Our 2020 Pikes Peak entry left a bitter-sweet taste in our mouth, leaving us with some unfinished business. And this year, we are keen on taking care of that business with a bang!
If you followed our trip that was the 2020 Pikes Peak carefully, you’re well aware that it was an emotional rollercoaster ride. It was an event where we, as a company and an all-electric racing team, faced some pretty great highs, but also, some pretty deep lows. How deep you ask us? Let’s just say we were halfway to China at one point. It was in late August of last year, when Randy Pobst, our trusted factory driver, was barreling up Pikes peak, tickling 13,000 feet above sea level, entering a corner they call Bottomless Pit at 113 mph in the Unplugged Performance Model 3 Ascension-R race car, when things (no pun intended) took a bad turn. Randy went off. The racing world stood idle, taking a deep breath, waiting for the dust to settle and see how Randy faired up. Luckily, in the end, he was unhurt and all the work put into the Ascension-R race car – from the performance, all the way to safety additions – ensured that our race driver left the scene of this horrific crash unscathed, only with a hurt ego and some great material to tell his grandkids.
Up to this point, everything had gone smoother than a warm chocolate fondue. It’s my sixth shot answering the siren’s call from the fourteener boulders of America’s Mountain—the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The thrills and challenges of open-road racing are irresistible to me. But things have just taken a bad turn. – Randy Pobst, in an interview for MotorTrend
While many have written both us and Randy off, we managed to assess the damage and by working effortlessly through the next 48 hours, we managed to get the car fixed and ready to allow Randy another chance at Pikes Peak. It was done both thanks to our team’s tireless effort, but also, thanks to people like Joe Brenner of Porsche Colorado Springs, who allowed us the use of his body shop, but also, Brian and Christian, two trained Tesla techs. Furthermore, it was our CEO, Ben Shaffer, diving into the situation headfirst, going and buying another Model 3, then working with the team to scavenge all the parts we needed for our race car. In the end, Randy drove the Model 3 into the rock wall on Tuesday, and by Saturday night, we were doing donuts in the parking lot and then full-on figure eights to test the car at a private airport. Finally, we were ready and Randy gave his best at the race on Sunday.
Sunday morning, in a heroic comeback, we roll up to the starting line for the race. I feel fantastic for the team, who put in a herculean effort to give us another shot at glory. – Randy Pobst, in an interview for MotorTrend
However, as you’re probably aware, things didn’t go as smooth. While the car performed well and as intended, the crash caused some internal damage to the battery pack, even though at first, everything seemed fine. As a result, we tackled the Pikes Peak at about half power but managed to make the summit in the end. Something we pride ourselves with, as this was a huge win in itself. On the other hand, if you know us, even there, at the Colorado mountain top, you knew this wasn’t going to satisfy us.
After all, the mountain beckons irresistibly. See you at the 2021 Pikes Peak, out there in the clouds, with Randy at the wheel and a brand new Unplugged Performance Model 3 Ascension-R race car, striving for greatness. And in the words of an immortal: Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose.
In the meantime, grab a look at our monstrous 2020 Pikes Peak media gallery right below.