On Friday a video was released that showed that the Tesla Model S Plaid had set a new Nürburgring record. It managed to set a time of 7:30.9 which is quite a bit faster than the previous record holders’ time of 7:42.3. That was set by a Porsche Taycan Turbo back in 2019. Elon Musk was quick to tweet about the record, and made a specific point that the car was unmodified.
Since then some folks online have noticed that some of the cars running at the track, in spy photos and videos taken on the day of the record run, aren’t exactly stock. Something hinky is going on here. In the tweet below, you’ll see a red Plaid with what appears to be a large set of carbon ceramic brakes under non-stock wheels. Many have also noticed that the same red car was running with a round steering wheel rather than a yoke. That doesn’t exactly scream “unmodified”.
Twitter user @Benshooter later walked back the accusation of Musk lying about the record. Tesla posted onboard video to its own YouTube channel of the record run, and it appears that the only modification made was to put an aftermarket digital gauge readout in front of the driver, even retaining the stock yoke steering wheel. The video was also posted to The ‘Ring’s YouTube channel, corroborating the authenticity of the record. The official lap time for this onboard video is 7:35.579.
So what gives? What’s with the other time listed, a 7:30.909? Clearly Tesla has more speed up its sleeve. Judging by the onboard video being set in a red car, it appears Tesla may have had two red cars on hand, one stock and one seriously modified. There was also at least one black car on hand as well. Maybe Tesla ran several iterations of the Plaid at the track, including some future track-focused version with carbon ceramic brakes and a round steering wheel.
With the results having been certified as a record by the necessary officials, Tesla seems to have gone through the motions of getting this done the right way. There’s no reason not to be a little skeptical of Elon Musk claims, but at least this time it appears that everything is on the up and up. It’s a little sketchy that Elon didn’t explain the actual “record” was the slower of the two lap times he posted on Twitter, but it’s entirely possible he doesn’t know the difference.