The Tesla Model S has won its share of drag races, but the electric sedan hasn’t made as much of an impact in other areas or motorsport. Next month, though, the Tesla’s limits will be tested like never before when a Model S enters the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
The Model S will be driven by Blake Fuller, founder and CEO of Go Puck, a maker of wearable battery packs. Fuller will modify the car with a new battery pack that is 80 percent lighter than the stock version, according to Carscoops. That should make a big difference, as the Model S weighs over 4,500 pounds in stock form in part due to the heavy pack. The new pack is expected to have less capacity than the stock version, but the car only needs to travel a short distance.
Pikes Peak is a sprint, not a marathon. The 12.4-mile course leads racers to the 14,115-foot summit of its eponymous Colorado mountain. There are 156 turns, and 4,725 vertical feet of elevation gain. The high altitude actually gives electric cars an advantage, since they don’t rely on air to operate. Internal-combustion engines tend to lose power as air gets thinner.
In fact, last year’s winner and runner up were both electric cars. Rhys Millen won in a eO PP3 built by Latvian engineering firm Drive eO. It was a purpose-built racing car powered by six electric motors, which sent a combined 1,368 horsepower and 1,593 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels. Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima finished second in another purpose-built car, the Tajima Rimac E-Runner Concept One. This beast sported 1,475 hp.
Similar monstrous electric cars will race again this year, but Fuller won’t compete directly against them. Instead, he’ll attempt to set a record in the Electric Production class, which is for cars based on showroom models. The Model S is already one of the sportiest electric cars around, which should work in its favor. It’s not the first Tesla to enter the race either; a Roadster raced at Pikes Peak in 2014.
We’ll see how Fuller and his Model S do when the 2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb gets underway June 26. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the hill climb.