LOG Survival Guide

Welcome to the Lotus, Ltd. LOG Survival Guide.  Termed “Lotus Owner’s Gathering” this is our national event which is held yearly in various locations throughout the United States.  This event is a time for our members meet and celebrate the passion they have for the Lotus marque.  It incorporates a variety of functions ranging from a banquet dinner with guest speakers, a concourse, scenic drives, auto jumbles, tech work shops, a track day event, auto-crossing, and much more!

Composed  by Dean Giacopassi and friends

Each year, at Lotus, Ltd.’s Annual Lotus Owners Gathering, there are a great many activities for Lotus enthusiasts, and each seems to require its own special bit of preparation. This diversity makes it a challenge to plan and pack for a LOG. The following tips should make your meet experience more enjoyable.

Packing a Lotus for an extended trip is an art. My two major considerations are utilizing all available space and providing waterproof storage for my belongings. You can “cheat” by adding space (such as one individual I know who pulls a color-matched trailer with his Seven), but the waterproofing requires attention to detail. A complicating factor is that I always expect to bring more home than I left with. Nonetheless, I do have some packing tricks — most of which were acquired by watching others.

A useful strategy is to fit the big, non-compressible items in first. Followed with the smaller, more-squish able items. Use soft-sided luggage when possible. If you haven’t checked out how your luggage fits in your Lotus, check it now! This will give you time to ponder your packing strategy and, if necessary, purchase new luggage.

For clothing where wrinkles are not a factor, consider using heavy-duty plastic trash bags or zip-lock freezer bags in lieu of conventional luggage. You definitely will want the heavy-duty versions; a Lotus trunk has many small, sharp protrusions that can quickly puncture and tear the light-duty bags. Double-wrapping helps, too.

If you use luggage, but it isn’t weatherproof, pre-pack your clothes in two-gallon zip-lock freezer bags.

My full-face racing helmet rides at my elbow between the seats. I make it serve double duty by packing it with crushable items.

If you can manage it, bring a mailing tube. Posters are plentiful at a LOG, and this is the only way I know of to get them home in pristine condition.

Opinions are many and varied on what maintenance items to carry to a LOG. Much will depend on your ability and inclination to work on your car in an emergency situation. I have seen LOGers bring everything from a can of Fix-A-Flat and a credit card to shop manuals, a full set of electrical spares and enough tools to fill a roll-away. I tend to take a fairly minimalist approach; a small kit that will allow me to patch the car together when the going gets tough (i.e., change a flat or clean the plugs) is all I carry. In other words, I just want to be able to get the bugger going — if only in limp-home mode.

My tools:

  • volt meter (cheap and small)
  • multiple-bit screwdriver
  • adjustable wrenches (6­ & 10­)
  • vice grips (locking pliers)
  • needle nose pliers
  • wire cutters
  • forceps (surgical clamp)
  • file
  • dental mirror
  • pocket survival tool (e.g., Leatherman)
  • 1/2-in.-drive breaker bar and a socket sized for the wheel nuts (for bolt-on wheels)
  • 3/8-in.-drive socket set
  • propane-fueled lighter
  • sandpaper and emery cloth in assorted grits
  • oilier (precision instrument oilier, mostly for the generator)
  • car jack
  • wheel wrench or hammer (for knock-offs and safety-knock-offs)
  • torque wrench.

My spares kit:

  • spare tire
  • stainless steel lock wire (measured in ft., not lb.)
  • electrical wire (20+ feet of 12-gauge)
  • alligator clips (a few in assorted sizes)
  • duct tape (the good stuff)
  • electrical tape
  • 2-in.-wide masking tape (the long-duration silver stuff from 3M sells for $15 a roll and is worth every penny, it sticks great, doesn’t leave a residue after staying out in the sun for a month, and is available at boating supply houses)
  • wheel nut (for Lotus alloy wheels that take flat-end wheel nuts, it’s a good idea to carry two tapered wheel nuts to assist in lining up the wheel on the bolt pattern).

Associated stuff:

  • coveralls
  • tarpaulin/ground cover (helps you stay dry and find dropped parts)
  • waterless hand cleaner
  • a quart or two of motor oil (Mobil 1 can be difficult to find on the road).

Safety equipment:

  • safety glasses
  • fire extinguisher
  • first aid kit (to take care of minor maladies, such as headaches, diarrhea, scrapes and burns)
  • light stick (the 30-minute variety gives a cold, even light that is sufficiently bright for most emergency work)
  • flashlight
  • strobe (many chandlers — i.e., boating suppliers — sell a combination flashlight/strobe light)
  • wheel chocks.

The following items are good to have on hand:

  • lip balm, ear plugs (12 hours of a sport exhaust can be very tiring — the disposable type are cheap and effective)
  • travel mug (if you want a cup holder, buy a minivan)
  • towel(s) (car cleaner, pillow, ground cover, too many uses to ignore — every Lotus driver should have at least one in the car at all times)
  • camera (to record the good times, a bit from an original car, or yourself with a Lotus hero)
  • business cards, notepad, pen, highlighter and large-tip marker (making contacts and notes can be the most rewarding part of a LOG)
  • books and memorabilia (a LOG is a wonderful time to collect autographs)
  • sun screen and bug spray
  • wristwatch with alarm and stopwatch (you won’t want to miss a thing, and timing laps is interesting)
  • paperwork (insurance card, part suppliers, Lotus Ltd. roster, vehicle registration — and log your starting mileage if you have insurance coverage that is mileage-limited)
  • lots of money (vendors take credit cards, and checks can be useful, but the best deals are cash)
  • a cellular telephone and a GPS (if you’re a gadget person).

The trip to a LOG may be the longest drive of your car’s life. It may also be the only time in years that your Lotus has been used in adverse conditions and as daily transportation. While I am not a big fan of carrying spare parts, I do recommend taking some precautions before launching a highly strung sports car on a 1,000-mile journey. Give your car a good look-over with an eye toward extended travel, and try my 10% rule.

Dean’s 10% Rule: When pulling a Lotus out of storage or preparing for a long trip, put it through a shakedown test consisting of a series of drives, each approximately 10% of the mileage of the next anticipated drive. As an example, a 1,000-mile excursion to a LOG might involve a series of drives spaced over a week or so. The series of drives would go something like this: a quick trip around the block; several trips around the block totaling a mile or two; a 10-mile circuit of my favorite haunts; a 100-mile drive over hill and dale.

After each excursion, I strongly recommend a thorough check of the car and a cool down. Remember, one of the things that you are trying to accomplish by doing this is to run the car through a series of heat cycles. If you experience any problems, fix them and resume the test drives from the start. Some nay-sayers may assert that such an approach will guarantee that you never go anywhere, but this is not the case. The only LOG for which I required alternate (i.e., non-Lotus) transportation was the one where I didn’t have enough time to use the 10% rule.

In preparing for a series of LOGs, I have found a variety of things to be broken on my cars. The following list may be helpful in guiding your car preparation.

1967 Elan S3 HFC — distributor bearings (LOG 11); crumbled foam air filter (LOG 11); collapsed headlight bucket (LOG 11); generator (you have to oil the rear bearings) (LOG 12); brake light wiring & battery cable dislodged by luggage (12); burned out turn signal bulb (LOG 14); collapsed upper spring perches (LOG 14); radiator header tank crack (LOG 16): rear wheel bearings (LOG 17); internally broken wire at the electric cooling fan (LOG 17). 1991 M100 Elan SE — torn windshield wiper blades (luckily, I use Rain-X) (LOG 18).

I didn’t bother to mention the leaks and such; I always knew that they were there, and I haven’t discovered any new ones during a LOG. Also, surprisingly, some persistent problems have disappeared on long trips; I had a horribly leaky rear end seal fix itself for the duration of LOG 15.

Consider the trip to and from a LOG as an extension of your vacation. Prepare yourself and your car for the trip, and then have fun. Travel by secondary highway, enjoy the scenery, attack a corner, and then stop and smell the roses. Let’s face it: How often do you get to spend a good part of a day driving your Lotus? Use it as was intended.

For added fun — and added confidence, if you’re skittish about taking a long Lotus drive alone — consider participating in a caravan. Often, members of Lotus Ltd.’s local affiliate form contingents for the journey.

A LOG weekend is generally casual, although for some people it runs from semi-formal through racing suits to grease-monkey grunge. Picking the appropriate clothes is easy. The Saturday night awards banquet is mostly coat-and-tie (although casual attire is accepted), while all of the other indoor meals are casual. Dress for safety at the competitive driving events and weather-smart for the rest of the outdoor events.

Be prepared for hot and cold, rain and sun. Items that I have found valuable: wide-brimmed hat with keeper; dark sunglasses with keepers; long-sleeved shirt with collar; silk or light polypropylene long johns (the silk ones pack down into an incredibly small package); bandana; walking shoes (sneakers); single-use rain poncho.

Lotus-related paraphernalia is always appropriate. Many people seem to wear something with a Lotus logo on it at all times during the LOG weekend.

Read your registration packet and LOG book. Highlight the things that are important to you. Check the meet’s bulletin board for changes.

Bone up on Lotus and racing history. The arguments are usually way above my head, but it’s nice to have an idea of what’s going on.

Always wear your badge (an asterisk by the name indicates a first-time LOGers). Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. If you see a name tag or a Lotus logo on a person, you can be assured that he or she is there to live, breath and talk Lotus. At a restaurant, call your fellow Lotus enthusiast over to share your table.

A LOG is a big event, and assistance is often needed. Pitch in. Volunteer. Get involved.

Arrive early and leave late. Informal gatherings take place throughout the LOG weekend, including for lunch on Friday and during dinner after the track event.

A typical hang-out is the Lotus Corral parking. If you can’t find
anything happening anywhere else, there will usually be someone
hanging around the cars.

There is generally an informal breakfast group at the hotel’s restaurant and at least one nearby eatery. Ask around for the de facto hang-out. Usually, the LOG crowds tend to congregate at a few places within walking distance of the hotel.

The hotel bar typically gets closed down by a group of Lotus diehards.

When the LOG is all over, consider mailing stuff back. Mailing and shipping services have become much easier to find in the last few years.

Please see this year’s LOG page.

Pre-registration is the way to go. My wife and I sign up for just about everything; the only problem is deciding between conflicting events. A good rule of thumb is to do the things that you can’t do in your own backyard (e.g., I can autocross every month of the year, but I can’t talk to a factory engineer very often; at a LOG, I would choose to spend my time with the factory guy).

Note your check’s number on your registration form and make a photocopy of the whole shebang. Take the photocopy with you to check-in. It’s not necessary, but it can help smooth over any registration difficulties.

Opt for the meals; they are usually quite good. Eating with the group also frees up your time and keeps you in the mainstream of the event.

Order your LOG apparel early. There is usually a very limited supply of unreserved shirts available at the event. This stuff sells out early, and the post-LOG supplemental order (if there is one) takes a while to fulfill. Be assured that the LOG organizers do a good job of ensuring that everything is of good quality. I have never bemoaned the fact that I purchased LOG paraphernalia; however, I have bemoaned opting not to.

The seemingly simple task of on-site registration isn’t. Don’t do it if you can avoid it; pre-register if at all possible. On-site registration is made complicated by the number of attendees who follow this route and the numerous options available to LOGers. Save yourself time, money and aggravation by pre-registering.

Also note: Credit cards are NOT accepted for registration.

Check-in is quick and simple if you: have pre-registered; have your pre-registration package with you; go to the line corresponding to the first letter of your last name; don’t make any major changes to your pre-registration.

At registration, remember to also sign up for your Saturday banquet seating. There is usually a poster board showing the tables arranged, write your name(s) on the table you wish to sit at. This is a first-come first-serve sign up. There will be some reserved tables for special guests.

An important, if sometimes rushed, part of a LOG, the car wash lets you provide some TLC to your mount, usually either sometime during the day Friday or on Saturday morning. Although the LOG organizers generally provide the basics, well-prepared LOGers bring those little extras that can help make their cars stand out from the crowd: chamois, towel, detail wax, Squeegee, Armor-All and Rain-X.

The Friday night reception is generally the official kickoff of a LOG. A hungry, thirsty, enthusiastic crowd attacks heavy hors d’oeuvres. Small groups of friends gather. People mill around. Bring pictures of your latest Lotus escapade and mingle.

Tradition holds that a LOG consists of several non-driving, non-Concours contests. They provide recognition and an audience for the creativity of LOGers. They can also provoke some lively discussions throughout the weekend.

Every year has a slightly different mix of contests and events. To determine the categories for the upcoming LOG, check the pre-LOG publicity or your pre-registration confirmation material. The most important point to remember is that you have to enter to win. There are usually contests for: Best Photo (people’s choice awards for Lotus-related photographs, based on artistic merit and subject matter, with separate categories for large and small photos); Best Model (people’s choice awards for Lotus scale models, usually with separate categories for large and small); Best Craft (people’s choice awards for non-model, Lotus-related handiworks, arts and crafts); Liars Essay (for those not bringing a Lotus, a contest consisting of an essay — true or not (the more outrageous, the better) — explaining why not; originality and humor count, and the winning essay is sometimes read at one of the dinner events); Hard Luck (an award given to the individual experiencing the greatest misfortune en route to the LOG; the usual procedure is to contact someone at registration to tell your tale of woe); Long Distance (awards given to those who travel the farthest to make it to a LOG; often, there are several categories, e.g., for trailered, early-model and late-model Lotuses).

There are several tech sessions conducted during a LOG weekend (usually during the day Friday and/or on Saturday morning), and they run from a half-hour to an hour in length. The sessions vary greatly in topic, quality and quantity, and occasionally more than one is scheduled at the same time, forcing you to choose.

Sometimes, the LOGers have a police escort to the Concours site, and sometimes we have to fend for ourselves, either in a caravan or individually. In a caravan, please be considerate of others in your driving manners. Most people relish the experience of traveling among a gaggle of Lotus cars, but many do not wish to travel at extra-legal speeds or run in close formation.

It is refreshing to be at a Concours event with knowledgeable Lotus people. Best of all, you will get to see some great cars and some cars with great potential, all at your leisure.

Once the cars are all on site and lined up, the first order of business is usually a panoramic group photo. This is known as both an extremely popular activity and a waste of time and resources. I guess it all depends on whether or not you like the photographs enough to purchase one. Two varieties are available: one with people and cars, and one with only the cars.

The Concours is typically a casual one decided by popular vote — not by white-gloved inspectors. All of the cars on hand are considered to be automatically entered. There are numerous classes, so your car can compete against cars of similar appearance and vintage. This can be your best opportunity to take home some hardware, and hardware from this event means a great deal.

To get your Lotus ready, start with a clean, well-detailed car. Bring a dust magnet, a little bottle of spray cleaner, some touch-up wax and a towel. (It seems that I have never been to a Concours that didn’t run everyone through a mud puddle or over a dusty dirt road to get to the site.) Clean out the junk from your car; at the very least, hide it away. A sharp-looking container with a Lotus logo can’t but help you in the voting. A well-mounted fire extinguisher can also make the difference of a few votes.

Fill out the supplied placard with a large-tipped felt marker, and then put it in a place where people can readily read it. If you can concoct a good spiel ahead of time, you will be one-up on many of the contestants.

The Concours generally starts late Saturday morning and lasts much of the afternoon. Lunch is served on-site. Try to bring your own shade and seating, bug spray and sun screen. All of these items can be at a premium. Also, after the caterer and food vendors pack up and leave following lunch, be prepared to supply your own drinks and munchies.

In voting, you are dealing with a group of knowledgeable, passionate Lotus people. Think about your voting strategy. With one of the biggest congregations of Lotus cars in the North America, you will have ample opportunity to pick and choose. Vote your conscience.

During the Concours, vendors and individuals have plenty of things on sale. So much to see and purchase, and so little time and money. Spend some time meeting those distant telephone voices, flipping through the books that you have contemplated purchasing, and looking at the Lotus trinkets. If you’re expecting an extravaganza, however, you will be disappointed. There are just are not enough Lotus cars in the U.S. to support a large group of vendors. Luckily, the people who do sell Lotus parts tend to be committed to the cars.

This is an excellent time to check out aftermarket parts. As a bonus, some interesting prototype parts show up at this event.

A formal Auto Jumble (possibly a contradiction in terms) doesn’t take place at all LOGs, but some informal buying and selling of parts and paraphernalia always occur. Bring cash if you want a chance to take home the good stuff.

Usually done late Saturday afternoon, this is a once-a-year opportunity to meet the volunteer board members of Lotus, Ltd. face to face. The board members very much want to hear your suggestions, opinions and gripes. This takes so little time — an hour, at most — so stop by and help out the club by giving your views.

This is the weekend’s big, most formal meal, with sign in seating at registration. The Concours awards are handed out, special guests are recognized, and most attendees overeat. An honored speaker significantly associated with the Lotus Marque gives the after dinner address, and it is a rare person who doesn’t learn something new about the Marque from his presentation. It is often late in the evening before the Lotus crowd lets the speaker step down. Even then, the poor fellow often ends up continuing his stories in the hotel bar until the place closes down.

A word concerning appropriate dress for the banquet: For some, this event calls for semi-formal attire. For most, it’s coat and tie for the gentlemen and dresses for the ladies. And casual dress is certainly acceptable. However, my wife was mortified the year we both showed up in shorts for the awards banquet. Now that she has been forewarned, getting dressed up for the dinner is one of the highlights of her trip.

For me personally, the LOG isn’t the best place to try Autocrossing for the first time. Many others seem to be more confident of their driving ability. In any event, expect a half-day event. Most, but not all, of the cars will be Lotuses. The driving classes are set up to provide fair and equitable competition for everyone. Often, there are separate awards for novices.

Remember to stop in at a local gas station the night before this event to take care of your fuel requirements and set the air pressure in your tires. The autocross may be scheduled early enough that it is difficult to get these things done the morning of the event.

If you are a novice at autocross, take some time during the preceding day to search out an experienced driver, who can give you better car set-up and driving tips than I can.

Sometimes this event is simply a tour, other times it includes a gimmick-type rally. In all cases, the roads have been pre-driven to insure that they are suitable for a Lotus.

A navigator equipped with paper and pen is useful if you want to participate in the rally. Bring local and regional maps with you. Those and a GPS with mapping software can be an advantage in finding your way back to the hotel if you get lost or are running late.

This is usually the final official activity of the LOG and serves as a wrap-up. It is much less formal than the Saturday night banquet. Awards are handed out to the autocross winners. Interesting events of the LOG weekend are recapped, and many of the volunteers get thanked. Occasionally, there is an after dinner speaker. Plans are finalized among those who will be staying for the track event and those leaving for home.

If there is a track event associated with the LOG, it is always optional and usually takes place on the Monday following the LOG weekend. If you sign up for the track event, be sure to read the advance instructions. Follow them to the letter and keep within their spirit of safety. Get your car ready long before you ever leave for the LOG. I have seen people denied a turn around the track for items that would be simple to fix back home, but difficult to get done in a strange town at the last minute.

Typical problem areas: old brake and clutch fluid (in my book, old is greater than six months old); brake pads more that one-quarter worn; insecurely tied down battery; expired rubber donuts; worn suspension components (springs, shocks, ball joints and tie-rod ends).

For a Monday track event, there is usually a chalk talk session on Sunday night. This consists of a presentation of the track event’s rules and procedures. Often there is a short class in advanced driver techniques, including the specific challenges of the particular circuit that is about to be used. Sitting in on this class can be useful for anyone interested in high-performance driving.

Actual track time is usually preceded by a drivers meeting and a walk-around or drive-around with instructors. A last chance technical/safety inspection may (or may not) be available at the track.

The track event usually includes a lunch break.

At the end of the day, “rides and drives” are usually available, giving spectators a chance to catch a ride. Sometimes, hot laps in a passenger’s seat are made available in exchange for a donation to charity.

Be prepared for a very long day, and remember that track facilities (e.g., restrooms and food) are notoriously bad, expensive and often limited in availability. Items that you might not think to bring, yet can be useful, include ear plugs, a notepad and a stopwatch.