My Lotus #1: Texan enthusiast with FOUR Lotus cars

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Al R. Brussich racing his 2-Eleven on track

Welcome to the first installment of the My Lotus featured owners series here at Lotus Enthusiast.

My Lotus is a chance for you to do something much of the motoring press can’t do – explain ‘it’, that special attachment we have to the Lotus brand as Lotus enthusiasts. ‘It’ is what makes Lotus cars so much more than simply a design of metal and plastic.

Today we feature Al R. Brussich from Houston, Texas, who owns no less than four Lotus models.

Vehicle Information:

Year – 1989, 2005, 2008, 1969

Model – Esprit Turbo, Elise, 2-11, Type 61

Mileage -100,500+, 27,500, 595, n/a

Original Color – Black, Chrome Orange, Chrome Orange, not known

Current Color –same, same, same, BRG

Engine – 2.2L, 1.9L, 1.9L (SC), 1.6L

Engine Modifications – too many, none, none, none

Exhaust Modifications – too many, performance exhaust and intake, none, n/a

Transmission Modifications – none, typ.

Suspension Modifications – complete redo, none, none, n/a

Brake Modifications – none, typ.

Wheels and Tires – upgraded to 91 spec, upgraded to Exige spec, none, n/a

Exterior/Body Modifications – none, none, none, slight modifications for driver fit and cooling

Interior Modifications – none, upgraded to custom Probax seats and color match door panels and new stereo, none, n/a

How long have you owned these cars?

Esprit – 17 1/2 years (Jan. 1992)

Elise – 4 ½ years (Feb. 2005)

2-11 – 10 months (Oct. 2008)

Type 61 – 2 years (July 2007)

Is there anything unique about the histories of the cars?

Esprit – I am the second owner, purchased with 1738 miles on odometer. Engine has never been apart.

Type 61 was originally purchased for the Jim Russell racing school and to promote Formula Ford racing in the United States. I am the third owner.

Why did you purchase these cars?

Esprit – I was initially looking at a third generation Mazda Rx7 but did not like the deal being offered. As the wife and I were leaving the dealership she spotted the Esprit on a stand in the Toyota used car lot across the road and suggested we take a look. The salesman who came out to greet us knew nothing about the Esprit and offered it at a price considerably less than it was worth. I came back the following morning with a check. The salesman was subsequently fired for the money lost on the car.

Elise – Wife’s car. Having given up her 1990 Alfa Spider and being without a sports car for some time, she saw the Elise and put her name down on the list. The color choice was to honor my birthday which falls on Halloween and she also happens to like orange. After a test drive there was no other choice.

2-11 – Being involved in vintage racing and wanting to get into more modern racing the wife suggested the 2-11. I was initially looking at other types and manufacturers but a lot of peer pressure, an offer of dealer sponsorship, discovering that the car was available in orange, and at the wife’s suggestion the 2-11 was chosen.

Type 61 – The team already had a type 61 and we wanted to have two of the same cars on the team so that my partner and I would be able to continue racing within the Formula Ford class. Also it had to be a Lotus.

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What other cars did you consider?

Esprit – 3rd gen Mazda Rx7

Elise – none

2-11 – Brabham BT40, Exige cup car, Caterham, Lola prototype, and a long list of others

Type 61 – see above

What was your objective?

Esprit – replacement for 2nd gen Mazda Rx7 and move up in class of sports car.

Elise – to get the wife back into her own sports car and in a Lotus

2-11 – move into more modern race class and get the wife in the drivers seat of a race car

Type 61 – To have a second team car so that once and for all the question of who is the fastest would be resolved. I am quite pleased with the result.

Who helped you build these cars?

Esprit – primarily me.

Elise – n/a

2-11 – n/a

Type 61 – myself with a small bit of help from my race team partner and certain specialty shops (transmission and engine rebuilds by others). Experience for the rebuild came from previous restoration of first team car which also is a Type 61.

What makes your cars special?

Esprit – At the time of purchase it was the only one I had ever seen in my area and that type of exclusivity is important. Now it’s the fact that I’ve had it for as long as I have and the mileage it has and the enjoyment it still provides. I have no plans on removing it from my stable anytime soon. It was also the start of my return to racing.

Elise – It makes the wife happy and as any married male knows that’s what matters most. ;-)

2-11 – Again, exclusivity. With only 34 in the country I’m sure I will not be seeing others at every race event.

Type 61 – It’s a car that I brought back to life and has brought my racing efforts back from the past. It’s as much fun as one can have with their clothes on.

Actually that last bit applies to all the above.

What are your favorite parts/features/functions?

Esprit – The uniqueness, style, performance

Elise – Just plain fun to drive

2-11 – The ability to outrun other cars on the track having twice the power, costing substantially more, and seeing the looks on the faces of certain marque egotistical drivers after they have had their hat handed to them. The ease with which to drive the car fast. The handling and acceleration.

Type 61 – The camaraderie of those in the vintage racing organization that this car has introduced me to.

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Who or what inspired the direction of modifications?

Esprit – the desire to get better performance out of a car that had it there waiting to be realized.

Elise – The wife has modified her car to achieve a unique look and satisfy her needs for speed and performance.

2-11 – Mods to this car were strictly for the sake of meeting SCCA requirements

Type 61 – no mods, car has been restored to as close to original as possible.

What don’t you like about each car?

Esprit – That it’s not new anymore. The dismal A/C system.

Some aspects of how it was originally assembled. The latter making certain repair projects a real nightmare

Elise – should have been offered with a Supercharger right from the start. A/C system not designed to cope with the heat of the U.S. south west.

2-11 – U.S. spec cars are not allowed on the street. Lotus, knowing that the cars sold in the U.S. would not be street legal should have installed the track spec parts I now have to add from the start.

Type 61 – It’s forcing me to diet and exercise a lot more.

What was your biggest obstacle?

Applicable to all: time and money

How did you overcome the issue?

I’m still working on it. As soon as that winning lottery ticket pops up all those problems will be resolved.

What would you change if you could?

Esprit – I would have preferred the inter-cooled version. The A/C system

Elise – Add a supercharger, upgrade the suspension to a fully adjustable set-up. Install stainless steel braided brake lines and upgrade top AP brakes

2-11 – trade it for the race ready GT spec car

Type 61 – exchange it for a Type 69B

On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with the outcome?

Esprit – 8. car is still a work in progress

Elise – 10

2-11 – 10

Type 61 – 8. the restore is not perfect, but I’m for the most part quite pleased with the end result.

What would you do if money were no object?

Esprit – complete respray and interior retrim. Install an intercooler.

Elise – Add supercharge and intercooler, upgrade clutch and suspension

2-11 – trade in for GT4 car

Type 61 – Redo paint and body, take it apart and do a complete and professional frame up rebuild.

Who has been your biggest critic?

Esprit – Me and wife to a degree.

Elise – the wife

2-11 – no one yet

Type 61 – Me

What do your family and friends say about your cars?

Esprit – you still driving that thing?! You’ve got how many miles?!

Elise – Wow, that’s orange!

2-11 – What the hell is that?

Type 61 – Don’t tell me you fit in that! And, “You know they’ll probably have to bury you in that thing”

What is your most memorable/humorous/embarrassing moment with the cars?

Esprit – Most memorable:

In 1992, after just having purchased the car, the wife and I decided to drive it out to California for the Pebble Beach Concours and Monterey Historic races. During an overnight stop-over in Palm Springs we were asked to pose with the car in front of a multi-million dollar home for the purpose of a promotional sales photo for the real-estate.

Most humorous:

One day while getting into the car I noticed that a lady, who was parked directly in front of me, had stopped getting into her car and was openly staring at me and the Esprit. Normally I would have ignored this behavior but she was so blatant about it I had to ask her what the problem was. Obviously embarrassed at being caught staring she apologized and stated that she was wondering how I was going to be able to get into that thing.

I couldn’t help but laugh at her embarrassment and the situation.

Most embarrassing:

On the way to the 27th Lotus Owners Gathering in Colorado, while in the midst of an uphill multi-car pass on Interstate 25 just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the two dollar and fifty cent vacuum belt let go and wrapped itself around the cam belt causing all the exhaust valves to be bent thereby leaving me stranded on the side of the highway as all my traveling companions disappeared over the hill.

The truly embarrassing bit was having to explain to everyone at the next local club meet that the prize I brought home from the event was a trophy for the sad sack award and an up and coming expensive repair bill. Embarrassing because I have a reputation for having well maintained cars.

Elise – Most memorable:

The day the wife got her car.

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Most humorous:

While out for a Saturday drive in the country we stopped in at a small town car show. The car was parked on the street just in front of the show which was mostly made up of hot rods and vintage Detroit Iron. Within an hour everyone that had been milling around the cars in the show were now gathered around the wife’s car. There were quite a few upset car owners left standing alone by their cars in the show.

Most embarrassing: None yet.

2-11 – Most memorable:

Having Doc Bundy give me a one on one lead and follow session at the Barber race park track during the 29th Lotus Owners Gathering track day event.

Most humorous:

Seeing the look on the GT3 class Corvette owners face when he found out that the little orange car that had lapped him in a 15 minute track session was stock out of the box and cost less than half of what he had paid for his 600+ horsepower Vette. Especially, after it happened again on the next session.

Most embarrassing: thankfully, none yet.

Type 61: Most memorable:

The day I was able to complete a full race weekend without having the engine blow up, a major oil leak develop, or the loss of any part of the car while out on the track.

The same weekend which I was able to place 4th overall and 2nd in class with snow piled high on either side of the course and water running in small rivers across the course.

Most humorous:

In relation to above, waking up in the morning of the second day to see 10 inches of snow on what the weathermen had said would be a sunny and warm Saturday with clear skies overhead. The humorous part only came to light afterwards when looking back on the whole event.

Most embarrassing:

In a state of panic and rushing to get out to the grid because of a faulty starter circuit I almost charged out onto the course having forgotten to put on my helmet. Thank goodness for the grid marshall.

Have the cars competed in any events?

Esprit – Yes. SCCA auto-X and club track days.

Elise – Yes. Club track days.

2-11 – Yes. Club track days and practice sessions in preparation for the upcoming SCCA 2010 season.

Type 61 – Yes. Currently running in CVAR, (vintage racing organization, southwest region)

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Results?

Esprit- several first place wins in SCCA auto-X, street modified class.

During the club track days ran well enough to impress the current sponsors to provide the backing for current vintage racing efforts and a full dealership sponsorship for the 2-11 in the upcoming SCCA schedule.

Elise – fun events only

2-11 – At a HPDE was able to lap almost the entire field at least once within 15 minute sessions.

Real racing results to be determined starting in December of 2009.

Type 61 – Several top five finishes. Could have been more if the engine had managed to stay together. Malfunctioning oil pump caused engine to blow three times.

What is your favorite place to drive each car?

Esprit – Any open road.

Elise – Any open road.

2-11 – Any track.

Type 61 – Hallett Racepark, Hallett, Oklahoma

What is your ideal day with the cars?

Applicable to all:

A day with no problems mechanical or otherwise.

Who gets to drive them?

Esprit – Wife and I

Elise – Wife and I (if and when she lets me)

2-11 – Mostly me

Type 61 – Me only

If each car had a motto, what would it be?

Esprit – Enjoy the ride.

Elise – Ditto

2-11 – None yet

Type 61 – Never say die!

What was your previous project?

Turning my wife’s 2000 Ducati Monster M900 motorcycle in to a top ten finisher in the U.S. Ducati Monster Challenge. A factory sponsored contest which looked for the best custom bike built by a private individual.

Finished first place in Texas in 2004 and 2005.

Finished 3rd place in best in country for 2004

Finished in top 10 in country for 2005.

What is your next project?

With 4 Lotus and two Ducati in the garage and a mile long list of home repair and improvement honey-dos I do not foresee any “next projects”, for quite some time thank you.

What one word best describes each car?

Esprit – timeless

Elise – cute

2-11 – FUN

Type 61 – vintage

Other info you’d like to share?

Much like with the Lotus I tend to stay with one brand or marque for some time.

From 1972 until 1990 I’ve owned at least one model Triumph or another. First came a 1962 Triumph TR-3B, then a TR-6, and finally a triumph Stag. My racing adventure started with the TR-3, racing at various north east venues in what then was known as E-production time trials.

From 1984 to 1992 I drove Mazda Rx-7’s.

Owner Information:

Name – Al R. Brussich

City/State/Country – Houston, Texas, U.S.A.

E-mail – al.brussich@sbcglobal.net

Occupation – Sr. Electrical Designer, Jacobs Engineering Group

Club Affiliations – Lotus Owners of South Texas (L.O.S.T.), Lotus Ltd., Corinthian Vinatge Auto Racing (CVAR), Club Lotus (U.K.)

Want your Lotus featured on Lotus Enthusiast? Have an interesting road trip or fun story to share? Send the completed form with photos to info@LotusEnthusiast.net

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  • OneDedicatedDriver

    Now all you need is an Evora and Elan!

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