We’ve covered how some of the products offered by the Tesla tuning firm Unplugged Performance can help just about anyone get ready to enjoy a fun day at the track with their Model 3, sure. But what if you’re not “just about anyone?” What if you’re less about fun, and more about “peak” performance and posting a competitive time? Or, should I say “Pobst-ing” a good time?
That’s right, gang, Unplugged Performance’s Ben Shaffer is taking a Tesla Model 3 to the famous Pike’s Peak International Hillclimb, and they’ve got professional hot-lapper Randy Pobst behind the wheel!
At the front, the Pike’s Peak Model 3 is distinguished from its more pedestrian brethren by an ultra lightweight carbon fiber version of the company’s high-efficiency aerodynamic body kit. Lightweight carbon fenders and swoopy side skirts also feature heavily in the car’s distinctive look, along with some high-contrast UP graphics. The whole car is lowered into an aggressive, sporty stance over lightweight 1-piece racing wheels, while a high-mounted, high-downforce wing makes another serious statement of intent at the back.
The message of seriousness continues inside the Model 3, where anything and everything that doesn’t directly contribute to the safety or speed of the Tesla has been jettisoned. Replaced, here and there, with chassis braces, roll cages, and supportive racing seats. Thousands of dollars in parts, tossed aside and casually sacrificed to the racing gods — it just doesn’t get any better than that, does it?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that we’d reached Peak awesomeness (Get it!?) with the spoiler and the road diet, but you’d be wrong. Pop the hood, and feast your eyes …
… now, it’s not totally clear what we’re looking at here — that’s by design — but there’s enough there to tell you that this Tesla has a serious Serious SERIOUS cooling rig mounted in the frunk. Will it be enough to keep the batteries cool and the electrons
pumping flowing into the motors quickly enough to launch this lightweight sedan into the Colorado clouds at record speeds?
All on its own, probably not, but consider the following: as Pike’s Peak competitors climb the mountain, the air gets thinner, the oxygen gets rarer, and the internal combustion engines that need that oxygen to burn their gas start to lose power. Electric cars don’t have that problem, which helps to explain why battery power has been the killer app at the Peak for the last several years already … and that was before they got Randy Pobst involved!
So, full disclosure: I’ve known Ben Shaffer for nearly two decades. Randy Pobst and I have met several times, as well. I genuinely like Ben, and I respect the heck out of Randy, too — even if he did always spend more time talking to Tommy Kendall and Warren Mosler than he did to me (totally understandable, Randy). That may be enough to make me biased here, I’ll admit. I want to see Ben and Randy succeed. I want to see this Tesla Model 3 become the fastest 4-door electric car ever to make its way up the mountain. Hell, I want to drive it up the mountain myself!
None of that should matter to you, though. Not a bit. Because you should want those things, too, because EVs are awesome, Teslas are awesome, and this is the Tesla that’s going to be flying the EV flag at the next Race to the Clouds.
That’s just like, my opinion, though — whats yours? Do you think this Model S, with its upgraded cooling, serious weight reduction regime, functional aero package, and hot shoe driver the one to start making other tuners look at Tesla seriously, or is this just a PR play for Unplugged Performance to sell more wheels? (And, if so, is that really such a bad thing, anyway?)
Take a look at these photos from Ben and Randy’s most recent day at the Pike’s Peak International Hillclimb course below — as well as a video from Randy Pobst where he and Ben talk through the project — and then let us know what you think of the Unplugged Performance Model 3 in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Unplugged Performance | Pike’s Peak Gallery
All photos by Unplugged Performance; video by Randy Pobst.