One of my visions for the Model Y when we got it was to take it to lapping days, baby seat, and all. You know, maybe bruise some egos, wake up some people to the potential of electric vehicles in the process. Well on Sunday we had just about the perfect opportunity to fulfill that vision.
We’ve been working non-stop on the Y ever since we got it, I would say we’ve removed and re-installed the suspension seven or eight times since we got the car four weeks ago! The final step of the damper development was to take the car to the track, and that was planned for yesterday, Monday the 27th.
In preparation for the track event, we have equipped the Y with everything we could throw at it – our StopTech STR-60 big brake kit, Volk Racing TE-37 wheels, MPP front upper control arms, camber arms and toe arms, and an MPP lightweight battery. As with all of our development, we also had our MoTeC M150 vehicle logger in the car which we have been using for damper development – and it is also now going to be used for lap timing and general vehicle dynamics work. So we had the car ready for a shakedown on Monday…
But here’s the thing – there was a time attack event the day before at the same track on the 26th. We had the series mandated Pirelli Trofeo-R tire already, so why not just enter and do it for fun? The time attack series – CSCS, is home to some of the fastest time attack cars in North America, and many of the fastest cars in the series are regulars that have been racing here for many years as they upgrade their cars year after year in the hunt for more speed. The series has multiple classes for each drivetrain type – for All-Wheel-Drive, there is Production, Street, Super Street and Unlimited.
Unlimited consists of purpose-built time attack cars with extreme budgets, and production class is designed for cars with a few bolt-on upgrades but nothing more than that. A Golf R, the new Civic Type R, and Subaru STi are examples of cars that fit into Production. Street is very competitive and allows fairly heavy modifications and cars such as BMW M4, C5 Corvette, and Z4 M-Coupe. Super Street is pretty much open other than a few rules, but generally, it is dominated by purpose-built time attack cars that just do enough to stay out of Unlimited.
Now if you look at the descriptions above, it is clear that the Y should be in Production AWD. However, I am not allowed to compete in Production AWD as there is a clause in the rulebook that states that anyone that holds a lap record is no longer able to compete in Production, as it is a class designed to get people into the sport. We thought the Y would have a chance at winning in Street AWD, but we knew it would be tight.
Here’s the catch – there is a tire size limit in Street AWD of 265mm. The Model Y, being an SUV and all, needs a tall tire – and the only tire size the Trofeo R is available in that matches the OE diameter is 285 or 295. So we got the 285 (we also didn’t want to buy tires just to fit into a series!). The good news is the series allows exceptions to be made for cars that are equipped with tires larger than 265 – no problem right?
Wrong. We were put in Super Street AWD, with a 650+ horsepower 991 Porsche Turbo S, a 600hp AWD Converted Integra Time Attack car!
We considered not attending as it was pretty silly to go up against these kinds of cars, but since we needed to do some development testing anyways we decided to roll the dice.
Right out of the box the Y was blazing fast. I did a 1:17.9 on the first flying lap early in the morning, and without track mode, the vehicle stability and traction control were seriously limiting our ability to get pace from the car. A 1:17 was pretty crazy considering! And maybe the series did the right thing, as that time put us well ahead of both the fastest Street AWD and Production AWD cars! In fact, it put us right smack in the middle of a bunch of GT3RS Porsche’s!
Throughout the day we were able to work on the dampers, play with the alignment and most significantly – disable stability control while retaining ABS and power steering. The balance and feel of the car just kept getting better and better, and I thought a 1:16 might just be possible in the Time Attack – but we were in the middle of a heat-wave and the track was getting slower.
In the end, I ran two fairly clean and smooth laps, having to drive around the very conservatively tuned torque management system, which doesn’t allow full power unless you’re going fairly straight. The lap time was a 1:17.266 – 8th fastest overall and beaten only by three 991 GT3RS’, The 991 Turbo S, and three fully built racecars.
What cars did we beat? Well, a Porsche 991 911 GT3, an M3, Corvette, M2, M4, STi, Golf R, Civic Type R – just about all of these cars heavily modified, and everyone on the same Trofeo R tire. If we were in Production, we would have reset the lap record and won. And even If we were in street, we would have reset the lap record and won!
It was fun to beat up on some cars with a Model 3, but doing it with an SUV makes it that much more entertaining. The real highlight here and the point we stress to everyone is that this is all done with our street suspension – which is tuned to be softer and more road-oriented than our Model 3 Sports suspension! AND it was done without track mode! There is no doubt that with Track Mode – which allows us to put down power far more aggressively on corner exit – and suspension tuning focused on track performance, that we could get deep into the 16s with this car. That is genuinely ridiculously fast for Toronto Motorsports Park. I remember when my fully-built, endurance racecar 350z did a 1:15 on racing slicks! Heck our Tesla-swapped Lotus Evora only does 1:16’s on the same tires!
The moral of the story is that if you’re thinking about getting into a Tesla and you want to be able to have some fun and hit the track here and there, but you need the extra cargo space – don’t be afraid to get the Y. It’s not as sharp or nimble as the 3, but it does have a ton of raw pace and it’s absolutely hilarious to be out there in an SUV towering over sports cars, staying on their bumper lap after lap while they try to figure what they are seeing in their mirrors.
THE FUTURE. That’s what they are seeing. Check out the full video below which includes the time attack laps!