Even though the real Team Lotus — you know, Chapman’s actual outfit — disbanded in 1994, the name stayed on in racing’s top tier until 2015.
Sadly in recent times, more often than not the team wasn’t all that successful, and sometimes they were busy not being successful elsewhere too.
In 2012 Lotus entered former Ferrari and Benetton F1 driver Jean Alesi into the Indy 500, the Frenchman then late into his Forties and the oldest rookie on the grid at the legendary 2.5-mile long super speedway.
Too slow in the wake of Honda- and Chevrolet-powered cars, the Lotuses struggled so badly at the Brickyard, both cars entered (the other Lotus was driven by Simona de Silvestro) qualified right at the back of the grid with the ‘rookie’ dead last and nearly 30kph off the pace.
For the British team from Hethel things couldn’t be bleaker — Lotus was the first marque to win the Indy 500 with a mid-engined car back in the Sixties, and now they were barely making up the numbers.
In the race Alesi ran around so slowly the officials actually had to black-flag him on lap nine (out of 200…) and pull him off the track for being a mobile chicane. The next lap they called de Silvestro in too. Lotus abandoned Indianapolis and hasn’t returned since.