Turning Your Model 3 into a Challenge Car

So you’ve recently purchased a (new, or new to you) Model 3 and are looking to take the first steps into turning it into a Model 3 Challenge car? Perhaps you’ve decided that the economics of running your ICE race-car just don’t make sense, or maybe you’re dipping your toes into motorsports for the first time? This Guide will help you to take your first steps towards competition!

Brake Fluid

The weakest link of the Model 3 on-track in any variant are the brakes. For starters, the brake fluid is a standard DOT3 variant, and not up to the task of track abuse which can lead to the fluid boiling. The first thing we require is flushing the brake fluid with a DOT4 racing fluid.
Recommendations – ATE TYP 200, Motul RBF600/660, Castrol SRF, Endless RF-650, Pagid RBF.

Brake Pads/Rotors

Next, we’ll want to address the brake pads and rotors. The factory pads do not stand up well to the abuse of high-temperature operation, and the factory rotors do an inadequate job of venting air. This leads to the brakes overheating, which can cause an unexpected inability of the car to stop. For all models, we require upgrading the brake pads to ones rated for racetrack use. There are a number of options on the market for many budgets. As the non-Performance variants have smaller brakes, we do recommend upgrading the front discs to larger ones with more surface area from Mountain Pass Performance. For Performance variants, you may find that a simple pad upgrade is enough. However, MPP does offer rotor upgrades that improve airflow and thermal capacity.
Recommendations – Pagid Brake Pads, G-LOC Brake Pads, MPP Performance Rotors, MPP 365mm BBK

The Tires & Wheels

The factory tires range from borderline useless on the racetrack to somewhat capable. Regardless, the width is too narrow and you probably don’t want to be beating up on the tires you use for daily driving! The rules of the Challenge limit vehicles to 285mm of tire width. We’ve found 255mm to 285mm tire sizes to be competitive. We recommend the Bridgestone RE-71RS for all-out pace and the Kumho V730 for long-life and consistency. For the wheels, we recommend either an 18″ or 19″ variant with a width between 9.5 and 10.5 inches. Generally, the 9.5’s will fit without any further modification needed, while the 10.5’s will require additional camber. Don’t forget to spec your offset properly as well!
Recommendations – Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RS, Kumho Ecsta V730, MPP Mega Mesh Wheels

The Camber

From the factory, the Model 3 has very little camber and virtually no adjustability! If you’re looking to preserve tire life and improve lap times, camber will be one of the most effective methods of improvement. We recommend replacing the front upper control arms with the Mountain Pass Performance variant – the only approved method of front end camber adjustment. These arms will get you negative 3 degrees of camber or more – enough to preserve the outer edges of your tires. Easily swappable shims provide a convenient way of reducing camber when needed. The rear upper control arms can be replaced with the adjustable version from Mountain Pass Performance, providing quick and easy rear camber adjustment with tons of adjustability. We recommend between negative 2 and 2.5 degrees.
Recommendations – MPP Front Upper Control Arms, MPP Rear Camber Arms

The Suspension

If you’ve driven the Model 3 aggressively on the stock damper and spring combination, you’ve probably already realized that it is not made for performance driving. The dampers are too soft, they engage the bump stops constantly, and they inspire little confidence. Fortunately, the Challenge-approved Mountain Pass Performance Sports Coilovers look to resolve all of these issues without negatively impacting the ride quality of the vehicle.
Recommendations – MPP Sports Coilovers (RWD), MPP Sports Coilovers (AWD)

The Controller

If you’ve driven your Model 3 on the racetrack, or are looking to get into tracking your Model 3, it’s important to understand what we call “current limiting”. In essence, the high voltage battery in the Tesla Model 3 can only discharge so quickly over a certain period of time. To prevent damage to the battery, discharge rates become limited after some period of time, considerably limiting the power output of the vehicle. At full power, the Model 3 Performance can go into current limiting in less than 10 minutes of driving. To resolve this concern, and to keep all variants of the Model 3 competitive, Mountain Pass Performance developed the required power-limiting version of the Cooling Party Controller. This Controller limits power output on All-Wheel-Drive variants to 220kW, and the lighter Rear-Wheel-Drive variants slightly more. As a result, the vehicles are able to run full 15-minute Model 3 Challenge races without seeing significant power loss.
Required Component

HVIL External Disconnect

For competitors safety, and the safety of track workers and those around the vehicle, the required external high-voltage-interlock-loop disconnect allows the high voltage battery of the Model 3 to be safely isolated with a flip of the switch located on the windshield cowl of the Model 3. This switch is easily installed and helps to resolve concerns around batteries when placed on a racing surface.
Required Component (2017-2020) (2021+)

Track Time

All of the above being said, the best modification you can make to your Model 3 is more seat time! So start signing up for HPDE’s, Time Trials, and of course Model 3 Challenge events! Go show the world that electric vehicles are fast, fun, and cost-effective to run!