th anniversary event was a huge success. Thanks to everyone who supported this effort.

 

Lime Rock Photo Gallery 

    

    

    

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David Baker and  Elite 1203

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Lee Weinstein,   Joe Marchione & Don Trumpy

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Jim Goodman   & Gary Anderson

 The Lads

Roger   Barker, Roger Busha, Ron Hunter, Russ Newton, Ray Petrie, Jim Goodman, Carl   Whitney, Clark Lance, Don Trumpy, Lee Weinstein, Gary Anderson (L to R) 

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Ron Hunter and   Roger Barker

50th BADGE greenBrian   Caldersmith

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Jim Goodman   & Geoff Griffiths

 

Lotus Elite 50th Anniversary Lime Rock Park     September 2, 2007

1203 David Baker
1203   David Baker

1222 Rob Burt
1222   Rob Burt

1256 Roger Barker
1256   Roger Barker

1354 Don Trumpy
1354   Don Trumpy

1306 Roger Busha
1306   Roger Busha

1399 Carl Whitney
1399   Carl   Whitney/Ray Petrie

1323 Lee Weinstein
1323   Lee Weinstein

1630 Clark Lance
1630   Clark Lance

1982 Geoffrey Griffiths
1982   Geoffery   Griffiths

 

Copyright © 2012 Clark Lance  All rights reserved.

 

Photo Gallery