Alton Towers 2003
20th September 2003
by Robin Williams (Evil Dr Fish)
Saturday 20th September was set as the date for a much talked about mass LEW / Yahoo UKLotusEsprit excursion to Alton Towers. Newport Pagnell Services were chosen for the main meet at a suitably antisocial time of 6am! Once everyone had arrived - which included John Day missing the services and making a 20 mile detour to get back and the organiser cutting it to the last minute to arrive (and bumping the door of the beautiful V8 they had just parked next to - met with cheers, jeers and general hilarity!)
We all set off in convoy and obeyed the local traffic laws to the letter....
One of our number peeled off part way to go and test drive an Ultima enroute. Another feature of the journey up was when the two gents driving the rather nice silk red V8 decided to do a quick driver change on the hard shoulder. Those of us following them simply saw them pull up in a hurry and both pile out of the car! We all slammed on our brakes in panic, fearing they had an engine bay fire! Luckily we were all soon on our way again laughing at ourselves.
We arrived at Alton Towers for about 8:30 having somehow made record time (No idea how!) We headed to the VIP parking area and raised a few eyebrows of the staff as a half a dozen Lotus Esprits all arrived together. While we waited for one or two others who were coming from other parts of the UK to arrive we were treated to a display of 'novelty' driving by Adam J. the Elise driver who had come along. This included high speed doughnuts and seeing just exactly how fast he could drive in circles around a tree in one corner of the private car park.
We had all parked up in a row, facing the main entrance and the Monorail carrying the other guests from the normal car park. We should have charged Alton Towers for the privilege of having us in their car park! We all found it hilarious watching the punters standing, noses pressed to the windows of the Monorail train as they came by trying to look at all these supercars lined up together!
The piece de resistance was when Mike Sekinger arrived in his "Project GT1 Esprit" which started life as a Sport 350 and had evolved into a true Esprit behemoth pumping out well over 400bhp! Flared wheel arches housed a menacing set of black alloys. The interior had been stripped down and Carbon Fibre was making an appearance all over the place! There was an air intake in the roof to get better ventilation into the engine bay. The rear wing tilted out of the way to open the engine bay where we were greeted by a chromed V8 engine with twin chargecoolers, blow off valves and more modifications than any one of us could recall!
Using the excuse of a 'photoshoot' we kicked out any 'ordinary' car driver who dared to park next to us!
The theme park itself was huge fun and it was agreed by all that we couldn't have asked to spend the day with a nicer, more open group of people. Most rides were tried at least once and the vertical drop "Oblivion" seemed to make the greatest impression - not least because it decided to break down for 15 minutes leaving a carriage full of very nervous passengers right at the top, staring into the black hole and at the sarcastic "Don't Look Down" sign that awaited them at the bottom! Once stomachs had settled, one or two of us tried to single handedly eat everything in sight! (You know who you are!) ;-) At one point Adam Elise decided that queuing had all become too much to bear and climbed the fence and fell asleep in full view of everyone who was still waiting!
As one or two had needed to leave early those who still remained all met up at the end of the day and we got Alex R's report of the Ultima (It was amazing! 0-100 in under 7 seconds!!!)
The journey home was a story of contrasts... It started out with utter frustration as we were all stuck behind some very slow moving traffic, spoiling all those lovely back roads! Once we hit some dual carriageway however it was a very different story and the Esprits were opened up and allowed to do what it is they do best!
We all roared into a petrol station and definitely caused one hell of a stir among the customers and staff. Straight after there was a set of traffic lights which caught four of us in front of a crowd of teenagers all cheering and yelling at the cars. So not wanting to disappoint, they were treated to an F1 style line up of four Esprits in two lanes waiting for the green light! The lights changed and clutches were dropped and everyone screamed off... much to his embarrassment John was treated to the great Lotus "Gearbox Equaliser" - that feature that brings us all back to earth - Cerrrrunch!!!
Then there were the two girls in the Escort cabriolet! ;) We got a rather blurry photo as we pulled alongside them but not of the *real* 'moment' which was with the girls car sandwiched in the middle lane with Adam G's S4s on their outside and Alex R's S350 on their inside, followed by three more Esprits behind at 100 miles an hour! Alex ROARED off in a display of Lotus superiority, however Adam G. decided the temptation was too great and broke convoy to follow them into a service station. It turns out they were girl racers meeting for Da Cruise (innit!) The driver said she has had 48 points on her license and just to top it all off, she had a Ferrari centre cap on her Escort's steering wheel! :-s We looked around at all the bodykitted miscellany and beat a hasty retreat and blasted off to catch everybody back up!
Adam G. was quite chuffed when we met everyone else again at Newport Pagnell, having taken a diversion of around 10 mins, yet he was less than a minute behind everyone else. Having said that, his tyres never forgave him!
An utterly superb day was had by all and once we finally and reluctantly parted company we were already planning... "Where Next?!"
Photo Credits: Adam Gumbiner, Mike Sekinger and many from Steve Wrights' page www.unity1.co.uk/Lotus