Tracking the Tesla Model 3, Part I: Preparation and Expectation
Friends that know me tend to see me as a very hardcore track guy. My time attack GT-R has led people to think that I'm a racer that will track every car that I own and will push it to the extreme limits whenever possible. But in fact, I'm a man with a very clear vision of my car usages and I never use cars for what its not intended for.
So what were my intentions for my Tesla Model 3? 100% EV, range, comfort, price, safety, auto-drive, HOV access ... you get the idea, nothing in terms of performance. While Tesla has been marketing their vehicles being sporty and powerful, it was never a reason for me to get this car. Doing 0-60 in less than 5 seconds is considered a very nice bonus for me.
My car is not the Dual Motor Performance version that everybody rants about. It is the Long Range RWD model that is now discontinued. Why not get the Dual Motor Performance version? Read my listed intentions above again. However, I have been growingly curious. Curious how this car would perform on the track and there's only one way to find out 😉
Track preparation for any car you bring to track is a must. Only a handful of cars that come straight out from the dealership can be taken to the track immediately. See below on how I will prepare my Model 3 and what I’m expecting from this car.
Chuckwalla Valley Raceway CW will be the first track my Model 3 will track on. I feel like this will be a very good first track for my car. It is a very momentum driven track and doesn't rely on heavy braking and big power. It will be a good first track to test the limits.
A set of 245/40/19 Bridgestone RE71R will be used for the car's track debut paired with a set of Rays Gramslight 57CR 19x8.5. The Bridgestone RE-71R is a very high grip tire and provides great feedback. The biggest drawback for these tires though is that they are more sensitive to heat and pressure and the drop off for performance is pretty sharp.
If the car proves to be fun and track worthy, then a wider set of 18" wheels will come next which I can then explore more tire options. In stock form, the car comes with Michelin Primacy MXM4. No thank you.
With my history of working with Race Technologies for my time attack GT-R, I donated my car for them to design their first Brembo GT 6 piston 355x32mm system for the Tesla Model 3. I will be going with their GT system instead of their GT-S system, since my Tesla's primary goal is not for racing. But if you plan to heavily track your car, the GT-S system is definitely the one to go with. Hard anodized calipers will never change color and internal dust boots will keep your calipers nice and clean.
I have opted for the Type III rotors and a Race Technologies TS20 pad. The TS20 pad is probably one of the pads that have the highest bite (initial response) with no noise and dust. Anything with more bite, will probably yield some squeak and more brake dust. To help increase the bite of the TS20 brake pads, I opt'd for the Brembo Type III rotors. By having this pad/rotor combo, I will be able to yield the most amount of bite with the least amount of noise and dust.
I am retaining my OEM suspension for my first event. I think that the current suspension products offered on the market for the Tesla Model 3 is not versatile enough. I will stay put and keep an eye out for the time being to see what will be offered later. Yes JRZ, I’m keeping both my eyes on you.
For the time being, tire pressure will be the key to keep my tires in contact with the surface and to prevent it from rolling onto the sidewalls.
This will definitely be a new aspect that I need to consider for tracking my Tesla. Carrying jugs of E-85 to the racetrack for my GT-R has been the norm, but unfortunately I cannot bring batteries to the racetrack to recharge my car. Routing the closest supercharger station and having access to high amperage sockets at the track will be a must. 50 miles from Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, there is a supercharger station in the city of Indio. That will be my go-to supercharge station the morning before the race starts. I have confirmed with CVR that a 240v outlet may be used for my charging needs. So hopefully I will be able to replenish as much charge as I can and also to have enough juice to make it home. 🙁
Traction control -
In the Dual Motor Performance Model 3, a track mode is offered which helps manage the traction control. Unfortunately being on the lower end side of the spectrum, Tesla does not offer track mode for my car and there is no way to defeat the traction control. Mountain Pass Performance is working on a module as we speak, but it is not available for public release yet. While I don’t plan on drifting the car or pull some very steep slip angles, I could already guess that the OEM traction control will be very limited and safety will be their number #1 priority. I don’t have a solid game plan to go about this. My plan is to just take the car out, feel how the car is, see how intrusive the system is and go from there. I would predict some racing line adjustments and absolute smoothness will be probably be needed to keep the traction control from slowing me down too much.
Regenerative braking -
Like the charging challenges for the Tesla, regenerative braking for this car will be a technology I will need to adapt for track use. For those who are not familiar, when u have no throttle or brake inputs in the Model 3, the electric model will actually slow the car down to help regenerate electricity. The regeneration portion does not work proportionally with the brake pedal, but instead works with the initial part of the throttle pedal (like the Toyota Prius). This may pose a challenge in trail braking the car or getting the right entry speed. It’s going to be interesting to see if this feature will help or hurt the car on track. It led me to think, left foot braking may help adapt to this feature. The problem is, I don’t know how to left foot brake 😭
I think by covering these areas and aspects of the Tesla Model 3, it’s ready for its first race day. Like most HPDE track days, the primary goal is to have fun and go home with the shiny side up. The mod bug is definitely biting hard, but as I share my upcoming experience with my kids, they were kindly enough to remind me the purpose of this car once again: “Daddy, please don’t make the Tesla into a race-car” 😂
Stay tuned for Part 2.