Lotus Esprit GT2
Lotus Owners Oftha North
After the X180R/ World Challenge Cup race series ended in the USA, Cates-Bundy racing picked up an Esprit GT2 and campaigned it for another year. When the series came to Minneapolis, our local club (the Lotus Owners Oftha North) arranged to spend an afternoon in the paddock with the team and dinner afterwards.
In the paddock, they were very accommodating about making the car available for inspection. Cates, Bundy and the mechanics were all there to answer questions and tell stories. Doc Bundy is a big, colorful story teller, and that part continued over dinner and into the evening. Doc's girlfriend whispered his real name to one of the LOON's but swore him to secrecy. So far, Glenn hasn't revealed it.
At one point they basically gave us the car to pour over. We couldn't get in it, but we could open anything, look at anything, take pictures... right up until Dan Curry noticed something interesting in the engine bay and asked a probing question. The mechanics' faces all went slack in unison, closed up the car and put it in the trailer... end of tech session. Everything remained friendly and they still joked and had fun with us, but we'd obviously touched a nerve.
Although the close inspection was over, we got to hang around and watch them set the car up for the race. Tweek, practice, tweek, practice, tweek, qualify... right up to the time when Doc hobbled with a big limp toward the marshalling line for the start of the race. I asked why he was limping. He grinned sheepishly, said he'd gotten pissed when something went wrong and kicked a tool box. He drove the race with a freshly broken toe on his right foot. No meds.
The car was based on a body tub that "looked" production, but it sure looked thinner that I recall being stock. Doors and hatches were tissue paper thin and wobbly when open. It had a full ground effects belly pan designed by Team Lotus personnel and wind tunnel tested. They had to raise the ride height for the street race... some of the pavement wasn't smooth enough to allow for the optimally low height the ground effects liked. But it still worked and you could see the car suck down as it picked up speed on the straight. Buy about the halfway point on the straight, the car was starting to scrape on the pavement.
The stock-looking chassis was in there, but integrated into a cage that added structure. The firewall was fabricated and all internal panels aft of the bulkhead were race-fabbed. Huge rubber on centerlock wheels (one large retaining nut like most modern race cars). The engine was still 2.2 liters, and was running about 440 Hp in race trim. They were working on a 2.4 liter version and hoped to have it ready for the race at Road America (Elkhart Lake) in a few weeks. I never heard if they ever raced it.
The Esprit was impressive in the race and traded places with the Panoz LMP coupe (Batmobile) and Mosler Conselier (sp ?). Late in the race, Doc was in second behind the Mosler. He was charging and reeling the Mosler in when his tires started going off. The Esprit had the pace to overtake the Mosler, but he had fried the tires and had to back off to preserve the rubber for a final sprint. In the closing laps he picked up the pace again and was closing on the Mosler very well when the tires started fading once more. He couldn't make one corner and had to take the escape road. There were only a couple of laps left, so by the time he got back on course there wasn't enough time (or tires) to catch the Mosler again. Doc finished second, but it was an exciting run.
My son got one of the rear race tires and Doc autographed it. It was supposed to be the base for a coffee table, but so far it's just hanging in the garage.
Read a review/roadtest on the GT2 below
Esprit S4s vs Esprit GT2
AutoCar Road test August 1995
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