Last weekend the Unplugged Performance-modified 2022 Tesla Model S Plaid — the company’s Pikes Peak racer known as Dark Helmet — ran an astonishingly fast lap of Laguna Seca with track specialist Randy Pobst onboard. Set during this weekend’s Tesla Corsa track event, the weather was perfect and the track was ready and willing. With track-ready aero and suspension, but unmodified propulsion, the car made the most of its lightweight wheel and sticky tire package to put down a 1:28.21 lap.
Tesla made claims that the pre-production Plaid ran a 1:30.3 lap, which was already impressive, but knocking more than two seconds off that time is otherworldly. For perspective, UP’s lightly warmed over Plaid is an electric sedan running a faster lap time than Porsche’s track-focussed GT2 RS, and coming within shouting distance of McLaren’s carbon-tub monster Senna, which ran 1:28.3 and 1:27.6 respectively. All three of those track laps were run with Pobst plugged into the driver’s seat, so while not all variables can be accounted for, that’s a pretty big one.
While I was already impressed by the lap when it was just a number on the page, it didn’t really set in how impressive it was until I sat down and watched the onboard video that Unplugged released on Tuesday. The pure speed of this lap looks incredible, but what really impresses is how eerily quiet it is. Obviously being an electric car it’s going to be quiet onboard, but quietness doesn’t usually come with this level of track performance speed. It’s just so weird!
The best part of this video is definitely the sound of the tires ripping over the rumble strips at apex and track out. It’s just wind noise, wind noise, wind noise, brrrrrrrt, wind noise, wind noise, wind noise, braaazzzzt, then some tire scrub under braking, a higher pitched brrrrt, and you’re back at the finish line.
I recommend spending at least a second watch of the video with your eye trained on the speedometer to the right of Randy’s non-yoke steering wheel. I mean, JEEEEZ, the guy is carrying over 100 miles per hour into pretty much every corner, and it’s just nutty!
Almost 160 into the braking zone for the Andretti Hairpin? 130 under the bridge into turn 5? Good lord, that’s some serious speed! This is a street-legal car. They’ll just sell this to anybody! And, yeah, I mean, it’s a lot of money at 125,000 bucks, and probably another 20 grand or more in upgrades, but good luck finding a Senna right now for under 1.2 million! Heck, even the 991 GT2 RS is more than double the price of the Plaid.
Say what you want about Tesla, but they know how to build a really, really, ridiculously fast car, and Unplugged Performance knows how to make them go even faster!