A sobering lesson for occasional trackdayers

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Just back from an excellent weekend at Le Mans with Club Lotus France. 2 days on the Bugatti circuit, staying with friends and a lot of sunshine.
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However I count myself pretty lucky to be here to tell the tale…

2 laps into my fourth session on track in a fast sweeping right hander after the Dunlop bridge I suddenly had a bad vibration from the left rear wheel.

I slowed and trickled back to the pits my immediate feeling was perhaps a puncture.

In the pits its obviously not a puncture, no sign of a big lump of rubber picked up on track, there is no movement top to bottom when trying to rock the wheel but there is lateral movement… toe link?

A French Lotus dealer was at the track giving support and he seemed to agree, puts the trolley jack under the car, two or three pumps… and the [censored] wheel nearly fell off! All 4 studs were barely finger tight and only a couple of turns left on each!

Before leaving home the car had been in for a service and oil change, I had changed the wheels and torqued the nuts up.

On the way to the ferry I had called at “a leading Lotus motorsport specialist” to have a sender unit for the oil temperature gauge replaced. They had agreed to fit in the visit en route from Cornwall to the Le Mans Track Weekend… which they knew.

They removed the rear wheels to adjust the weight balance and to avoid the car tipping off the 4 arm lift. The sender and sump plug were replaced, I paid the bill and set off for France…

Now it is just a coincidence that the last time they did a geo on my previous car they set one rear wheel toe in and the other toe out… that was interesting too!

Now all you seasoned track go’ers probably do this already but those of us who only go on track 3 or 4 times a year rely on so called specialists.

So… the lesson… DON’T TRUST EVEN THE EXPERTS, CHECK THINGS YOURSELF

I have not “named and shamed” as I haven’t had chance to speak to them yet, it happened late on Saturday and I only returned home at 5am Monday morning. In my book there is no excuse for negligence like this… I feel that I used up a lot of my luck in France this weekend.

that was really lucky! hope they make it up to you

I hope it didn’t ruin all your fun.

Good advice, a lesson learned the hard way (you’ll always find a torque wrench in my bag at a trackday BTW).

So, are you going to share who it was? Everybody makes the occasional mistake but it’s the number of mistakes they make that other potential customers should be aware of. If you share your experience then so may others and then we hopefully have a fair picture. The power of the Internet at work!

I must say, I do rather like that silver S2 with the crome 5 spokes.

Ian

I hope it didn’t ruin all your fun.

Good advice, a lesson learned the hard way (you’ll always find a torque wrench in my bag at a trackday BTW).

So, are you going to share who it was? Everybody makes the occasional mistake but it’s the number of mistakes they make that other potential customers should be aware of. If you share your experience then so may others and then we hopefully have a fair picture. The power of the Internet at work!

I must say, I do rather like that silver S2 with the crome 5 spokes.

Ian

That’s my S2 btw.

Only fair to discuss it on the phone with them first.

Not sure you can definitively pin that down to the specialist.

I have driven vehicles that I have fitted the wheels to, torqued up correctly and then checked them again 50 miles down the road to have found them loose again.

I would guess the real lesson is to make checking the wheel nuts, oil, water and a visual check of the complete outside of the vehicle a pre-cursor to starting any track session.

In the military such things as a First Parade, Halt Parade & Final Parade were standard drills when driving any vehicle.

Are the wheels new ? just refurbished or something ?

And it was nearside rear … the side that “self undoes” … Mmmmm

The garage concerned was on the phone to me first thing this morning, pre-empting my call to them!

They feel that the studs were torqued up and can’t imagine how they could not have been. In all reality, they can’t prove they did which would make it a freak event and I can’t prove they didn’t.

So, they are replacing the studs as a goodwill gesture, no real harm was done and a huge lesson was learned by me.

Be careful out there guys…