Like it or not, electric vehicles en masse are coming, but one of their shortfalls remains and is likely to continue for years to come to be charge-time and the accessibility of fast-charging stations outside of large metro areas. And so if you’re traveling long distances on backroads through middle America and with a specific timeline, you could be in for some headaches.
Cheyenne Lord, an Arizona businessman who goes by “Uncle Chet” on his “Chillin’ with Chet” YouTube page, embarked on a unique journey last week to complete Rocky Mountain Race Week 2.0 with a fully electric car. Chet had purchased one of Tesla’s Model S Plaid cars, a $130,000 sedan that is presently the world’s quickest production street car, and set out to prove it could be done. But again, the challenge was the availability of charging sources in rural Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — and so Chet sourced a large, three-phase mobile generator before the event to tow behind the nearly 8-second-capable family car. It was like a service station on wheels for the car with an advertised 390-mile range.
Unfortunately, the generator could only deliver full charge times of around eight hours, and when you combine full-throttle passes down a dragstrip each day, running the air-conditioning, and other draws on the battery, the needed range to get to each stop on the RMRW tour wasn’t there without plugging in for lengthy charge-ups or crossing ones fingers for a Tesla Supercharger on the route.
On the third day, competitors faced the longest trek between two tracks of the event, 305 miles from the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, to Tulsa Raceway Park in Oklahoma. After successfully completing the first two days of the drag-and-drive competition, Chet and his co-pilot found themselves faced with a dilemma: charge the car with the generator and miss arriving at the next track in time, or deviate from the official route to find a Supercharger and bow out of official competition. In the end, they chose the latter, but continued on to the remaining stops anyway, in order to find the performance limits of the silent supercar.
On RMRW’s final day, at Noble, Oklahoma’s Thunder Valley Raceway Park, Chet threw the kitchen sink at the Plaid, ripping out every piece of interior (and even exterior) plastic that could be feasibly removed to reduce weight. The end result was 1/4-mile passes of 9.39, 9.22, 9.11 at a best speed of 153.71 mph, and a best of 9.09-seconds. That run, to our knowledge, is just one-hundredth of a second shy of the world record for a production car, set by a Tesla in St. Louis, Missouri back in July.
One day, there will likely be a fast-charger on every corner in America, but for now, finding ways to keep a battery-powered car charged in a grueling competition like this one with a will prove a competition in and of itself.