Published on July 7th, 2018 | by Kyle Field0
Mountain Pass Performance Uncorks Tesla Model 3 Performance & Takes To The Track (#CleanTechnica Exclusive)
July 7th, 2018 by Kyle Field
Sasha Anis is at his core a racer. He has taken hundreds of internal combustion racers onto the track, building a tuner business on the premise that there are always improvements to be made in technology. Sasha opened up to CleanTechnica about his passion for racing and how it led him to open his EV tuner shop, Mountain Pass Performance.
In recent years, his passion for racing came into conflict with a newfound imperative to take action to make his life and business more sustainable. That was a tough pill to swallow for a racer who cut his teeth on designing and building vehicles that were adept at burning through tires and gulping down fuel, no matter the cost.
Over the last two years, their increased awareness of the changing climate has caused Sasha and his wife to turned over a new leaf, installing a 30kW photovoltaic solar array onto the roof of their business and a residential geothermal system. That gets paired with an air source heat pump to heat their home and two plug-in vehicles to get around in. One of those vehicles is a pearl white Tesla Model 3 — which they have nicknamed “the Future.” For some reason, he believed that this car held significant promise on the track. “The Model 3 is the first [production] electric car that’s exciting that I wanted to drive on a racetrack,” Sasha shared.
Sasha initially tested the waters with electric vehicles with a full electric conversion of a Lotus Evora, thanks to a set of components from a Model S. The performance he was able to squeeze out of the vehicle prodded him to dive head first into electric vehicles, and into the Model 3.
The instant torque and power of even the rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model 3 inspired Sasha to crack it open to see if he could make it a bit more track friendly. Within a few days of getting the car, he had whipped up a pair of coil-overs and a new suspension kit that, when taken onto the track, were enough for him to power his way into first place in his category, besting many tricked out internal combustion racers along the way.
Talking with Sasha about the win, his excitement overflowed through the phone, stating that,”people need to wake up and realize that electric cars are going to take over.” A toggle has clearly been flipped in his head, causing him to dive deeply into the completely new world of electric vehicles as he continues on his mission to unlock their full potential on the track.
Sasha and the Mountain Pass Performance team spent 10 days in California running a Model 3 through the paces and taking measurements for their parts before taking delivery of their own Model 3. When it finally showed up, they were ready with the new suspension mods to bolt on and headed off to the track. While blasting around the track, Sasha realized (while racing along to music from Sting) that the brakes on the Model 3 were one of the weaker links.
Upon returning home with the car, he immediately set to work on a big brake kit that has since been dubbed the Page Mill 365mm Big Brake Kit, in honor of a twisty downhill section of road where Sasha pushed the stock Model 3 brakes so hard that they faded so bad that he knew a set of brake upgrades was in order. As the name implies, the new rotors are 365mm in diameter — an impressive step up from the stock 320mm rotors. The new rotors also gain 1mm in girth. Their two-piece construction allows them to add all of this value while coming in at the same weight as the stock rotors.
Mountain Pass Performance is also taking on one of Tesla’s touted improvements in the vehicle by attempting to tackle Tesla’s stability control system, which has a tendency to cut power to the wheels when it detects slippage. Under normal conditions on the street, that’s great, as it dynamically ensures maximum traction, but on the track, it can be a hindrance as the vehicle gets pushed to its limits. To overcome this, MPP is developing a toggle switch that will allow track racers to flip a switch to axe the factory stability control system when it’s time to hit the track.
Sasha is well aware of how much he stands out at the track when he shows up with the Model 3 and an electrified Lotus Evora. They make quite a statement. Sasha shared that, “that’s one of the reasons I like racing — we’re showing up in front of people who’ve never cared about electric cars or solar.” Much like Leilani Münter in the ARCA race series, hitting the track in an electric Model 3 makes a statement. It’s even better when he’s able to put seasoned racers in heavily tuned cars in their place … as long as it’s behind him. “When we show up in an electric car and run the track in 2–3 seconds faster, that gets their attention,” he shared.
Sasha and the team at Mountain Pass Performance have by no means reached the end of the road with the Model 3. If anything, this is just the start of a much longer process that will take him on a journey into the known areas of track tuning, like brakes and suspension, while maybe also taking a crack at improving some of the EV-specific components, like the inverter, battery, and motor.
Cracking that nut is a big leap from where the team is today, as it will require that they effectively disconnect the car from Tesla’s servers and updates and load up their own software. All in good time. Until then, Sasha and the team at Mountain Pass Performance are having a blast eking out as much performance and capability from the Model 3 as possible, with an eye always looking down the road.
His dream? To get a dead Model 3 from Tesla that he can strip down and use to build up the ultimate Model 3 racer. But even that, it turns out, is still in the front half of the book, as Sasha is also looking out for the next electric vehicle to tear down and Frankenstein. This gets all the more exciting and the potential grows as more and more enthusiasts begin looking at electric vehicles as more than just economobiles. “As more cars come out that are more sport, we’ll make parts for them, too,” he shared with a smile.