It had been more than 50 years since I'd been to a drag race--back in what now seems almost like the very dawn of motoring.
Back then, I just watched.
Yet here I was, just a month ago, behind the wheel of my Tesla Model S P85D, facing off against another car as I watched the lights change.
Red, yellow ... GO.
It was the very first time a Tesla P85D had ever run head to head against a standard S85 at the Sacramento Raceway open drags.
Our cars took on several other combatants powered by gasoline engines as well. As it turned out, a P85D draws a lot of attention from drivers of gasoline cars.
Both Teslas held their own, and confirmed their reported performance times.
2015 Tesla Model S P85D timing slips from different drag-racing matchups [photo: George Parrott]
Guy Hall, the driver of the S85 Tesla, had never even been to a drag strip. While his learning curve was a bit steeper, we both agreed that:
Our cars, by the way, were joined by not only a range-extended electric Chevy Volt but no fewer than three all-electric Toyota RAV4 EVs (powered by Tesla, of course).
It may have been disconcerting to racing fans used to the loud engine revving and their smoking tire warmups when the Teslas cruised silently to the line with their stereos playing.
We simply waited—-and then exploded off the line and down the strip without a single tire chirp.
The S85 Tesla ran consistent mid-13 second quarter mile times at just above 105 mph, and my P85D turned rock solid sub 12 second times (best 11.72) at just over 113 mph.
2015 Tesla Model S P85D - 'Chiseled by man and nature' [photo: George Parrott]
As well as the standard Model S 85, I beat a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG.
In fact, I got him by 1.5 seconds at the finish line--it wasn't even close.
Unfortunately, I had the slowest reaction time of the evening when I raced a white Nissan GT-R. I lost, badly.
Still, this past Wednesday, during a road trip to Denver, I found that open drags were happening that afternoon.
I went over in the P85D, now updated with the latest xxx.168 software--and turned in a NEW best time of 11.69 seconds @ 115.13 mph.
At 71, I think I've found a new hobby.
[Video footage supplied by Eugen Dunlap and Bruce Aldrich]