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Track Mode - a day with HOD @ Laguna - my personal observations…

it was suggested I share this here…

Tesla M3D review: split decision - Laguna Edition - Rennlist - Porsche Discussion Forums

Hello all I just completed a track day @ Laguna Seca with Hooked on Driving with my 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range Performance Edition - Dual All-Wheel Drive + Performance Package

to be clear I went into this as an experiment - I have a track car and I did not expect the Model 3 to match my GT3 in any way shape or form, I'm both pleased and disappointed from my experience - also I don't believe my conclusions are unexpected or even surprising, but they are factual, and no longer speculation. There is good news and bad news below for all parties…but there is little clarity and by this time next year EV's will be further along…but for now enjoy reading below. But it was an experiment and I never considered my Model 3 purchase to be "for my track toy" - it still excels at being a daily driver.

Some Specs/Facts about the 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range All-wheel Drive Performance Edition
  • Range: 310 Miles
  • Top Speed: 155 mph
  • 0-60 mph: 3.3 seconds
Performance Package Includes
  • 20” Performance Wheels
  • Michellin Pilot Sport 4S Tires
  • 235/35 ZR20’s on all four wheels
    • Street Pressures 42 psi
    • Track Pressures that I ran 38 psi (hot on track)
  • Performance Brakes
  • Carbon fiber spoiler (yet to be delivered)
  • Lowered suspension
  • Aluminum alloy pedals
  • Track Mode software option in driving options - Version 2018.42.8 d1a49f2
The car was tracked in a 100% factory condition - there were NO modifications to this car

Weather at Laguna on Nov. 16th could not have been better - f’ing perfect perfect day at Laguna, a real gem, conditions could not have been better for this test.
68-74 degrees F - clear skies - all around great day
just wow

Due to Technical difficulties (I HATE GoPRO!!) I only have one session video - but it will suffice and has some limited data (speed, g-forces)

My background at laguna
  • my personal current best lap 1:41.xx in my 2018 GT3 on Dunlops tires, can do this often so not a fluke - working towards sub 1:40’s - not a fan of the Dunlops
    • I’m fairly confident some different brake pads and Michellin pilot sport 2 cups will assist me in my goal - so it’s doable
  • past personal historical lap 1:38.xx in a 2010 GT3 Cupcar on full slicks - vs. Simi-pro time (different driver) of 1:32’s in same car - again I’m pleased with my pace
  • we know mod’d GT3’s at this track can do low 1:34’x - so I’m not the quickest, but I don’t fully suck either…feel free to disagree - and then try and follow me at laguna
Facts Known to be true
Best lap time for a Model 3 Performance so far is a 1:46.xx https://electrek.co/2018/09/15/tesla...a-seca-record/
configuration of this car is unknown - mods? Tires? Pressures? Configuration? 100% stock?
no track mode software was present on the 1:46.xx car
Randy Pobst’s MotorTrend at Streets of willows review was conducted on 245/32 ZR20’s PS 2 Cup’s (not the stock 235/35 4S’s I’m on) + Brembo brake pads which also are not stock
based on my experience I'd like to see Randy do 4 back to back runs - don't think the car could do it.
also I'd love to see the MotorTrend battery consumption metrics for the runs - doubt the car could run all day

The best lap time I was able to achieve according to ApexPRO data was 1:50.32

I’m fairly confident I could lay down a 1:48-1:46 lap time with PS 2 Cup’s and different brake pads in this car - a quicker driver might do a 1:42 - maybe.

Lap times for session #3 were
  • Outlap xx:xx.xx
  • Lap 1: 1:50.32
  • Lap 2: 1:53.89
  • Lap 3: 1:51.35
  • In Lap: 2:32.99 - slower pace for entire lap after brake overheat warning
Top speed in a quick review of the video 109 mph
Max g’s 1.2 g’s in various corners
Handling is stellar
Track mode is a hoot and the car behaves wonderfully
Instant torque off an apex is intoxicating - it’s a thing of beauty - you really really have to try it!

At the 7:48.xx time stamp on the video you can hear a “beep beep beep” - this is the car showing me a new never before seen warning on the main dash screen

Brake Temperature Extremely Hot
Drive with Caution
I did not try the car with and with out track mode. I ran 3 session (out of 5 possible sessions) - all sessions were done under track mode.

Overall impressions:

The Model 3 handles well and power is ample - at no time did the car’s behavior concern me - handling is stellar for a 38xx lbs 4 door sedan - easy to place on track - this car is really really excellent - just wow!
My overall impression is that the Model 3 is a quick and fun car on track (at laguna) with no stamina what so ever {sigh}. I encountered a few issues with the car in it stock configuration.
Track mode represents a major win and is major progress towards a street EV being a decent track car, but still has a long ways to go. In particular for my circumstance I encountered the following difficulties
  1. The performance brakes would overheat going in turn 2 by lap #3 or #4 - this was accompanied by a pedal feel loss and greater effort/distance for stopping - it was manageable but disconcerting - confidence post this point on track was low and a wise driver will take a few 10th off the table because now you have to feel out what the car can do rather than just blindly slamming the brakes as the last sec in your braking zone
  2. The car will still reduce maximum power under battery overheat conditions, but it takes 3 or more laps to encounter this condition - reduction is very very subtle, and it’s just “muted” coming off an apex, or slightly slower uphill or on the straight, nothing overt, but really it’s just not quite as crisp as it used to be…but still mostly fun - you could stay out and still have fun, but see item #1 the brakes have robbed you of your confidence…good thing the car is a bit slower.
  3. After lap #3 or #4 the car’s performance off the apex of corners going to full power was muted, I could not tell if this was stability control or power limiting due to battery thermals
  4. Stablity control in track mode is looser, slight drifting is possible, going to full throttle is easy, fun and nearly consequence free, super fun bits of oversteer for that out of corner rotation we all love - if you haven’t experience EV stability/traction control it’s nothing like an ICE, it’s just a very very subtle assist and very non-invasive - very very hard to detect - and again a thing of beauty - I look forward to the future.
  5. Battery consumption was extreme even with my short sessions (5 laps or less) consuming 30% or more battery - charging infrastructure on site at Laguna is insufficient to sustain the car for a typical 5 session HDPE day (or any track that I'm currently aware of)
  6. I was never willing to complete more than 5 or 6 laps and brought the car in early in all sessions cause I just didn’t want to flog the car in it’s over heated condition - see above items - I could have stayed out, but why? Why?
  7. I could drive this car all day even with the power reductions cause it's just a joy to drive, but the brakes and consumption make it a difficult car to track. But the car is still fun even when down on power…handling is just sooooo good.
I can either be really negative or really positive on my experience. I can’t help but be disappointed given that I choose to never complete a full 25 minute session. The positive is this car is wonderful for the 1st 3.5 hot laps, fast, quick, easy to drive, ample power really really fun with virtually nothing little to complain about - it’s really really good - you can easily pass other cars and moving it around the track is effortless - it’s a real joy and I was giddy, and it has no problem making sound at Laguna on a 90DB day - after lap 3.5 lap at full pace however it starts to unravel with both power limiting and and braking limitation contributing. After lap 3 or 4 at laguna you begin dealing with multiple stamina issues…

The summary is really really easy - there is _NOTHING_ wrong with this car’s dynamics, but it has no stamina. I was unwilling to complete a full 25 minute HOD session in C group (advanced point by passing) due to the following issues -
  1. After the brake warning comes up the 1st time, the braking becomes haphazard and for safety sake I started driving more cautiously
  2. After lap 3 or 4 laps the car is definitely down on power and becomes a muted version of itself - still fun but no longer super quick
  3. 5 laps at laguna is 30% or more battery consumption, even if issues 1 and 2 didn’t exist the consumption for a full 25 minute session is untested by me, but I just couldn’t do it knowing I had to manage enough battery for the rest of the day
I could live with the power reductions (car still handles great) - but the brakes overheating with an in car warning and accompanied pedal feel and great stopping distance is a real confidence robber - you have to change driving modes cause now you no longer know what your braking situation is - again I can live with the power throttling…car still handled great and was still fun…but I have to be able to trust my brakes…that’s a deal breaker for me.

But the trifecta of:
  1. Overheated brakes
  2. Power throttling
  3. Extreme consumption
I just never chose to stay out for the full session - 2 of these 3 problems I might’ve stayed out - but all 3…time to come in.

The car is really really really good for the 1st 3 laps - nothing to complain about - you might be able to recover it and do another 2 laps if you did a 3/10th pace after the 3rd lap - go out do 3 hot laps, do one full 3/10th lap - go do another full pace 2 hot laps? I didn’t try that. But even so I was consuming more than 30% battery for the 5 laps I was doing, staying out another 3-5 laps would consume another 30% battery? I'll never know.

There is a supercharger less than 8 miles from Laguna - you need 8% battery to get there…so a visit over lunch break would easily get you back to 70-80% battery and come back for the afternoon sessions

I gave up on the afternoon sessions because I felt I had learned all I needed to learn from this little experiment - and didn’t really want to flog the car un-necessarily…

Charging choices at Laguna
  • Various NEMA 6-30 plugs in the garages for tire warmers - you need a custom adapter (which I have)
  • You have to set the charge rate in car to 24 amps (80% rule) - estimated battery % recovery during 45 min between sessions 6% battery if you’re late to grid and really push it
  • There is one available NEAM 14-50 plug next the gas pumps - I was able to recovery 8-10% between session at this one plug
Battery Management looked as follows
  • Leave home at 100% - leave 1 hour early to hit the supercharger at Seaside Tesla (8 miles from Laguna)
  • Arrive Seaside Supercharger @ 88% battery - 6 am
  • Walk to McDonalds grab some breakfast - watch the charging from the phone app - eat a leisurely breakfast - no hurry
  • Unplug from Seaside Supercharger @ 97% - 6:32 am
  • Arrive at Laguna and park in paddock/garage - battery is now 90% - 7:15’ish am - unpack set up car and fuss until track goes hot at 9 am
  • Plug into garage NEMA 6-30
  • Session #1 - enter track with 94% battery - do 5 to 6 laps (data lost due to goPro sucking) - leave track slightly early - 61% battery - consumption 33% for a 2/3rd’s session
  • Plug-in to sole NEMA 14-50 next to gas pumps
  • Session #2 - enter track with 68% battery - do 4 to 5 laps (data lost due to goPro sucking) - leave track mid point during session @ 37% battery
    • begin considering if you’re going to hit the supercharger over lunch so you can do the 2 afternoon sessions
  • Realize the good cork screw pictures are session 3 - so decide to tough it out
  • Plug into the NEMA 14-50 plug to charge car
  • Wait until last possible minute to enter track for Session #3
  • Enter track with 50% battery - exit track 4 laps later @ 21% battery
  • I decided I didn’t need to flog the car for the after noon sessions - with the long lunch (2 hours) I think I could’ve gotten enough to do the last two session
    • But as I said I felt I had learned enough and I have a dedicated track car, this car does not need to be it…
Home to Supercharger - 100% - 88%
Supercharger - 88% - 97%
Supercharger to Track - 97% to 90%
Morning unpack - 90% - 94%
Session 1 - 94% - 61% (6 laps max - 20 minute session)
Charge NEMA 14-50 - 61% - 68%
Session 2 - 68% - 37% (5 laps maximum - 25 minute session)
Charge NEMA 14-50 - 37% - 50%
Session 3 - 50% - 21% (4 laps - 25 minute session)
Lunch break - I decided to call it a day

Thoughts/conclusions/observations in no particular order
  • The car is really really really good for those 1st 3 laps, truly spectacular given it’s weight and sedan’ness - it was a 100% hoot and I highly recommend it - so easy and quick - really really good.
  • Track mode is major progress and this car is way more capable on track than the Model S or X - kudos to Tesla for doing this
    • My model S couldn’t even do a full lap without power throttling due to battery thermals, and it’s brakes are just a joke for track use…stamina is even worse.
  • If you want to track this car it will need a brake upgrade - the braking inconsistencies mid session really rob confidence and invite an “off” if you don’t adjust your driving - after they overheat it becomes a cautious guessing game as to how hard you want to push the car
  • It’s still a bit soft, some stiffer springs would make this car even better (I’ll post pics when I get them, some great compression shots in turn 3 & 4)
  • Instant torque on a race track is the holy grail and truly awesome - out future is bright and we'll all love it - it's just sooooo good.
  • Brakes can be fixed, the battery thermals can be fixed, you can’t fix the consumption - to truly track this car for a full HPDE day and run full sessions you will need the following
    • Fix the brakes
    • Fix the battery cooling
    • You’ll need some fast DC charging at the track, the Model 3’s 48 amp max L2 charge rate just isn’t going to cut it for a full 5 or 6 25 minute session track day
      • You might be able to get away with 72 amp L2 charging like the S/X max charging L2 rate, but the track would need 90 amp L2 chargers - easily achieved, but they would need to be installed
  • Anyone claiming a lap record in this car, please ask them if they can do it 4 or 6 times back to back to back - I don’t see how that’s possible with the current production car, but I could be wrong - I often do 6 or 10 laps with in 1/10th of each other in my GT3 back to back to back
    • until someone shows me any EV lap time "records" are a one and done affair - you can bank on it!
  • You begin the session passing 911’s GTS’s - you finish the session down on power unable to overtake a hot-hatch going uphill between 6 & 7…and staring at the battery % meter and say "wow" - just "wow".
  • The car was a thrill really really good, but a disappointment in the end cause I don’t see how you can run this all day at near 8 or 9/10th for 25 minutes at a time…I just don’t think it possible - I could be wrong.
  • Off track this car’s range is impressive - 21% battery - getting home from Laguna to San Jose - no problem - put on autopilot have a stress free easy drive home, stop briefly at the Gilroy supercharger - grab an in/out burger, have more charge than you know what to do with in the time it takes to eat the burger - really really back in this car’s wheel house, street driving it’s masterful and really really good car.
At the end of the day I’m both pleased and disappointed. I’m 100% confident the stamina issues can be overcome and will be overcome, but I doubt the Model 3 will be the car that does that. It’s possible to build a really spectacular track on EV platform and the Model 3 is spectacular, some minor tweaks and this car could be seriously quick. If you grant the brakes and thermal problem can be overcome and you can target a 30 minute HPDE session - we’re then left with the consumption problem - by my estimate a full 25 minute session at 8-9/10th would be a 45-50 kWh affair…(based on my muted 4-6 lap sessions doing 30% consumption damage, or about 25 kWh).
  • You need 40-50 kWh for a full 25 minute HPDE session - 53% of a Model 3 battery to run a full 25 minute session by my estimates - probably closer to 60%
  • Then you need to restore those 40-50 kWh in less than an hour between sessions…let’s say 45 minutes
  • 40-50 kWh in 45 minutes is: 70,000 watts for 45 minutes = 50 kWh restored to the battery in 45 minutes
  • You need a Fast DC charger at the track - maximum L2 charge rate is 19,200 watts (100 amp circuit and car that can handle it - 80 amp charge rate)
    • That’s 1/3 of what you need for a 25 minute DE session @ laguna
I’m impressed
I’m thrilled
I’m disappointed
I’m frustrated
I'm confused
But I’m glad I did it…

The car is great, but it’s no track car even with track mode software. Based on my abbreviated 3 sessions at laguna - when Elon claims a track record - I can almost guarantee the car can only do it 2 to 3 times back to back - and then needs a healthy rest before it can do it again - and they will have depleted the battery quite a bit.

The stamina issues can be overcome, and they will be overcome and ICE’s have something to fear…EV cars can and will be very very good, among the best in terms of performance…but the consumption rate will need to be considered if you want to do a track day or weekend - infrastructure at the track will be required to run these cars all day, once they can stay out for a full session.

This car is still an excellent daily driver and I have no regrets, it’s one of the best cars you can buy as as street car - it’s a master of it’s class in this role - and even road tripping with the supercharger network - and it shows the potential of EV’s as a track car, but it is no track car, and won’t be for quite some time, and even it was ready to be a track cars, the tracks don’t have the infrastructure to support it. Some missing pieces still needs to be slotted into place to track this particular EV and enjoy it’s full potential - but the glimpse of what is possible (oh those first 3 laps) gives me hope, and wow it can be sooooo good. Let’s push to get there, but we are by no means done and the Model 3 as some real factual limitation in this role.

The best of both worlds is to drive to the track in your Model 3, and drive your GT3 on track (having it brought there by trailing - hey even tow it with a Model X) - but to go out for 20 minutes or more - I've done 45 min in my GT3 - I just don't see that happening for the current Model 3, even with brake upgrades.

it's still a split decision - but clearly not a track car, but what an enticing 3 laps in beginning of each session - just wow.


Porsche 918 Hybrid
Jun 15, 2015
Silicon Valley
Excellent write up...Well done! Join us for the ReFuel EV track day at Laguna Seca next season in July.
You may want to change to high performance track pads and tires before you consider a full brake upgrade. :cool:

Tesla Model 3 with small mods sets new record at Laguna race track

In order to get that time, Rogers had to perform some small yet quite smart modifications that help shave a few seconds. The last time we saw a Model 3 make a hot lap on the race track, the driver was quite surprised by the performance, but he did complain about the brakes.

Rogers addressed the issue by adding Hawk Performance Blue 9012 Racing Brake Pads to his Model 3 and using racing brake fluid. He also used A7 – SIZE: P255/35ZR18 Hoosier racing tires on 18×9.5 Enkei RAIJIN wheels Finally, Rogers also found a way to disable stability control and ABS by unplugging the speed sensors on the wheels.
Last edited:


Active Member
Dec 27, 2017
Great write up and i 100% agree that we need track-side superchargers to support a growing EV track community. It's the only way to get around the power requirements for tracking without carrying a massive battery (which obviously isn't ideal).

I wish Tesla would let people purchase and install their own so some entrepreneur could take the risk and install a few at some major CA tracks. It would definitely cost more than a regular supercharger, but even if it was $25-30 to "fill up" i'd still pay it!
Awesome write up! I am glad to hear such great things, and real talk about our cars weak points. The heat is an issue, and I hope Tesla folks are looking at the data and upgrading the cooling systems weak point. Makes me wonder what is the weak point is, and how can it be addressed? You are the first I have heard to report the extreme brake heat warning. Time to upgrade the pads and fluid before I come and play.

Wouldn't Superchargers be great at the tracks? Even just 2 or 4 could really transform the track experience.
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Active Member
Dec 27, 2017
Prior to track mode, the item that would "overheat" and limit power output was the inverter for the motors. I suspect its still the limiting factor but track mode helps keep it cool longer plus they increased the temperature limit to let it go a little further before limiting power.

Also i'm guessing the brake temperature warning must've been related to the fluid boiling. The car only has DOT 3 fluid stock (surprising, i know) so i think we could get some good improvements just from changing that alone.
Prior to track mode, the item that would "overheat" and limit power output was the inverter for the motors. I suspect its still the limiting factor but track mode helps keep it cool longer plus they increased the temperature limit to let it go a little further before limiting power.

How is the inverter cooled? Is it cooled through the same heat exchanger that cools the whole DU?


Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Mar 6, 2013
San Diego
According to the Motor Trend article, it is indeed the motor that overheats. It'll be interesting to see if the Roadster 2 has extra cooling for the track. To be fair, it isn't unusual for ICE cars to need/want souped up oil coolers for tracking (as well as brakes and tires of course).

And yes, both tracks and Tesla need to get together to install Superchargers at their locations. Destination chargers aren't going to cut it, not only for during the day, but also for getting back from isolated tracks.
Thanks for the writeup, well done.

Having taken a fairly inexpensive gas turbo engined car on that track, it's very interesting to see where the weak points are for the (much more) expensive 3. Weight clearly remains an enemy. A set of track pads on the econo-turbo let me do all sessions the full amount, biggest cost was chewing up some tires.

No doubt the 3 has some tremendous potential, curious to see how it develops and at what cost.
I see consumption as the most difficult problem to overcome - L2 chargers won't do the trick - we'll need some high end commercial grade superchargers or 150/350 KW CSS chargers - prognosticating that we'll have an adapter in the future and all the other EV's are CSS standard…

the Brake issues can be addressed (although some cooling design in the front facia should also be considered)
and the motor/battery cooling can also be addressed

brakes can probably be fixed by after market
motor/battery cooling however probably needs Tesla's assistance - and I don't think it's their priority (nor should it be IMHO)

so once you address brakes & cooling...we're left with consumption…an estimated 60% drain for a full 25 minute session just can't be fixed via L2 level charging…

I still had fun - and the car is great until it's not.
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