A Look Inside The Model 3 That Beat The Track Time Of MacLaren F1 At Tsukuba

Featured Photo by Erik Strait, Owner of the winning Model 3 (Photo from his YoutTube video).

Back in February, a Tesla Model 3 performance showed both a McLaren F1 who’s boss at Japan’s Tsukuba Circuit. A Tesla Model 3 by Unplugged Performance challenged a McLaren F1 (among others)  around Tsukuba proved that it meant business.

The story, shared by Tesmanian, of how this car made its way onto the Tsukuba track is exciting. It started with a Tesla owner and enthusiast, Erik Strait, who modified his car. He chose Unplugged Performance to fit it with its Model 3 Ascension-R package and it was shown at SEMA in 2019. In January of 2020, Unplugged showed the car at the Tokyo Auto Salon and Tesla Japan supported these efforts.



The following month, Strait’s Model 3 ran the Tsukuba Circut with Ken Negoro behind the wheel. It was an open track day event and Negoro had never driven a Tesla before. The fact that his first Tesla driving experience was this one is sure ot be memorable for him–especially after beating the lap record of a McLaren F1.

AutoEvolution recently shared the story of how a team of “meddling kids” has taken the Tesla Model 3 to the next level and it is now able to beat the track times of both Porsche and McLaren.  The article took a dive into what goes into this modification of the Model 3 along with the cost.

Unplugged Performance’s specialty lies in upgrading Tesla vehicles. An Ascension-R Conversion Program for the Model 3 is one main feature. This group, according to the blogger at AutoEvolution, is really pushing the limits on the Model 3 and one of those limits set a record just recently. The Model 3 beat both a McLaren F1 and a Porsche 911 GT3 RS lap times on the Tsukuba Circuit–beat them by a second.



Here’s what Unplugged Performance did to the Model 3 and what type of Model 3 it was. They took a standard Model 3 which has:

  • 0-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds.
  • Top speed of 162 mph.
  • Range of 299 miles per charge.

The range can be extended on a larger battery for an extra $9,000 which also boosts the 0-60 time and the top speed. The kit from Unplugged Performance, which costs $35,000, is something that pretty much redesigns your entire vehicle. Here’s what you get from that:

  • Modified suspension. This includes a custom race valved coil-over suspension kit that allows you to adjust control, camber, and toe arms. There’s also a three-way adjustable front and rear sway bar. Also, the car can be tuned from soft to firm while coupled with 6 pistons 15.5″ carbon-ceramic brakes giving you all the control.
  • Wheels. You have the options of 18″, 19″, or 20″ wheels with Michelin Cup 2 tires. The wheels are made with the same materials used by Koenigsegg and Lamborghini and weigh just under 20 pounds per will for the 20″ model. I could work out with one of those wheels.
  • Aero on the back. Unplugged Performance works with Voltex Racing Suzuka to produce each Ascension-R wing–this is crafted by hand. This gives them the creative space to provide a custom build for each owner while also giving them room to modify the design before the process begins.
  • Interior. One major change was the seats. The original seats were replaced with proper racing buckets equipped with Unplugged FIA certified racing harnesses. As a token of appreciation for Elon Musk and his sense of style, they created a plaid design for the coverings as a tribute for Tesla’s upcoming 3-motor drivetrain.


To see AutoEvolution’s photo gallery that includes a photo of the plaid seats, click here.  Unplugged’s CEO, Ben Shaffer, was also on the Third Row Podcast where he shared his thoughts on the Ascension-R Model 3. He said that it could do better and that he felt the modified Model 3 could have done 1:02.5 at Tsukuba if the weather was better that day.

He also said that if Negoro had more seat time, the Model 3 could have reached the time of 1:02.5. The Unplugged team had less than 30 minutes of driving time and the weather was pretty cold. Schaffer also said that if the Model 3 had semi-slick DOT legal tires, it could have had a run time of 1:01. It could have reached 0.59 with stripped interiors and racing slicks.


EVs are showing that they are the bosses on the race tracks. Last year was just one of many stories. When Porsche unveiled its Taycan and touted it as Tesla’s archenemy at Nürburgring, the two are actually allies for the EV movement. In the similar fashion of football games, team and their players have the undying loyalties of their fans. The same will happen for Telsa and other EVs as we see more EVs not just racing other EVs, but other ICE vehicles as well.


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