Following up on my first article about race car driver, battery innovator, and serial entrepreneur Blake Fuller getting a brand new Tesla Model S Plaid, tearing it apart in less than a day, and prepping it for the Mount Washington Hillclimb Auto Race this coming Sunday, this article covers some of the tinkering that was done the next day. Most notably, he took the steering wheel off of my Model 3 and the steering yoke off of the Model S Plaid, and then he swapped them. (A video of some of that is below.)
First of all, though, if you want to help Blake do the best he can do this Sunday, or you want to help get the car to future races, you can find two easy ways to contribute over on Electric Performance. (CleanTechnica and I get nothing out of this. I just think it’s a worthwhile project to support.) In short, you can get your name or decal on the car for a cost of $200. See the example squares on the back of this previous Tesla Model 3 race car:
Or you can contribute $20 and get the following bumper sticker:
It was critical to Blake that he get a normal steering wheel on the Model S Plaid for the race. He doesn’t consider the yoke to be safe for racing (or other things). You can see him talk about that a bit in the video in my previous article, and he will talk about it more in a future video in which he drives my Model 3 with the yoke on it. However, he wasn’t sure if you could just plop a normal Tesla Model 3 steering wheel on a Model S Plaid, so he wanted to take mine off and put it on the Model S Plaid to check.
It actually took 15 mins or so (maybe a bit more) to get the steering wheel off, but that was just because of one little quirk with how you pop the airbag off. It’s hard to explain, but the second “pop” of three pops you need to make to unlock the airbag and get it off has to be in a precise location and angle to work. If you do it right, it probably takes less than a minute to get the airbag and steering wheel off. However, being a bit off with the angle on that pop, it was an annoying wrestling match for well over 10 minutes, maybe more than 20. (Watching this video very closely is what got us to finally nail it.)
Anyway, we did eventually get both the steering wheel and yoke off, and then we swapped them and they both fit fine on the other car. (Blake and I then drove the Model 3 with the yoke on it, which is what my next article in this series will cover.)
However, some things didn’t work — the buttons on the yoke. The buttons on the steering wheel and yoke don’t cover all the same tasks, and there didn’t seem to be a way to make the buttons on the Model S’s yoke talk to the Model 3 — at least, no easy way. Pressing and scrolling with the buttons did nothing, while an error on the touchscreen said “Steering wheel scroll buttons and horn unavailable.” Trying a hard refresh by click the buttons in and holding them down for a few seconds also didn’t do anything. We didn’t do the same test on the Model S Plaid since it was fully turned off and unhooked, but it’s unlikely the steering wheel buttons would work. Toward the end of the above video, Blake notes why that is a sort of big deal (the car has to pass a basic tech check, which includes showing that the horn and windshield wipers work, which you have to do through the buttons on the Model S Plaid), but he also explains how they could potentially get around the normal controls and rig up some solutions before race day.
While the wheel and yoke were off, Blake pointed out some of the inner neatness behind the airbags. You can learn a little bit about what’s behind the wheel by watching the video above.
We did not weigh the yoke and wheel (remember that Blake has been in a wild rush to get this car ready for a race on SUNDAY — after delivery was delayed by nearly two months), but holding them both in my hands, they seemed to weigh approximately the same. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you which one felt heavier.
Another thing we found interesting was that the yoke is notably wider than the steering wheel. We’ll come back to that in our short test drives with the yoke-equipped Model 3. Check in again tomorrow!
If you haven’t watched the video yet, note that starting at around 7:00, Blake also explains a bit more about what they’ve done on the car and will do on the car to get it ready for the race. It’s not a comprehensive summary at all, but a handful of details are mentioned. Check it out and enjoy.