Watch Jay Leno set 9.24s quarter-mile world record in the Tesla Model S Plaid

The Tesla Model S Plaid has just started deliveries, and it already has a world record under its belt.

Jay Leno was recently invited to drive the electric super hatch down the dragstrip at Pomona raceway in Bakersfield, California, where he managed to run a quarter-mile ET of 9.247 seconds at 152.09 mph. The stunt was filmed for Leno’s “Jay Leno’s Garage” series and previewed on Saturday during a CNBC news segment.

The time represents a new world record for production cars, with Leno during a June 2 podcast on Spike’s Car Radio claiming that people from the National Hot Rod Association were “there to make it official.”

Tesla Model S Plaid specs

Tesla Model S Plaid specs

This means the Model S Plaid is quicker than the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, which ran the quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds and was banned from the strip by the NHRA for being too fast without additional safety equipment. It’s also quicker than the previous record holder, the Bugatti Chiron Sport, which posted a time of 9.4 seconds.

Tesla’s claimed quarter-mile time for the Model S Plaid is 9.23 seconds. The company also promises 0-60 mph acceleration in under 2.0 seconds, which would also be a world record.

We should point out that Croatia’s Rimac said its Nevera electric hypercar can run the quarter-mile in 8.6 seconds and America’s Czinger said its 21C hybrid hypercar can do it in just 8.1 seconds. Granted both of these cost in the vicinity of $2 million and seat only two, whereas the Tesla is a family-sized vehicle priced from $131,190, including destination.

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

Tesla dropped a bombshell in January when it announced the new Plaid grade for the Model S and Model X as part of a major update for both model lines, an update that also includes an airplane yoke-style steering wheel and no more transmission stalk.

Central to the Plaid models is a new three-motor powertrain that delivers a peak 1,020 hp. In the Model S Plaid, the powertrain will hit its peak 1,020-hp rating at about 60 mph and maintain this all the way to its 200-mph top speed. Tesla estimates the range at 390 miles, and says with high-speed charging approximately 187 miles can be added in 15 minutes.

Tesla previously announced an even quicker Model S Plaid+ with over 1,100 hp, though this model has since been canceled since the regular Plaid is already potent enough, according to Tesla.


Should you use racing oil in your road car?

Every part of a modern race car is optimized to extract maximum performance—including the fluids that go into it. Specialized racing oil is a must in the paddock, but is it a good idea to use that in your road car?

“Engineering Explained” host Jason Fenske answers that question in this video, talking to engineers from Mobil1 (which also sponsored the video), engine builder Roush Yates Engines, and NASCAR team Stewart-Haas Racing.

First off, Fenske emphasizes that racing engines don’t have much in common with road-car engines. Pushrod V-8s like the ones used in NASCAR disappeared from the average American car decades ago, and racing engines in general have a very different duty cycle. They’re flogged (a NASCAR V-8 can rev to 10,000 rpm and spend 90% to 95% of a race at full throttle), but also have fairly short maintenance intervals. NASCAR engines have their oil changed about every 500 miles and are only expected to last about 1,500 miles, Fenske noted.

Ford Mustang NASCAR Xfinity Series race car

Ford Mustang NASCAR Xfinity Series race car

NASCAR oil is also fairly unrestricted (rules can vary by race series), giving teams more leeway to look for competitive advantages, Fenske said. Teams tend to use thinner-weight oils to reduce frictional losses and maximize power. That’s not great for longevity but, remember, the engine only needs to last 1,500 miles. Road-car engines, on the other hand, are expected to last hundreds of thousands of miles, so that kind of tradeoff isn’t possible.

Racing oils and road-car oils do have some commonalities, though. They use a lot of the same additives, such as detergents, dispersants, anti-foaming agents, antioxidants, and rust inhibitors, Fenske noted.

However, the difference is in the details. Oils used for road cars are designed to meet a long list of regulations and requirements set down by individual automakers. In NASCAR where, again, rules governing oil are fairly loose, teams can optimize an oil for one specific engine design. It’s really that process that makes racing oil work, and it’s just not practical for individual road cars. Unless you have your own laboratory and a lot of patience, at least.


Princess Diana’s 1981 Ford Escort heads to auction

A 1981 Ford Escort sedan previously owned by Princess Diana is headed to auction with Reeman Dansie, which plans to put the car under the hammer on June 29.

The car was given to Diana by Prince Charles as an engagement present in May 1981, two months before their wedding, and was used by her until August 1982, according to the auction house, adding that the Escort has been out of public view for 20 years.

An Escort might not seem worthy of a princess, but this is the upmarket Ghia version, at least. It also sports a silver frog hood ornament, a copy of a gift from Diana’s sister, Lady Sarah Spencer, inspired by the fairy tale of a beautiful girl whose kiss turns a frog into a prince, per the auction listing.

Princess Diana's 1981 Ford Escort - Photo via Reeman Dansie

Princess Diana’s 1981 Ford Escort – Photo via Reeman Dansie

The current owner is a “great admirer” of the princess, and has kept the Escort’s history secret until now, according to the listing. Auctioneers verified the car’s authenticity from its vehicle-history file and registration number, according to a BBC write-up of the sale. The auction house also claims photographs of Diana in the car—with the same WEV 297W license plate it wears now—confirm the royal connection.

The Escort still sports its original paint and upholstery, and currently shows 83,000 miles on its odometer, according to the listing. This was the third generation of Escort, marked by a switch from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. Ford eventually devised some performance versions of the third-ten Escort for the European market but, despite having one of the larger 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engines, this isn’t one of them.

Reeman Dansie expects the royal Escort to fetch between 30,000 and 40,000 British pounds (approximately $42,000-$57,000 at current exchange rates) at auction, and noted that Diana’s Audi 80 cabriolet sold last year for 58,000 British pounds.