Lotus Elite 60th Anniversary

Eastern Creek 2017

By Tony Galletly. Photos by Seth Reinhardt and Evan Jones.

The invitation was out early for all interested in the 60th Anniversary of the famous Lotus Elite. Brian Caldersmith had rallied the troops and with Club Lotus Australia support it promised to be a good weekend.

Saturday’s Sprint and dinner, Sunday’s Shannon’s Classic and Monday’s Wakefield Park event meant that some had a very big weekend. Martin O’Brien flew the flag for the whole weekend in his Elise, which was great to see. Interesting to see Rex Hodder keeping up with Martin in his Exige around Eastern Creek’s long circuit. For those who haven’t seen the extra ‘Amaroo’ part of the track, it has some very challenging sections.

Brian had organised a dinner on the Saturday night, which was a real Elite night for present and past owners. A number of Lotus enthusiasts from around the world had sent letter of support and a rolling slideshow kept the memories running. Don Christopher, the Elite Register Editor flew in from Seattle with his family for the weekend.

On the Sunday was the annual Shannons Classic Display Day at Eastern Creek where almost 2000 cars attend. Club Lotus had secured the top dummy grid with a large paved area and secure shed for the interstaters. An amazing early 17 Elites were displayed in all their glory. Queensland was well represented by Wybe and Angela Geertsma with their red ex-London Motor Show car and John Wagstaff with his pale blue Elite, Martin in his Elise, George and Andrew Row took the S1 Seven and Tony and Lisa Galletly with the Eleven.

Other cars of interest were Ed Holly’s ex-Norm Phillips Elite with the restoration almost complete and also his ex-Alan Swindles/Steve Austin/Leigh Vine S2 Seven finally on the road. Club Lotus was very lucky to have a few quiet laps of the long circuit with a photo opportunity on the main straight. John Wagstaff took out the overall Elite award.

I wonder if a Sydney gathering for the 70th Anniversary of Lotus in 2018 might happen and could well draw even bigger numbers especially from Queensland?

Shannon’s Sydney Classic

By Giles Cooper

The 60th birthday of the ground-breaking Lotus Elite was also celebrated at the 2017 Shannon’s Sydney Classic, held at Sydney Motorsport Park on 13th August.

Since there was also a sprint meeting at the same venue on the 12th, as well as a Simply Sports Cars Lotus Only Track Day on Monday the 14th, I decided it was a good opportunity to not only enjoy many things Lotus, but also to catch up with some good friends who I had not seen since before I went away on my global travels in 2014. So, I set off down to Sydney in my Lotus Europa – my first long trip in the car since buying it almost a year ago.

Having travelled on both the boring Newell and New England Highways several times over the past few months, I decided to risk the ongoing road work delays on the coast road, and was pleasantly surprised to find it relatively delay free, and after a night near Taree, I arrived in Sydney on Friday afternoon.

I had passed Wybe Geertsma towing his lovely red Elite on the way, and it had been a perfect sunny drive all the way. I was to stay with Ashton for the weekend, as was Martin O’Brien who had also made the trek down from Queensland – albeit on an airplane! We had a pleasant evening around a log fire with Ashton and his wife Caroline, discussing all things Lotus, including the fact that Ashton had seemingly “forgotten” to enter for the Saturday Sprint, and therefore was not able to run!

On Saturday, Martin left early for the sprint, while Ashton and I spent much of the day at his home sorting out cars, going shopping for parts, and other mundane matters. However, when we went shopping, in all the busy Sydney traffic, we went in Ashton’s Lotus XI, and I have to admit that it was one of the most fun shopping trips I have ever been on. Anyone who thinks that they get a lot of looks and photos taken of them when in their Elise or other Lotus needs to go out in the XI. People are almost jumping out in front of you all the time to take photos! And zipping through the traffic with the whine of the straight cut gears in my ears… I have not laughed so much for a long time. What a great shopping trip!

The next morning, we headed off to Sydney Motorsport Park for the Shannon’s Classic and it was another perfect day weather-wise. The Lotus Clubs parked up near the entrance and, apart from the many Elites with several from Interstate, there was also a collection of Sevens who were celebrating their 60th birthday as well, not to forget the Elan +2’s 50th, the Type 51 FF’s 50th, and the Type 49’s 50th. It was also birthday time for the Fiat Cinquecento, the Renault R8 Gordini, the Lambretta and the Pontiac Firebird!

I have no idea how many classic cars were there, but there must have been several thousand, and it was wonderful to see them all arriving during the morning. In addition, from 9 am till 4pm there were different clubs taking their turn for a lap or two of the circuit, and that of Club Lotus Australia was prime time, at 12 noon.

We were led out by the many Lotus Elites, and following them, all the rest of the Lotus streamed out – Sevens, Elans old and new, Cortinas, Esprits, Excels, Elises, Exiges, Evoras, Europas old and new – and one beautiful 1928 Bentley 4½ litre belonging to CLA stalwart, Syd Reinhardt. When we got to the start line, the Elites all lined up on the grid for a birthday photograph, and then the rest of the Lotus moved down to join in the fun, before we drove slowly around the rest of the circuit and back to our car park.

We then gathered for the prizegiving following the Club Concours for which judging had been underway all morning, and to spend even more time standing around talking to everyone and admiring the many cars present. Most people then spent some time wandering through the infield area where many of the other car clubs were gathered, as well as a good mix of trade stands there for everything from model cars to classic car wiring looms. What an amazing array of classic cars – a fitting salute to our very own Lotus Elite on this its 60th birthday.

We then left SMP to collect our bags from Ashton’s house and head out to Wakefield Park near Goulburn for the Simply Sports Cars Lotus Only Track Day. Unfortunately there was a major accident on the freeway leaving Sydney which delayed us for an hour or more, so it was dark by the time we arrived in Goulburn. We had time for a quick supper with many of our fellow participants before heading to bed.

Monday dawned very cold, although thankfully no frost, unlike the last Lotus visit when it was apparently -10 degrees! In the end, it turned out to be a perfect winter day of blue skies and pleasant temperatures. Out to Wakefield Park where, as usual, Simply Sports Car and Race Solutions put on a brilliant day of on-track competition and off-track socialising.

There was the very competitive Race Group, three Sprint groups, and also a Drive group for people who didn’t want to go quite as fast as some of the others. Given that this weekend was so special for the car, it was lovely to see Pat Mottram out in this group in her Elite. Queenslander Martin O’Brien was in the race group in his Elise, and acquitted himself very well, giving the V6 Exige boys a lot of bother, and even showing them a clean pair of heels in the last round. SSC really do provide a full-service meeting, with mechanics to help everyone, instructors to provide tuition where requested, and passenger rides in the KTM and other race cars auctioned off to raise money for Beyond Blue.

Once all the activity was over, it was back to Sydney and a great meal with Ashton and his wife, and then Martin left early the next morning to drive home. I had a couple of Austin Healey related errands to run in Sydney before I too left and headed north again, arriving back home late the same evening.

An excellent Lotus weekend, and a chance to catch up with a lot of friends. What better way to celebrate both my birthday and that of the Lotus Elite!