Update: The Tesla Model S Plaid completed the race and set a record for electric cars for the course. (Though, I think only one other EV raced the course.) Here’s a short video update from Blake Fuller:
Before today, no electric car had ever raced in the Mt. Washington Hillclimb, one of the oldest car races in the USA (the first runs were on July 11 and 12, 1904). Today, two electric cars are racing up the highest peak in the US Northeast. One is a modified electric vehicles, and one is a stock electric vehicle (as it came out of the factory, barring some basic modifications to make the car safe & sensible to race).
As I’ve documented in a couple of articles this week, the stock electric vehicle is a Tesla Model S Plaid that Blake Fuller received from Tesla a little more than a week ago. He has been feverishly getting it ready for the race and texted me a little while ago that the car “finally passed tech.” In other words, the car is permitted to race! Blake spent Saturday finally getting some practice in.
If you haven’t followed this sort of thing, here’s the summary I published a few days ago: First of all, note that Blake holds a few racing records to his name. He was the youngest Rookie of the Year at Pikes Peak Hill Climb when he won that award in 18, and he currently holds the record for the best time at Pikes Peak in a production electric vehicle. He’s also a deep tech guy, and invented the first lithium-ion starting battery after founding Braille Battery (which he eventually sold). “Blake’s batteries power professional racing cars around the globe and are in every IndyCar, V8 Supercar, DTM racer and 1,000’s of other vehicles,” his site notes.
I’ve seen an extremely detailed presentation on what went into the Pikes Peak Hill Climb record, and I’ve ridden in a Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model 3 on a race track with him — the dude knows how to race. To put it in simple terms, I’d trust him to safely race around the track with my computer, TV, and other valuables inside, but there’s no way in hell I’d put one of my kids in the car with him (not because he’s careless, of course — I got quite the opposite impression — but because it’s a crazy dangerous sport and seeing that to only a minor degree up close & personal was enough to scare the piss out of me*).
For more on the race, here’s what the race website says:
The race has a three-day format, with practice runs on half of the mountain on Friday and Saturday morning. The practice location on either the lower half or the upper half of the mountain depends on the weather.
On race day, Sunday August 15, each competitor makes two full runs of the technical, steep, and winding mountain road — once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. The field of 80 cars leave the starting line one minute apart from each other to tackle the 7.6 mile Auto Road.
The Auto Road is the oldest man-made attraction in the United States, and is driven by approximately 50k recreational vehicles each year. Today, it typically takes a car and driver about 30 minutes to reach the summit — this race is a rare chance to see extreme drivers test their mettle on this extraordinary terrain.
Also known as the “Climb to the Clouds”, the Mt. Washington Hillclimb is the oldest automotive Hillclimb in North America. First run in July 1904, it took place seven years before the first 500 mile race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and twelve years prior to the inaugural Pikes Peak Hillclimb in Colorado. The Climb to the Clouds was run sporadically from 1904-1961, then not again until 1990 when it was run consistently until 2001.
Following a ten-year hiatus, the Mt. Washington Hillclimb returned in 2011 in support of the 150th anniversary celebration of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, which first opened on August 8, 1861. Since the 2011 event, the Hillclimb has taken place in 2014 and 2017.
The current record for the race was set at the last Climb to the Clouds event in July 2017 by Travis Pastrana at a blistering 5 minutes and 44 seconds. For anyone who has driven the road this is an almost unfathomable feat!
So, yeah, Blake only had one day of practice instead of two, and he’s never driven this track before (unlike Pikes Peak, which he’s been familiar with for years). We’ll see how he does.
Somewhat humorously, but also a testament of the fact that we’ve still got a long ways to go with EVs, the entrant list for this 2021 race says that Blake is driving a Tesla Model 3 Performance. As noted above, he’s not — he’s driving a Tesla Model S Plaid. I’m not sure how the mistake was made, but this is where we stand.
For more on Blake’s prep for the race with the brand new (and then almost immediately stripped) Tesla Model S Plaid, see our previous two articles and videos:
Check out Blake’s website to learn more and to support his efforts here in New Hampshire and in future races he’d like to join (if funding can be secured): Electric Performance.
And stay tuned to CleanTechnica for more on the prepping and the race!