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Tesla Model S, Roadster Break Electric-Car Lap Record At Laguna Seca

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In just a few years, the Re:Fuel racing event has become legendary among those who like their electric cars really, really fast.

Two years ago, Joe Nuxoll set a new lap record for electric cars there (1:50.888), driving a completely standard Tesla Roadster.

At this year's event, held at California's Laguna Seca Racetrack on June 30, he was able to beat that record.

But so was another driver.

Lap record

While Tesla didn't officially take part in Re:Fuel back in 2011, Nuxoll was one of several Tesla employees (he had a role in the Model S user interface design) at the event.

He was able to nail the lap record due not only to the Roadster's remarkable speed, but also to considerable prior experience at the track.

Nuxoll is not only a talented and experienced and race driver, but he instructs less-skilled drivers on how to negotiate high-performance events at Laguna Seca and other tracks.

Nuxoll's YouTube page is filled with videos of his driving, much of it in his personal track car, a 2008 Lotus Exige S.

2012: 'Awesome, bummer'

While he's no longer with Tesla, Nuxoll's always been eager to get back to Laguna Seca to see if he could improve on his 2011 performance.

Last year at Re:Fuel, he ran his Elise in the Lotus Cup event and also gave rides around the track.

Being there was "both awesome and a bummer," he told us, because there he could see Model S cars "crushing" the Roadsters they competed with.

But, significantly, last year no Tesla of any kind managed to beat his 2011 lap record.

"In his spare time, Nuxoll is a racing instructor," noted one report on that race, "and one wonders what the results would have been had he driven a Tesla of any kind in this year's race."

Tesla Model S Performance Plus at Re:Fuel event, Laguna Seca, June 2013 [Dominick Yoney/AOL]

Tesla Model S Performance Plus at Re:Fuel event, Laguna Seca, June 2013 [Dominick Yoney/AOL]

Enlarge Photo

Beg, borrow, steal

This year, Nuxoll got a chance to find out.

He "begged, borrowed, and stole a Roadster" from his friend Carl Quinn to try to improve on his own record.

His track time was limited to one test lap and one timed lap, totaling 3 minutes--which you can see in the video above.

Meanwhile, Tesla Motors brought a stock Model S Performance Plus car, driven by employee Aaron Bailey--who has his own 15 years of racing experience.

Both cars beat record

And then the laps began.

While Bailey beat Nuxoll's lap time by 0.018 second, both electric cars bested the 2011 lap record by about 2 seconds.

And, Nuxoll notes, he was briefly impeded by a BMW ActiveE on Turn 10 (2:15 to 2:20 in the video).

Why do we think perhaps another effort might be in the offing at next year's Re:Fuel event?

15 years racing karts, cars

Tesla's Aaron Bailey was traveling in Europe, but we were able to ask him a few brief questions via e-mail.

Aaron Bailey and Sean Wheeler of Tesla Motors, at Re:Fuel event, Laguna Seca racetrack, June 2013

Aaron Bailey and Sean Wheeler of Tesla Motors, at Re:Fuel event, Laguna Seca racetrack, June 2013

Enlarge Photo

GCR: What is your background/experience in racing/competition?

Bailey: I've been racing karts since I was 11, and cars since I was 16, for a total of 15 years now. Currently I race nationally in sports cars.

GCR: How many laps (practice and timed) did you take?

Bailey: I had about 3 or 4 practice laps in the morning, but have driven at Laguna Seca a lot in the past.

GCR: Was the car a production-standard Model S 85-kWh Performance Plus version, or was it modified?

Bailey: It was a standard production Tesla Model S 85kWh Performance Plus.

GCR: What led you to compete in the Refuel event officially?

Bailey: It's good to see how the cars respond on the track--and it always allows for some bragging rights back at the office!

For a more complete report on the whole event, see the coverage and photo gallery at AutoblogGreen. (Nuxoll's car is the orange Roadster # 2.)

DISCLOSURE: Nuxoll worked as a designer for High Gear Media before joining Tesla in 2011.

Our thanks to AutoblogGreen for use of the Tesla Model S photo.

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Comment (1)
  1. Wow, just yo know that the huge Model S is even close in track time to the Roadster is impressive, and to see that it can be faster is amazing! This shows how far and how fast Tesla is from the early days of designing the Roadster.

    Bring on Gen III.
     
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