The Élan NP01, an impressive and affordable prototype-style race car, took top honors at the 2018 Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge presented by Grassroots Motorsports, the competition held annually for the sole purpose of finding America’s fastest track car.
Braving wet and challenging conditions, driver Franklin Futrelle and his team dialed in the Élan NP01 for the conditions. With very limited track time they were able to lay down a 2.01.083 lap time on Virginia International Raceway’s 17-turn, 3.27-mile road course, just over four seconds quicker than the second-place finisher.
“We are thrilled to have the NP01 win our event this year,” said Tim Suddard, publisher, Grassroots Motorsports magazine. “It is such a proof of our Ultimate Track Car Challenge concept when a relatively affordable track car, in nearly stock condition, and that is available to anyone, can come out to one of the biggest and best tracks in America and flat out win an event like this overall!”
This was Élan Motorsports’ first Ultimate Track Car Challenge since it introduced the Élan NP01 race car in 2015 for use in the National Auto Sport Association’s (NASA) then-new NASA Prototype Series. Soon after, the company developed the Élan Super Touring 1 Competition Package – an engine, exhaust, aerodynamic and suspension upgrade package – to broaden the car’s appeal to NASA racers by making the already capable sprint racer eligible for NASA Super Touring 1 (ST1) class competition.
The Élan NP01 that won the 2018 Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge presented by Grassroots Motorsports featured the ST1 upgrades.
The Élan Super Touring 1 Competition Package includes the following:
- Updated, high-output 235-horsepower Mazda 2.0L MZR engine with high-compression pistons, performance camshafts, and an 8300-rpm limit.
- Tuned free-flow exhaust system designed specifically to work with the new rpm range.
- Engine intake ram-air extension for increased airbox pressure at speed.
- High downforce aero kit with a ramped front splitter with raised center section and a rear diffuser with strakes to direct airflow.
- A rear anti-roll bar, billet uprights, and endurance-spec rear lower wishbones.
The Élan Motorsports’ development team expected that the upgrades would significantly improve overall performance. In testing at Road Atlanta using the same driver, an Élan NP01 with the ST1 package posted a lap time of 1:26.27, compared to 1:31.07 for an NP01 in NASA Prototype Series trim.
Below is a quick overview of how the Élan NP01 race car’s ST1 Class configuration compares to its original NASA Prototype Series setup:
|ST1 Class||NP01 Series|
|Weight||1,450 lbs.||1,450 lbs.|
|Horsepower||235 horsepower||185 horsepower|
|Torque||165 lb./ft.||145 lb./ft.|
|Power-to-Weight Ratio||6.17 lbs./hp||7.84 lbs./hp|
|Road Atlanta Lap Time||1:26.27||1:31.07|
|Price – Kit*||$90,250||$76,125|
|Price – Assembled*||$101,250||$85,900|
|* The Élan NP01 includes all components necessary to assemble a running, drivable vehicle. Race-readiness requires further preparation. All prices exclude tax & shipping.|
From the start Élan Motorsports designed the Élan NP01 to be fast, reliable, easy to maintain, and as safe as possible thanks to the closed-cockpit design that helps provide added driver protection. Most hardware is standardized to simplify maintenance and repair and reduce costs. It also features bodywork made up of individual fenders, engine cover and front hood sections rather than complete all-in-one front and rear body components. For example, if bodywork is damaged, the owner can replace individual pieces instead of an entire front nose piece, making repairs easier and more cost effective.
It has proven itself through the NASA Prototype Series and in endurance competition at events such as the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Since its introduction, Élan Motorsports has built and sold over 30 Élan NP01 race cars.