Pikes Peak: The Silent Revolution
Two years ago, almost to the day, we wrote about the VW ID R, its earth shattering record at Pikes Peak in 2018 and how electric cars were starting to knock on the door of competing in the Race to the Clouds.
718 days and a global pandemic later, we revisit the silent revolution that is happening across the pond in Colorado. Electric cars are not only competing against each other but with petrol cars too, and each year, the electric cars are becoming more and more competitive. The entry list is increasing in electric drivetrains and decreasing in petrol ones.
Pikes Peak is in its 99th running, making it one of the oldest races in the world. The race starts at the base of a mountain, and goes to the top of Pikes Peak, through 156 corners, 12.42 miles, climbing through nearly 10,000 feet and an average gradient of 7.2%. Electric cars have started to dominate here because petrol engines struggle with the air pressure change from the bottom to the top, whilst electric cars don't need air to operate. Their performance doesn’t alter from the start of the climb to crossing the finish line. That meant that the VW ID R set the new all out record at 7.57:148, over 15 seconds faster than it’s nearest petrol competitor. 15 seconds is a lifetime in motorsport.
Why are we writing about it again? Because it is quickly beginning a microcosm of the shift in attitudes towards electric cars. We see “normal” electric cars being converted into race cars rather than bespoke, one off, purpose built race cars. Multiple tuners from the US West Coast have been tuning standard Model 3 Performances, one of these companies is called Mountain Pass Performance, a fantastic name for what they are trying to achieve. The other is Unplugged Performance. Unplugged Performance, based in LA, who started years ago, retrimming the inside of Model S and adding new wheels now have a brand new Model S Plaid, sporting a new suspension and a giant GT3 rear wing. Driven by veteran US racing driver Randy Pobst, they had some issues at Pikes Peak last year, when he over cooked one turn in practice using a Model 3 Performance.
What is awesome to see is that electric cars (which can be bought from the dealer) are becoming the race car of choice to build. Previously, we saw Model S drivers adding ice to the bottom of their road cars to keep them cool before heading up the hill. The new Model S Plaid comes with a brand new HVAC system which Elon promises will keep the battery cool with all day of pushing. We’ll see if it works on the 27th of June in the Race to the Clouds. In some prep work they’ve been doing, it looks sublimely quick - like faster than a McLaren Senna on a track day quick. This is all so important because I think sometimes it is easy to see more people using electric cars on the road, but it is hard to see how the prices will drop, and how the technology will filter down to your everyday driver and normal cars. But this is happening at an accelerated pace at Pikes Peak - it helps to see how current race teams, as well as new ones, are either switching or entering electric cars for the first time thanks to the increasing accessibility to EVs.. As more people get exposed to the technology and can see it has real world benefits, our world will shift to electric. Over on this side of the Atlantic, electric racing is only just beginning and Octopus EV drove in the first electric race the UK only a few weeks ago! What’s clear to see is that motorsport is beginning to take EVs very seriously, which can only be a good thing for the wider market.
Of course, if you have any questions or are interested in getting your hands on an EV, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!