Historically, the intersection between electric vehicles and drag racing has been really small – or so we guess, at least. But the advent of Tesla in the auto marketplace, and the subsequent performance offered up to drivers by way of battery-powered cars, has caused even racy publications like DragTimes to get in on the action.

Having posted several YouTube videos featuring the Tesla Model S doing pulls at the local strip, DragTimes encountered questions about just how many races that car might be able to run before needing to re-juice its battery pack. The publication monitored the energy being used by the Tesla during full-throttle, quarter-mile runs, and determined that the net use (after energy from the regen braking was added back in) amounted to just 0.5 kWh per go. Considering that the full battery capacity is 85 kWh, DragTimes figured that the Model S is good for a remarkable 170 races before needing a recharge. By that math, and using electricity costs in DragTime's home state of Florida, each race would cost just a nickel and a penny's worth of electricity.

With respect, that theoretical number is probably way too high. For starters, the car would expend some energy getting to and from the starting line between races. Perhaps more critically, the system is designed to not allow for a completely full charge or deletion of charge, so the car can't use all 85 kWh. Still, 100 runs is in the realm of possibility. In the video below, the narrator makes mention of 150 runs, which is optimistic but more likely. Cheap thrills, in any case (once you've paid for the car).


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  • 71 Comments
      El Angel
      • 1 Year Ago
      The future holds a lot of quiet drag races.....
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @El Angel
        They should use trapezoidal commutation instead of sinus commutation. That'll make these motors loud :]
          Chris M
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          It's an induction motor, no commutator, thus no commutation. Besides, they went to great lengths to get a nice smooth sine wave from the inverter, that maximized efficiency, and, yes, reduces noise.
      tool0117
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just a great, great car. This car makes me have hope for the American car industry. Way to go Tesla.
      bluepongo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Green = Fun > Buzzkill comments = No Fun ( and they're getting dumber ) :-P
      benleonindubai
      • 1 Year Ago
      was the test in the youtube video a dyno run or actually driven on a road?. if it was driven on a road, its really very quiet even for an electric.
      Grendal
      • 1 Year Ago
      While this is useful information it's not all that fun. So here's a number of actual drag races with the Model S: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvHTN0Yi1t4 Model S vs BMW M5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLCdP6sMN9k Model S vs. Dodge Viper SRT10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6_2AywGIa8 Model S vs. 2013 Corvette https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYwSiLTcF0Q Model S vs. Bi-Turbo Mercedes E63 And being put through its paces: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOdsTuaJEfc
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nice.
      Tone
      • 1 Year Ago
      1. Drag racing is a pathetic form of racing (only drifting is worse) 2. Drag racing an electric car takes NO SKILL !!! 3. Drag racing a luxury saloon proves what?? enough said
        Sir Duke
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tone
        @ Tone: "enough said" Actually, you said too much. I love it when a do nothing, nobody underestimates, what it takes to do something that they themselves have never done. Example: This lard a$$ I worked with on Wall St. was arguing that race car drivers are not athletes, because the car is actually performing the feat, not the driver. This coming from someone in his late 40s who never learned to how drive a car.
        Scooter
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tone
        Well...yeah? Drag racing is pretty simple, press the gas and stay straight. Stick drivers will need to shift precisely to get the best results, while AT drivers will simply propel forward....Of course money is king, the guy in the more powerful car can win, and the S is about $98k, and performs superbly in stock form. Im not sure anybody said "drag racing" requires amazing skill, but its a fun activity for regular guys that aren't professionally trained enough to tackle a race track.
        karmarind
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tone
        "Stock" car racing is worse. NOTHING made today is raced.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tone
        Drifting isn't racing.
        Rochester
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tone
        You should try it at least once in your life, regardless of what car you bring to the strip. It's a rush when those lights come down and you launch with everything you got. At the very least, try it on a lonely street sometime when no one else is around. It's a good way to learn what your car can do, and what you can do with your car. And if your car has traction control, turn it off. It's a good leaning experience. Pretty childish comment you made there, Boss.
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      "The publication monitored the energy being used by the Tesla during full-throttle, quarter-mile runs, and determined that the net use (after energy from the regen braking was added back in) amounted to just 0.5 kWh per go." .5 kwh per 1/4 mile = 42.5 miles per 85 kwh I guess that means Top Gear was right about the horrible range on track.
        Ricardo Gozinya
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        Could very likely improve on that with a transmission. Electric motors don't do well at all in the upper RPMs.
        Grendal
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        Top Gear also pointed out how most supercars get about 4 MPG. They just didn't conclude from 4 MPG that the car was useless and doesn't work like they did with the Tesla. All cars use a lot of energy/fuel on a track. That's why it's a track - for fun and to push the limits of a vehicle as far as you can.
          Grendal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Grendal
          Top Gear could have also shown the process for pulling oil out of the ground and converting it to gasoline. With the conclusion from that being that the whole process is much too tedious to bother with. With Tesla they next showed it being plugged into a wall and how that would take 72 hours to recharge. While accurate too, just like the conversion of oil, was utterly misleading. I like Top Gear. It's just entertainment, not a news show.
          Dave
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Grendal
          "Top Gear also pointed out how most supercars get about 4 MPG." yes. they were very fair in pointing that out as well.
      JonathanBond
      • 1 Year Ago
      Smart Tesla Drag Racers will keep their battery at a high voltage so their model S can get a better drag time. So I'm pretty sure they are keeping it plugged in between races; although the Model S doesn't need to be plugged in. See, Batteries aren't limited anymore. Gas companies put fear in people because they were scared of this day.
        JakeY
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JonathanBond
        You can still get extremely consistent times (within 1-2 tenths as mentioned by other commenter) without plugging in because the charge doesn't drop much (even with the vampire draw that will be addressed via update by the end of this year) in the time you are waiting. It's fairly easy to get the advertised 12.6 sec 1/4 miles. But if you want closer to the "world record" time in the 12.3x seconds, then keeping the car at a higher charge will help.
          mustang_sallad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          All of this depends on the controls software. For all we know, Tesla might artificially limit the output power in such a way that the battery can always provide consistent power, regardless of SOC. In other words, maybe the battery isn't the bottleneck. I know of at least one production EV that does exactly this. A curious Model S owner will hopefully answer our questions by dragging all day long without recharging.
          JakeY
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          @Rotation "Chickens being counted before they hatch on the vampire draw fix here I see." Tesla already said they will have a intermediate fix in the next update or two (which will reduce vampire draw significant) and a complete fix before the end of the year (this one will bring draw close to zero). It's all about bringing back the "sleep mode" that they had before, but fixing all the bugs they had before. I don't see it has a huge challenge, just will take some time to get through the bugs.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          That depends on the chemistry of the battery. Tesla us not using lifepo4 ( which has a fairly steady voltage curve ), so it will really do the best times when fully charged.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      A red Tesla S with those dark rims makes me so jealous. Not that I can afford a $96,000 car right now, I would definitely find a way to mask all the chrome with black if I could. Great car. Looking forward to the lil'brother.
      turborob
      • 1 Year Ago
      In calculating the cost, did they add back the electricity regenerated by braking the Tesla at the end of the pull?
        Dayv
        • 1 Year Ago
        @turborob
        The answer is right there in the article. Try reading next time.
        Grendal
        • 1 Year Ago
        @turborob
        1.1 kWh used for the run and .6 kWh regenerated = .5 kWh used in total.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Grendal
          I think you'd get shorted regen on the strip. The Tesla Model S can only regen about 85kW IIRC. And to regen 600Wh at 85kW would take 25 seconds. If you slowed from 114mph to 0mph over 25 seconds (assuming constant deceleration), it would take 0.8miles or about 4200 feet to do so. You'd run out of room at most strips before you could do that, as the shutdown area is usually about 0.5 miles or 2600 feet.
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      To be 100% accurate, the battery on the Model S is not a limitation at all for how many runs you can do on any day at the drag strip. Because making just 10 runs in a single day at your typical drag strip would be a lot of runs. 100 runs in a day? That's a pipe dream. Nobody gets in 100 drag races in a single day. You have to take turns because there are other people there. That's like trying to get in 100 rides at Disney Land in a day. The real challenge to Tesla Model S drag racers would be voltage sag. I don't know how well the Model S handles voltage sag for something like a drag race. But it would be fun to find out!
        JakeY
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        Most people drag racing a Tesla will arrange first for socket to charge the batteries in between runs (when you have to wait in line anyways). That keeps the battery voltage as high as possible to get the best possible times.
        graphikzking
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        Exactly I've been at the track more than once when someone blows something and leaks oil all over the track and it's a 1 hour delay. I've been there for 4 hours and only gotten 1 run in some nights, and other times I've gotten 5 runs in. With electric, thus far, you don't have to worry about oil leak etc but if something crashes, I'm guessing the batteries would pose a hazard since many people don't know how to handle them just yet. Voltage sag would be interesting to see. I know I've seen some Teslas drive to the track (20-25 miles) and then do 3 runs all within 2 tenths of a second and drive home. No idea if they were getting charged in between runs, but each run was only about 30-35 minutes apart so now I'm really curious.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @graphikzking
          Like a tank full of race gas wouldn't be a hazard in a crash either? ( cue videos of nascar's worst crashes ;) )
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @graphikzking
          By track, you mean strip?
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        100 drag runs, and it's time to rebuild the motor and maybe put a new clutch in soon :P 100 drag runs on a battery electric? Maybe you took 1%-2% off the battery's lifespan by abusing it so hard, only if it were not thermally managed or designed properly.
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