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Track Prepping a Pre-Refresh Model S (Road Course)

Aggmeister2010

Active Member
Dec 26, 2018
1,138
1,021
TX
Hi folks,

Last year when my son was born, I had to sell my beloved E46 M3 track car. Given that all I have now is my 2016.5 P90D, that pretty much killed my track days.

Last weekend I got the chance to run a 911 GT3 RS around a local track for a few hours, and it made me remember how much I enjoy driving a road course.

I've seen plenty of threads on track prep for the new refresh/plaid S and a 3 with track mode, but what about the older S's? What would you consider track prep for them?

I'm not looking to set landspeed records, just have some fun for a few hours on the track without having to buy a spare car. Depending on tempreature, I may just leave it in standard mode to avoid overheating the battery.

My initial thoughts:

1) At least some StopTech pads and solid rotors, if not a big brake kit. If the Plaid's brakes are insufficient, older S's will get fade even faster.
2) 21" wheels and Michelin PS4s
3) Racing brake fluid?
4) Pull the ESP fuse?
 
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tm1v2

Active Member
Oct 18, 2021
2,016
1,646
USA
@Aggmeister2010 My understanding is that older Mode S like yours (or mine!) cannot possibly handle hot laps. Like they will overheat in a heartbeat, and getting the cooling under control for track use would be an extremely tall order, if not practically impossible. That's why you don't come across people track prepping them. Also there's no official way to turn off stability control or really loosen up the traction control if needed, that I'm aware.

I believe the Model 3 was the first S3XY Tesla to be plausibly capable of doing track days, and it's no coincidence the 3P was the first to get a Track Mode. (I've no idea if the Roadster could handle track days.) Even then a 3P doesn't have adequate cooling for full track days out of the box, but it's a lot better than an older Model S, and people seem to have solved the M3P's cooling problem sufficiently for a full day of typical HPDE sessions (at the cost of extra radiators, controllers, modified coolant loops, losing the frunk, probably losing some aero efficiency, etc). Of course doing full track days in a Tesla will also require solving the charging problem, unless you're lucky enough to be near a racetrack with a Supercharger or other DCFC next door!

I believe the Palladium S has better cooling than the Model 3 out of the box. That more than anything is why it's the first S to get Track Mode.

I suggest renting a track-prepped car, or finding an arrive-and-drive event, over trying to track your older Model S. Just my opinion, feel free to take it or leave it. :)



I using to do track days too btw, and I also sold my fun car when our kid was born - wife and I consolidated down to one car, our 2013 S P85. No regrets there but as it turned out, I really missed sporty driving fun too. Honestly the S never appealed to me for anything like racetrack use though. Sure it gets around turns surprisingly well thanks to the weight distribution, but it's so big and numb...it would take quite a makeover to make it feel like a corner-carver I think, even if drivetrain cooling wasn't an issue.

Now the 3 on the other hand is really tossable and fun. We got an M3P last fall as a second car and it's a blast to drive. (Obviously it's no S replacement in other ways though.) I'd love to drive a well-prepped 3 on a road course someday, I think it would be gobs of fun. I've upgraded the suspension on mine, as newer Model 3's come with a really soft suspension from the factory. It handles amazing now, better than any 4 door ICE car I've ever driven. Twisty roads or late-night empty ramps are pure joy in it. It's a shared family car for us though, so I won't be doing any track days in ours in the foreseeable future. Possibly I'll try autocrossing it, that seems a lot less risky and more compatible with its primary role as a shared family car. (So long as I'm only in it for casual fun, not trying to be super competitive in any particular class.)
 
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tm1v2

Active Member
Oct 18, 2021
2,016
1,646
USA
That sounds like a great option!

You're probably either familiar with this, or don't need to be, but just in case...are you on the taller side? If so you'll need a Miata setup for someone your height. Seat on the floor, bubble cage top and/or dropped floor pan, etc.
 
That makes a lot of sense. The track near me has a "rent a racer" program with some Spec Miatas I believe. I want to say they're like $400 a day, but that's cheaper than a trip to the service center!
Absolutely. I'm also under the suspicion that running EVs hard (like the older Model S) might wear down components a lot faster than we realize. I'm not sure if the drive unit bearings, inverter leakage, etc occur faster in vehicles that pushed to their limits compared to those used for commuter/cruising. Perhaps tracking an EV is in the near future with a track-built EV. As others have noted, I agree that the M3P with track mode would be much better suited than our S.

$400 to rent a Miata sounds like a lot of fun. While arguably underpowered, the balance and character of the car makes for a lot of fun.
 

Aggmeister2010

Active Member
Dec 26, 2018
1,138
1,021
TX
$400 to rent a Miata sounds like a lot of fun. While arguably underpowered, the balance and character of the car makes for a lot of fun.

I enjoy 'slow' momentum cars. I shared a 911 GT3 RS with a buddy for a while, and while the thrill of driving that car was unmatched, it was so fast that everything happened quite quickly and I had to be on my game 100% of the time. Miata gives you a little more "old brain" wiggle room to plan your attack.
 
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Completely agree with you on that. A buddy of mine has a 2010 GT3 (no RS) that I've both driven a few hot laps with and road a passenger with a professional at the wheel. It's definitely more power than I can confidently handle (one spin-out can shatter one's confidence...just remember to hold the clutch in). FRS/BRZ, S2000s, and Miatas are much more my speed. It teaches you how to carry your speed through the turns instead of drag racing into a corner. Combo turns are really fun with these 4cyl RWDs too.
 

Doanster1

Active Member
Feb 14, 2018
1,227
662
Oregon
Another ex-HPDE’er here as well. I get the monthly emails about the next events, which gets me excited, until I remember all the possible downsides if I take the P85D out. Overheat, brake failure, suspension issues. Last thing I need is for the fore arm to snap as I exit the last turn and head down the front straight. 🙄 Hell, I’m so worried about it snapping normally that whenever I reverse into/out-of a parking spot, I turn the wheel ever so gently and creep. Such a shame for us older car owners…
 

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