Summit Racing Tesla 3 Performance - First Autocross Test and Tune

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SummitRacing

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Before we get to the Autocross recap, here’s our latest in-shop update...

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We’ve started to baseline and document the car’s performance. We also put a few of our hardcore gearheads in the driver’s seat and it’s funny to see their reactions. Many skipped the gas-hybrid (Prius) experience entirely and went straight to 340 Kilowatts of Dual Motor POWER under their right foot as their first EV experience! Driving that first block with only the sound of gravel under the tires is the first thing people notice. Then (of course) we whack the throttle like 10-year-olds and bounce the passenger’s head off the head rest. Good times. It was likened to a silent big block under the hood.

Onto our first trip to Autocross...
The Akron Sports Car Club had their first Autocross test and tune last weekend, and we jumped at the chance to run the Tesla, even in Ohio spring weather. Our primary goal was to get a feel for the car and determine how many runs we could get in. It was windy, raining and in the low 40s when we arrived at 9 am. The course is at the Dragway 42 Drag Strip (near West Salem, OH), on side-access roads and it is fairly highspeed.

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And there’s mud…lots and lots of it if you go off course. Going off track backwards at 70 mph isn’t as bad as having to clean the car up afterwards. Removing underside aero-panels to clean off mud is no fun.
We had two drivers, Al Noe (Summit Racing’s Chief Marketing Officer) and Brian Nutter (Summit Racing Product Development). Both are experienced autocrossers who also do a few track and drag days every year. Al also brought out his “NEW BLUE” Z51-equipped C8 Corvette for comparison. We arrived with 206 miles of range and decided we could run it down to 100 before heading home.

We initially set the car in track mode custom settings and dropped air pressure in the stock Continentals from 41 to 35 psi. Torque split started at 30/70 and ended up at 45/55 on the slick surface. The initial runs were all done with 100% Regen and we dialed that out by the end of the day.

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The starting line leads to a hard left followed by a 150-foot chute into a slalom. Most cars couldn’t apply much power here due to puddles and cold tires. Not so with the Tesla! Steer left. Full Throttle. GO! The car slid out evenly, necessitating a quick dip of the throttle to get the car squared toward the left of the first slalom cone. This enabled the largest radius into a right bend at the end of the slalom. This was followed up by a 100 foot to a left and 100 feet to right followed by another 90 degree right on a short shoot. The car was picking up a lot of speed (70+) and the road is wide, so we let the car push to the outside before apexing a right-hand cone followed by a quick left. This is entirely too easy to mess up by going in hot…which we did.

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The Tesla’s brakes at 100% Regen go hard and the car did not stop as it should. Best runs were accomplished with Regen turned off. The conventional brakes get hot quickly due to the weight but at least they’re consistent and have feel. First area of improvement? Brake Pads! And as long as we’re making a wish list, bigger brakes. There was another slalom that bends right, but cone spacing was equal (not always the case with diabolical course designers). Near the end was a fast 70-degree left for 100 feet followed by an 80-degree right into a wide straight toward the finish-line beam. The car was hitting 70+ through the finish beams.

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So how did the car do? Range: We were able to get in about 10 runs between both drivers. Mileage dropped from 205 to 101, so roughly 10 miles of range were used up per run. We would have loved more. As you can see, weren’t afraid of W.O.T.!
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Driving Impressions: It handled fairly well, and the linear power was helpful. It was wet and there was mud on the track from people having “offs”. If we gave it a bad input mid-apex, it would lose the back end and slide. The car would seemingly stop and gather itself up before rocketing to the next corner. This was not surprising given the rearward weight bias and a 235 “square” tire setup on all four corners. The tires are average but rolling over on the sidewall a bit. As we mentioned earlier, brake pads and eventually bigger brakes will be a big help. As we test these performance parts, we’ll pass our findings on to you here on T.O.O.

The competition: It was just a test and tune, but we were able to see how other cars were faring. There was the usual mix of Miatas, S2000s, 5th 6th Gen Camaros, a couple mid 60s Mustangs, and a few C5 and C6 Corvettes. Loved the green Dodge D-100 truck!

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We got a lot of interest in the Tesla. It made going fast look a little too easy. No noise, not a lot of drama. Although it’s not our goal, it will probably hurt some feelings when we run it in the Super Street class. More than one person said, “well…. I guess that’s the future.”

Results: The University of Akron’s Formula SAE cars were running in the high 50s in the rain. In the earlier part of the morning, well-driven rear wheel drive cars were dropping into the 68/69 second range. There was a well-driven STI with autoX setup that dropped into the high 60.xxx range. A lowered Taurus SHO was also able to put power down and was running in the high 64 second range. Al’s C8 hit sub 62 seconds, and while fun to drive, the C8 in wet conditions with the Supercar 3 tires, was a bit sketchy, but in a good way! The C8 is a really fun car and does make all the right noises, for sure! Both Al and Brian logged 60.3s but high winds were causing problems with the timing equipment. The last run of the day was around noon and it was warming up although the track was still damp, and the car dropped into the high 59 second range. The Tesla was amazingly quick in the morning rain and damp conditions before we left; it is surprising how well the car puts power down even in less than optimal conditions. We told a few folks “It is really point and shoot”. From corner to corner the Tesla is a silent bullet! Our friend Eric Heller, President of the Akron Sports Car Club, drove his C5 Z06 to a mid-55 second run later in the dry, and other competitors were also notably quicker as things began to dry out. So no FTD for our Tesla….Yet!

Summary: Our first outing went well and we arrived at home base with 25 miles of range left. We found quite a few areas of improvement and are eager to share our findings with you. We have several events planned in April with a BIG treat at the end of April, so we are preparing for that. As we make our modifications, we’ll film them as “how to” and installation videos.

Again, we’re excited to embark on this journey with you. We’ll keep you posted!
 

SummitRacing

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We run with the Akron Sport Car Club which goes by SCCA rules. As you know, the SCCA classed the car in Super Stock...which is nearly zero mods except some 200TW tires. We're installing parts next week after our first official event that puts us into A-Street Prepared (Limited Prep). It would be fun if they ever put it into a Street Touring class...but frankly the car would dominate and they didn't have a choice except to throw the M3P in with dedicated Auto-X cars. At least this frees us up to do what we want with the car. And yes BRAKES are HIGH on the list. We should be able to share an update with you on that next week after we run this coming Sunday. Thank you for your interest!
 

michigantesla

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Great report and amazed that Summit has an M3P. I have bought many parts from Summit for my 69 Charger and other Performance ICE cars. I sold the Charger after I got my M3P. Looking forward to some goodies from Summit as they are usually reasonably priced! Please remember to keep the weight no higher than stock weight for any component (if you want me to buy anyway). I am sure buyer for parts that are better and LIGHTER.
 

SummitRacing

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Tallmadge, Ohio - USA
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Great report and amazed that Summit has an M3P. I have bought many parts from Summit for my 69 Charger and other Performance ICE cars. I sold the Charger after I got my M3P. Looking forward to some goodies from Summit as they are usually reasonably priced! Please remember to keep the weight no higher than stock weight for any component (if you want me to buy anyway). I am sure buyer for parts that are better and LIGHTER.
It is kind of funny because people assume our facilities are powered by Nitro-methane :) We are all about Light-weighting, Aero and Tech. We recognize folks want the best for their cars and our goal is to bring those parts to you at a reasonable price. We're already in talks with many vendors to fast-track new offerings.
 
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SummitRacing

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@SummitRacing Once you get some more time "under you belt" so to speak with the Tesla on the track we need to have you on our podcast to talk about your experience with the Tesla and how you see the future of EVs
We are a pretty sizeable organization and in existence for over 50 years. We have an amazing number of folks here (30 years +) who have been through many automotive market evolutions and revolutions first hand.

One poignant remark this week was a comparison to 1984. Factory cars were transitioning from Carbs to Injection and it wasn't programmable at that point. The concept of computers running our engines was even more foreign. People did fret for a while, but look at where we are now! This is simply another step in the evolutionary process and we want to be a big part of that. And yes, we would love to join you in a Podcast! We've read some very insightful comments from the members here and look forward to the relationship.
 

Needsdecaf

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We are a pretty sizeable organization and in existence for over 50 years. We have an amazing number of folks here (30 years +) who have been through many automotive market evolutions and revolutions first hand.

One poignant remark this week was a comparison to 1984. Factory cars were transitioning from Carbs to Injection and it wasn't programmable at that point. The concept of computers running our engines was even more foreign. People did fret for a while, but look at where we are now! This is simply another step in the evolutionary process and we want to be a big part of that. And yes, we would love to join you in a Podcast! We've read some very insightful comments from the members here and look forward to the relationship.

thank god for you GIF by TV 2 ZULU
 
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