The famed Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will have an unexpected entrant in its 100th anniversary race: a Tesla Model S. This isn't any ordinary Model S tackling the 12.42-mile race with 156 turns and a climb of 4,720 feet — no this Model S will be equipped with a smaller and lighter battery pack purpose built for tackling the Pikes Peak Highway. The car is being fielded by Braille Battery, with CEO Blake Fuller behind the wheel.
Normally the Model S would not be a good contestant for the Pikes Peak Climb. While its top speed of 155mph, blistering fast acceleration, and superior handling thanks to its low center of gravity would embue it well in a race, the car is also hilariously heavy at around 4,700 pounds and doesn't possess proper cooling systems to manage that kind of battery load for that long (an attempt to tackle the famous Nürburgring in Germany resulted in overheating and reduced performance halfway through the 12.9-mile lap).
That's where Braille Battery and Fuller come into play. They're not offering specifics just yet on how they've modified the Model S, but they willing to say that they've reduced the battery weight by 80%, which would be around a 1,000 pounds worth of weight savings. That's no small feat, though Braille Battery has experience in lightweight performance batteries — their tech is used on a much smaller scale in NASCAR, Indy Car, F1, and other racing series.
Fuller is chasing after the record in the Electric Production class, which sits at 12:55 minutes from a modified 2012 Honda Fit driven by Roy Richards in 2014. This Model S, thanks to its weight, will have a tough road to climb in reaching that finish line (pun totally intended), and almost certainly won't have the 9:07-minute record of the Electric Modified class set last year by Rhys Millen — a time that also won the event overall.
We'll know soon enough, however — the 2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is set for June 26, 2016.