For car buffs one of the more interesting aspects of Google Maps has been checking out the high resolution satellite imagery of race tracks and manufacturer test tracks around the world. Aside from the engineers who work at those facilities and selected outsiders like the media, the proving grounds are typically tightly guarded places and regular people can't just wander in.

Ever since Google augmented maps with the street view function several years ago, users have have been exploring and finding all kinds of neat places they've never visited or sometimes just checking out their own neighborhoods to see if they got caught on camera. Recently Lotus invited one of the street view camera cars inside its headquarters at Hethel near Norwich in south east England.

The results are now visible on Google maps when you go to the home on Lotus on Potash Ln and start zooming in. When you zoom all the way down, you can take a virtual drive through the front gate, past the factory and engineering buildings and right out onto the track. The street view car circulates the track with a Lotus Evora, a 2-eleven and a methanol fuel experimental Exige 265e. You can get directly to Lotus via http://3.ly/LotusCarFactoryGoogleStreetView

[Source: Lotus]


press release

The iconic British sports car manufacturer opens its doors for an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the site and a virtual drive around the famous Lotus Test Track.

Lotus invited Google to record a testing session of selected Lotus cars and to give fans of the legendary British sports car brand a chance to look around normally hidden areas of the Lotus Headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk. On the Lotus test track, sharp eyed Street View users will spot the Lotus 2-Eleven being driven quickly and enthusiastically (just as it is intended to be!), a research and development Lotus Exige 265E which is fuelled by sustainable, environmentally friendly ethanol and a number of prototypes of the new Lotus Evora.
Nigel Marshall, Head of Facilities Management for Lotus said, "We decided to give Street View users an opportunity to look around part of the Lotus HQ and to virtually drive the Hethel Test Track. Only a select number of drivers have driven the Lotus circuit over the years, but now anyone can get a closer look at where some of the most iconic British sports and racing cars have been tested and developed. To see some dynamic track driving of the Lotus 2-Eleven just check out the North Hairpin!"
Matthew Prestopino, Google's Head of Street View Operations in Europe said, "Being invited to come and drive alongside some of the UK's coolest cars was a real treat. This is the first ever circuit in the UK to be photographed for Street View and car fans are going to love taking a virtual tour and locating their favourite Lotus cars in action on the track".
The Street View of the Lotus Headquarters can be viewed here:

http://3.ly/LotusCarFactoryGoogleStreetView

Users can access street-level imagery of the Lotus site by zooming into the lowest level on Google Maps, or by dragging the orange "Pegman" icon on the left-hand side of the map onto a blue highlighted road such as the Lotus test track.