The silence was deafening at the Buttonwillow raceway in central California this past weekend as Mountain Pass Performance (MPP) headed off to the raceway to support customer and longtime racer Cameron Rogers in his assault on the track in his brand spanking new Tesla Model 3 Performance.
The track was indeed attacked at the Global Time Attack event, with the Tesla Model 3 taking the fastest time in its class, only to be disqualified (DQ) for being electric. The Model 3 had been hastily modified with MPP’s improvements, but that wasn’t what did the team in. After destroying the heavily modified petrol-powered competition with a 1:59.1 time, the honor of pegging the fastest time on the track was stripped for another reason.
Cameron noted that the Model 3 was the first electric car in a Global Time Attack event and that the organizers were actually excited about having a Tesla in the event, but they clearly weren’t prepared to let it actually compete. Ironically, hybrids are allowed in the competition and they use both gasoline and electrons, so the organizers were clearly grasping at straws to find a reason to disqualify the electric car from the race.
The protesting party was the racer who earned second place, making the protest a completely biased objection that came after the car was accepted into the competition, after several rounds of competition, and after the award was actually made. The world of racing is being turned on its head as decades of petroleum-powered racing tech is being put to shame by this new breed of electric race cars.
Though it may not have taken the top podium position, the Tesla Model 3 still gets to go home knowing that it did indeed post the fastest time in its class in the official Global Time Attack competition in Buttonwillow. Many eyes were opened as to just how competitive an off-the-shelf Tesla Model 3 Performance with Track Mode and a handful of Mountain Pass Performance’s modifications is against heavily modified gasoline powered race cars.
A Different Track Experience
Even before the event started, things were off to a bumpy start, with some of the components being lost in transit thanks to a mixup by Air Canada. After some shuffling, the parts finally showed up just hours before the event and were installed and calibrated trackside in time for the first practice session at 8:30 am.
While working through that kerfuffle, a nice bonus came through over the air, as Tesla’s Track Mode was pushed to the car the night before the event. That wasn’t planned, expected, or even on the radar, but it was a game changer for the racers. They found that the active cooling that comes with Track Mode stretched the functional track time of the car from really only being able to run one solid lap to the capability to run multiple laps without the need for much more than a brief cool down.
With a full installation of MPP tech and Track Mode, the team took to the race track, where owner Cameron Rogers took his years of racing experience and rapidly translated it to the world of electric vehicles. Racing an electric vehicle is a very different experience, as racers no longer have the engine noise and the gearing of the vehicle to contend with while driving. Instead, the interior of the vehicle is much quieter, with only the speedometer and the occasional chirp of the tires to indicate how well the vehicle is able to cling to the track.
Cameron noted that the change allowed for a much more nuanced experience and that driving his Model 3 Performance on the track was forcing him to learn to be a better driver. It turns out that engine noise doesn’t add value and that it actually just hides a lot of the other signals coming from the car. Being able to pinpoint what the car is saying and where it’s saying it from makes it easier to push it to the limits. Having said that, it does take some getting used to.
The stellar show put on by Cameron and his Tesla Model 3 Performance tuned by Mountain Pass Performance in Buttonwillow shows that the world of racing has some tuning of its own that needs to happen as electric vehicles that are increasingly competitive with internal combustion vehicles start hitting the race track.
What’s exciting is that this is just the beginning. Sasha and his team installed new carbon fiber trunk and lip spoilers that Cameron had sourced from a carbon fiber fabricator, but they didn’t get enough time to play with them and have so much more in the works. For sure, there is much more room for electric cars to grow into in the world of racing.
At Buttonwillow, downforce becomes a much more important factor on its larger track and the higher top speeds it allows. They found that the prototypes they used made a massive difference and are planning to source these for their customers in the near future. Keep an eye out for these at the Mountain Pass Performance store.
The days of having to wear hearing protection at the track are officially numbered, as Sasha continues to show just how dominant electric vehicles are when tuned properly. It’s a beautiful thing. As Mountain Pass Performance noted in its blog post about the event, “This is the future my friends. Embrace it.” Either that, or just get used to taking second, third, or fourth place without getting your feathers ruffled and having to cry about it.
All images courtesy Mountain Pass Performance