Tempers Flare After Tesla Model S P100D Dominates Eighth-Mile Drag Race Showdown

It’s internal combustion vs. electric power, and the good ol’ boys aren’t happy.

byKyle Cheromcha|
Electric Vehicles photo


Here's a scene that will become more common over the next 20 or 30 years: Electric cars dominating their gas-powered forebearers at the drag strip. It's no secret that electric motors put out incredible amounts of torque off the line, but someone forgot to tell that to the five racers beaten by a mostly-stripped Tesla Model S P100D at a "cash days-style" eighth-of-a-mile showdown at 710 Dragway in Rowland, North Carolina earlier this month. And just when you think everyone's learned their lesson, a sixth challenger appears for an extracurricular grudge race and doesn't take too kindly to the obvious result.

YouTuber Tesla Racing Channel has been building up his new Tesla Model S P100D into a drag racing demon since taking delivery last September. The car already boasts one of the fastest 0-60 times ever for a production car—possibly even quicker than the official 2.5 seconds—and TRC has lightened the load even more by stripping out the interior and swapping the stock wheels for a lightweight 19-inch-by-10-inch BBS set. Throw in some Mickey Thompson drag-focused tires and electrical upgrades by noted "Tesla hacker" Jason Hughes, and it's hard to imagine much short of that 2,700-horsepower Nissan GT-R besting this beast in the 1/8-mile run.

To test it out, TRC took the Model S P100D to a "cash days-style" night meet at 710 Dragway, where the cars take off from the far end of the strip to simulate an illegal street race. The pavement down there is in pretty poor shape, plus there's a man with a flashlight giving the signal instead of the usual Christmas tree. 19 cars entered at $100 a pop, and over the course of five runs the P100D handily beats two Ford Mustangs, a G-Body Monte Carlo, an S-10 (yes, really), and a fourth-gen Camaro to win the top prize. 

Though the it beats everyone off the line, both the fifth-gen Mustang (at 4:10) and the Camaro (at 11:00) come flying back near the finish line and would easily defeat the Tesla in a quarter mile race. All the instant torque in the world can only take an electric car so far, so quickly without multiple gears. Perhaps that's why another cocky Camaro driver saunters up at 14:20 and challenges the Tesla to a final run with $600 on the line.

After a little back-and-forth, Mr. Camaro agrees to give our electric hero the break. In street racing terms, that means the Tesla driver can take off whenever he wants to, and the Camaro driver has to react to his start. This is monumentally stupid for a number of reasons—the Tesla has AWD, launch control, and boundless off-the-line torque—and the results at 18:00 bear that out.

In the aftermath, the final three minutes of the video are where the magic happens. One of the organizers informs the Tesla driver that a few people in the crowd are upset with him. Why exactly? Well, it's hard to hear much between the drunken yelling and macho posturing, but you can make out a few choice phrases: That was a shitty-ass poor-ass excuse for a race! I work on electric cars, you know that was a bullshit run! Sure you do, bud. The Camaro driver is also pissed, calling the Tesla driver "scared" and complaining about the head start that he willingly gave him. 

There are a few morals to this story. One, don't pound a beer between runs at the drag strip like several of these geniuses do. Two, don't challenge an AWD electric car AND give it a timing advantage on the 1/8 mile. And three, don't react to losing $300 by ranting and raving about how it doesn't matter to you. Then everyone knows it does.

Video thumbnail
Car TechElectric VehiclesNews by BrandTesla NewsWatch This