Emails from Listeners

Here is where I’ll be posting some of the interesting emails that we’ve been receiving from listeners. Some will be edited for length and relevance, and of course, if you wish to send comments that you don’t want posted here, please let me know.


Greg,

Thanks for adding the great photo of Dave Vegher fresh from his National Championship victory at Road Atlanta to your website photo gallery.   For Lotus Elan fans it was a long drought from  1,2,3 C-Production sweep at the 1965 Daytona Run-Offs to Dave’s trifecta of D-Production and GT-3 Championships in the early 80s.   During the years between the demise of the 26R in 1967 and the re-classification to D-Production Elans pretty much were out gunned by Datsun Zs and various Porsches.  Lots of folks raced Elans but most with limited success.

I’ve not seen many good photos of Dave’s Elan so the one in your photo gallery is most interesting to me.  It reminds me that it took a pretty wide fender flare to cover a 9 inch slick tire.  And I also see that Dave paid great attention to panel fit, hood, headlamp pod and door gaps for the most aerodynamic advantage.  His comments in one of the earlier Podcasts about Twincam induction with the D-Production mandated 28MM chokes was quite interesting.  Perhaps the slippery body paid dividends with the added weight and smaller induction.  Sounds like Dave brought some sound engineering and engine development to his Elan successes.  I’ve talked to many who raced Elans in the 70s.  Dave’s comments about his experiences are most interesting.

My time racing an Elan began in 1974 when the SCCA had just lifted the ban on fender flares so the very limited tire room on the stock Elan body was no longer a concern.  Additionally, 1974 was the first year for dry-sump oiling on production class cars and of course the Elan is probably the easiest car to convert to dry-sump given the ready access to Formula Ford and similar parts.  Perhaps no great HP advantage but a great addition to engine durability.  1974 was also the year in which Formula Atlantic changed from Twincam power to BDA power.  Consequently there were lots of Atlantic Twincams available for Elan racers.  By 1976 I had a Brian Hart 416B……just remove the slide valve fuel injection and add DCOE40s.

By 1974 Elan racers had 9 inch wide slick tires, dry-sump lubrication, 190 HP but now the gearbox became the weak link in the driveline.  The Elan close ratio box was all there was.  No Quaife dog boxes with ultra close ratios back then.  Constant high RPM proved too much for the gear bushings and countershaft.

Dave Bean was the only source for help.  His business then was RRS Engineering with partner Jim Lissner in El Segundo CA near LAX.  Dave had raced Elans during the dark days post the 26R demise and the more open rules of 1974.  Most Elan race parts were home grown then.  No TTR parts catalog and 100% new cars then…..you found a cheap Elan S2 and just started experimenting.

Racing in the Chicago area I had limited funds and never realistically raced for a trip to the Run-Offs.  On the shorter tracks I managed some 2nd and 3rd finishes and had one National Race Victory when the soon to be 1977 National Champ 280Z of Logan Blackburn failed to finish.  At the fast Road America track the best 280Zs were faster than most of B-Production Corvettes.

Gave it up in 1978, got married, had 2 daughters.  2003 daughters out of school I jumped back into vintage racing with another Elan.  Now, same wife and we all enjoyed 5 vintage race weekends in 2015 along with a son-in-law and grandson Jack.  It beats playing golf and is even more fun than when I was 25…..got my own fans now.

I listened to the latest Podcast during my morning commute and really enjoyed the conversation about LeMans Classic.  I was also there in 2004 and I’ll tell you about my LeMans Classic adventure in another message.

The Podcasts are great.

Cheers,

Clark Lance

Thanks very much for your email, Clark! Dave got a kick out of it as I read it to him while he was working on 4 simultaneous engine builds. You brought up some names he hadn’t thought about in awhile. Thanks for your support, Greg


Hello Greg,

I attach some photos of my twincam with my Elan in the background. The engine is still out of the car. I think you are familiar with this recent engine build by Dave Vegher. It’s using one of the newly cast heads as you have discussed on the podcasts.

Dave further applied his expertise to create an amazing engine for the street: 181 Hp @ 6900 and an almost flat torque curve from 4000 to 6900 (143 ft lbs @ 5100). Going to be fun after I get the rest of the car together and back on the road!

Enjoying the podcasts. Keep it up. Be interested in having Dave expound on the difference in building an engine for the street vs for racing and how each are accomplished. I know Dave took the same great care in building my street engine as he would have for a race oriented motor. But, higher revs, different cams, potentially  larger ports/carburetion,  etc. undoubtedly call for some different approaches. There are also the regulations to adhere to as well for racing that do not restrict a street engine build.

PS: I am the original owner of this 69 Elan S4 SE. I picked it up at the factory in July 1969 and drove it around the UK and throughout the Continent for that summer. Getting it back on the road after a 13 year hiatus (one of several breaks in service over the last 46+ years).

Regards,

Naury Birnbaum

Thanks for your email and idea for an episode discussion, Naury. I think it’s a great suggestion. Dave and I can talk about the design criteria for your engine, and how those were implemented. We can also use as an example, a street BDA engine build that Dave will be guiding me on in the near future.

 

Greg Tatarian, Host