Today was not like every other day, I enabled Track Mode.
What started as an overcast day with a damp track finished with me setting a new personal best lap time around our local circuit. Like a growing number of electric vehicle owners, I took my car to the track and enjoyed the electric performance on offer.
My Tesla Model 3 Performance may have been made in 2019, but feels every bit as exciting as it did almost 4 years ago. On paper, the car does 0-100km/hr in 3.3 seconds, but take it to the track and you unlock a whole lot more fun and the challenge of keeping control of that power (and weight) around the turns.
The event was held by Trackschool Trackdays, at the Barnawartha North race track, just 15 minutes out of Wodonga. The Barnawartha track is 1.6KM in length and anything under 1 minute is fairly tidy lap time.
While electric vehicle adoption is growing in Australia, I was fully expecting to be the only EV there today, but thankfully another 2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance arrived. While the action on the track is what I came for, I really appreciated the opportunity to chat and compare notes with another Tesla owner.
Today’s event was really a fun day, so there was no official timing, however, Tesla’s built-in track mode offered all the timing we needed. While others were downloading 3rd party apps, Track Mode in the Performance, allows you to simply tap on the map to drop a start/finish line and it takes care of the laptop timing for you.
With the drivers are divided into red, orange, green, and yellow groups based on driver experience and car performance. I landed in the top group, red, having been at the track once before and setting a lap time just north of 1 minute.
I had three goals for the day: 1. Don’t bin it, 2. Have fun, 3. Set a new PB and beat the 1 minute lap time.
I’m happy to report I managed to successfully complete all 3 goals.
This was the first time I’d had the chance to try the Michelin Pilot Sport 5 tyres and I was really impressed with how they performed across a wet and dry track, however, based on the fun had today, I may need another set – this could get expensive.
When racing an EV the race prep was simple, basically remove anything from the car that didn’t need to be there, so the car seat had to go. After a quick clean, a check of the tyre pressures, I was good to go, but we need to talk about charging and racing.
Before the day started, I charged the car and arrived at the circuit with 93% state of charge (SOC). With 6 sessions scheduled 3 before lunch and 3 after, I planned to go charge at lunchtime, to give myself the best chance at the best time.
Each morning session took about 15% SOC from the battery, 90 down to 75, 75 down to 50 and 50 down to 35%. With the Chargefox (now RACV) DC Fast chargers literally a minute from the track, a lunchtime recharge felt like a good strategy, however, what I didn’t plan on was the increased demand for these chargers and the fact that 2 out of 4 chargers were not working.
As I pulled in, both active chargers were in use, a Tesla Model 3 on the 350kW charger and a Hyundai Ioniq 5 on the 50kW charger. I parked and ask the M3 driver how long, to which he said he expected they’d need another 15-20 minutes of charge time.
With no other option, I went to have lunch, not while the car charged, but while I waited for the charger. By the time I arrived back, a queue had essentially formed, a BYD Atto 3, a Polestar 2, a Volvo XC30 Electric. After the Model 3 left, I quickly jumped on the charger and the cars shuffled around me as the queue again grew with a Mercedes EV arriving, along with a Tesla Model Y which ended up going into town to charge.
The moral of this story is this, we need more charging to keep pace with the diverse and rapidly growing electric vehicle adoption. People like me are going to want to race their cars and with those cars being EVs, we need to recharge, which is why this circuit and charging location are perfect, but all of that falls apart when chargers are broken and not being repaired promptly (these have been offline for at least a week, probably much longer).
Chargefox says they are working on publishing reliability data around their charging network, but we don’t have a firm date for that.
With 75% SOC, I felt it was time to free up the charger for others, so headed back to the track for the next session. By session 4, the track had dried and I had enough laps under my belt to improve and this is when I managed to beat my previous best time, dropping almost a half second off my earlier PB in the day.
My new time stands at 59.480 seconds and below is a video captured on a combination of the DJI OSMO Action 4 camera and the GoPro Hero 11 Black.. let me know in the comments what you think of the lap because from where I was, was a whole lot of fun and as you can tell, I was pretty excited to achieve the time.
Today, was a seriously fun day, made great with Tesla’s Track Mode v2 which offers customisation of your power distribution, stability control, regen amount and also logs the data from your drives to your USB drive. This is the kind of feature that Tesla didn’t need to add, but I’m really glad they did.
Now for the video.