Holy Horsepower

It has been a busy week and I’m a little behind on getting the blog updated. So I’ll post things a bit out of sequence. I’m still putting together two or three videos of my drive home from Snowmass over Independence and Loveland passes. That work was slowed down by an evening at the Great American Beer Festival and a trip today down to Ferrari of Denver for a little car show which they called “Holy Horsepower.”

Saturday, September 22

Hours on the flyer stated 10am to 2pm, but their parking lot is small so I figured it was better to be early than late. As it was, I didn’t arrive until a few minutes after ten and by then they were pretty well full. They directed me to a nice spot that could hold two small cars. “We can probably fit another Lotus in there.” I wandered off for a bit and when I got back it wasn’t a Lotus in the spot next to me but a Tesla Roadster. Close enough!

I quickly spotted Kent’s 2017 Ford GT. It took me a while to track him down. When I did, I asked if he remembered me telling him that, even though I like all his cars, the only one I would ask to drive was his 2005 GT. I said I’d renege on that now that he has the new one. That got a smile out of him. I told him to expect an email from me.

As is usual in these things, if they were to give out an award for the dirtiest car I’d win. I haven’t had a chance to wash it since the Snowmass trip, so it’s all covered with bugs, dust, and track grime.

As expected, there was no shortage of fancy machinery. I neglected to get photos of the Morris Mini and the yellow Pantera. Actually, there were quite a few cars I didn’t get pictures of. But my photographic skills aren’t that great, so I figure I’ll go easy on everybody.

This was my best look at the Tesla and Elise side-by-side. I’d heard that they share only something like 7% of parts, and it looks like most of those are on the interior. The Tesla is several hundred pounds heavier but uses the same brakes. I was surprised by that, but it makes use of regenerative braking, so the brakes don’t need to work so hard.

I took a few shots of a pretty orange Aventador. It was one of the few cars with the engine compartment open. I was somewhat amused that they have a plaque with the engine firing order on it. I don’t recall seeing that before.

Quite a few people left by noon, but a few cars kept arriving throughout the time I was there. The one that drew the biggest crowd was a pearl white Ferrari LaFerrari Aptera 70th Anniversary car. I heard somebody say it was worth $6 million. I don’t know my Ferraris. I didn’t know it was a LaFerrari until I looked it up at home. Sure enough, it looks like that $6 million figure could be correct. Wow. Pictures don’t do the paint job justice.

When I found Ryan I told him I was interested in getting an ECU dump for my car. He said it was pretty easy and offered to do it. He brought out his scan tool and laptop and in a couple minutes I had the data. He did this last year when he rebuilt the top half of my motor, but I didn’t get a copy. I was most interested in time spent at various engine speeds. In adding these up and counting the amount of track time I have, I’m a bit surprised I’m not above 5700rpm even more than is shown. The time by car speed maps out to my expectations pretty well, so I don’t doubt the data.


Saturday, August 18

I didn’t enter today’s event but went out anyway just to hang out. We wanted a big turnout from Lotus Colorado and I’d have to say we did it. By my count we had nine cars entered, but I’ll admit that I’m not certain every Lotus there was brought by a club member. Still, I’m not sure we’ve had that many Lotus at a track day other than for LOG at PPIR.

It started to rain just before the lunch break, and by noon it was coming down quite hard. As I was improperly dressed for the weather – shorts and t-shirt and no rain gear – I figured it was a good time to make my escape. I hope the squall was short-lived and the folks who stayed managed to get additional track time.

I had a good time visiting with everybody and taking pictures. Somehow I talked Junmo into showing up with his drone. I hope he found the morning worth his time. I shot quite a few pictures, thinking I got at least one of each Lotus in attendance. I managed to miss getting one of Gordon, though. Don’t know how that happened. Sorry, Gordon.

Ford GT

It was only the second time I met Kent when I asked him what I had to do to drive his Ford GT. This was on the Braille Rally last year. I was delighted when he answered, “Buy me a six pack of craft beer.” Unfortunately, he left before I exchanged contact info with him. Since then, I’ve been keeping my eye out for him. I finally connected with him at the Concours a few weeks ago.

I asked him if his offer was genuine or if it was just a polite way of putting me off. He responded that the price had gone up to two six packs and we exchanged cards. One Friday he emailed and said I could drive it that Saturday. I had plans and felt it would be poor form to cancel, so I told Kent that didn’t work for me. Then I worried I wouldn’t get another chance.

But persistence won out and we arranged to get together yesterday for a beer. So with painters tape holding one turn signal in and the other one missing, I drove the Elise to Kent’s. I even was lucky enough to score a parking spot right in front of his house. We went to his garage and he gave me the nickel tour. He has some very nice automobiles, any of which I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to drive, but the Ford GT stands out for me.

I can’t say that the GT is the car I most want to drive of all cars ever made. I can only dream of driving an F1 car. Likewise, I’ve never even laid eyes on many supercars you see on Top Gear. At museums and auctions I’ve seen dozens of fantastic cars that I never had any realistic chance of even sitting in, let alone riding in. But I’m hard pressed to come up with any other car that given a chance to drive that I’d choose over of the GT.

2014-07-04 16.29.45sMy specific request was, “I don’t even want to drive it fast, just around the block.” So after the tour of the garage, he backed the GT out and we headed to Strange Brew for beer. On the way, he gave it just a little kick in the pants. Just that little squirt of the throttle was … sublime.

But before quenching our thirst, we switched seats and Kent directed me on a short circuit of the area. We got on I-25 and then immediately off. I really wanted to punch it but I took it easy – you never know what other drivers will do. Then we made a wrong turn and had to turn around. I made Kent a little nervous when it took me a couple tries to find reverse, but we made it back to the Strange Brew without incident. I’m used to getting a lot of attention in the Elise, but I don’t think I ever had a guy in the next lane at the light yell at the top of his lungs, “That is an awesome car, man!”

Over beer we swapped car stories. His are much better than mine. It started raining when we were chatting and Kent needled me a bit – “Now I’m going to have to wash it.”

2014-07-04 16.29.54sIt took me quite a while to stop calling these cars GT 40’s. When the GT was at the SEMA show in 2003, it was labelled GT 40. But there was an issue with rights to the name, so it ended up just Ford GT. Kent has a small poster made from materials from that SEMA show in his garage. And he had GT 40 graphics made up and applied to the doors.

I was quite surprised how easy the car was to drive. I was expecting a brute. It was quiet, had a smooth ride, was comfortable. It has leg room to spare; I did not drive with the seat all the way back as in most cars. It’s a very wide car, the driver and passenger sit quite far apart. Rear visibility was a bit worse than the Elise. The wing mirrors are small, and the a-pillars are so big if you’re short you won’t be able to see the one on the drivers side. And ingress and egress require a wide parking spot – you pretty much have to open the doors all the way.

I can’t thank Kent enough for letting me drive his car. We’re barely acquaintances. And I understand why exotic cars don’t get driven much, but I always kind of felt that a car that isn’t driven isn’t fulfilling its destiny: cars are made to be driven. So I think it’s great that Kent drives his cars, and I’m happy he shared his passion with me.

September Cars & Coffee, Lafayette

Always an interesting and eclectic mix of cars at the Lafayette Cars & Coffee. As usual, exotics were in abundance and hot rods and muscle cars were the exception.

This beautiful Ford GT in iconic Gulf colors caught my eye. There was also a replica of a Ford GT-40 in red.

The car that drew the most attention was the Ferrari F40. It always had a crowd around it and I couldn’t get a nice picture of it until the owner moved it from the middle of the parking lot into a single space.

In the Lotus department, I counted five Elises, two Exiges, and an Elite. There may have been a Caterham or two as well. We generally manage to line up at least two or three in a row but not today.

Today was the first time I used the SLR since having it cleaned. Wow! It’s like a brand new camera.