By on March 20, 2015



Or No Go?

One item that came up often on TTAC’s request for feedback on Code Brown’s review concerned its range.  And while range anxiety is real for some, the P85D sports a 200+ mile range (253 according to Tesla’s website) which met my needs in a large metropolitan area.

But when I hit the road for The 24 Hours of LeMons, range anxiety was real.  

Let’s look at range anxiety logically: plan the trip and decide if Code Brown is the right vehicle.

  • Determine the charge before leaving: possibly irrelevant as there was a (not-free) charging station (photo above) next to my office, if I couldn’t make it to the first Supercharger in Huntsville for a top off…so to speak.
  • Find Tesla Superchargers: two on I-45 between Houston and Dallas, even though I hate fruitcake more than waiting 30-60 minutes to charge my late night ride for the trip to Decatur, TX.
    • I reached that Supercharger at 10 pm, two hours after the attached bakery closes. But there is a 24-hr Whataburger nearby!
  • Find local charging stations: Eagles Canyon Raceway (ECR) lacks 220V charging/RV hookup, ditto my hotel in Decatur. Even if I could get 110V charging, that’s slow enough to limit my work at LeMons (i.e. be late, not run errands, etc.) Since Decatur is 15 miles from the track with no public vehicle charging stations, this looks bad.
  • Plan for Weather: the heater is a serious battery drain and coldweatheris guaranteed. Especially if I used Code Brown as a Judgemobile to hunt cheaty racers in the paddock.

Or forget about this and hop in a gas-powered vehicle. You will fill it up at least once (5-10 minutes max), saving much time and effort.

While Code Brown’s brilliant traction control system manipulating all four wheels woulda maybe come in handy (even with wide all season tires) this was a bad idea. Turns out, everything in and around ECR was frozen solid.


A fine day for racin’…

There was 6-7″ of snow on Friday, which stopped all but a few cars from testing the track the day before the race. A few 4x4s enjoyed the free track time.


Ditto this super, uber, cheaty turbo DSM.  Mitsubishis tend to go explodey in endurance races, but this Eclipse now had a fighting chance.


Photo Courtesy:

Because of my not perfect health, I was ridiculously layered under my judicial robe. Getting dressed was exhausting, considering my evening run to WalMart in Decatur for proper work boots after my sneakers turned to cold and wet mush.

This was neither the time nor the place to deal with range anxiety and/or a trip to the nearest supercharger in Denton.

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Photo Courtesy:

It woulda been fun to drive Code Brown on ECR’s tight and complex track…maybe if I borrowed stole power from a racer’s generator/RV…

Not a bad idea, as I was changing the lineup for this race.


Photo Courtesy:

This super cheaty Mustang burned race fuel with a fantastic lopey cam: clearly an American Iron racer sneaking into LeMons.  This was a solid Class C (slowest) contender in the snow. Probably.

Granted, they’d self-destruct (i.e. tortoise-vs-hare driving) to the point they’d never have a snowball’s chance in hell…it’s still a Class A car.


196-10 - IKT26Ar

Photo Courtesy:

And this slow but surprisingly consistent Honda CVCC could be a Class A car given current conditions. Very tempting!


Photo Courtesy:

Such lemony cheating skills! The zip-tie snow chains made this early 60s Dodge Dart with Chrysler LH wheels appear worthy of what Mother Nature was dishin’ out.


Photo Courtesy:

Judging in these conditions was mind altering. Sadly the weather never improved enough to race. As the snow turned to slush, we took a few cars on the track to warm up the surface, more photos here. Wishful thinking: while the roads in and around Decatur were good, everything near ECR remained unplowed.

Many racers (relaxing in many RVs around the paddock) wanted a go, but seemed happy with the final decision.We tried, but it wasn’t in the cards.

FWIW, the LeMons crew used a rental V6 Dodge Charger, a late-model Fusion Hybrid, a new Jeep Cherokee and my Ranger (with 100+ lbs of ballast) as transportation. They all performed flawlessly, thanks to restrained drivers and sharp witted active handling nannies.  So do I regret not taking on the challenge of driving Code Brown to ECR?

Yes, but with a full-time job with regular office hours, a weak body recovering from Stevens-Johnson (less time recharging batteries, more time recharging the body) driving a Tesla in these conditions was foolish or perhaps dangerous. It remains a city car for me, unless I was visiting Dallas. No worries there.

There’s not enough infrastructure in parts of the flyover states for everyone to have everything. And with that, be ready for the rest of Code Brown’s review in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading, have a lovely weekend.


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14 Comments on “CODE BROWN! Range Anxiety and The 24 Hours of LeMons...”

  • avatar

    Thanks for the nice read. And I agree and posted this yesterday after the so called range relief news came out from the Master Con Musk “Banished” it by…including old tech on trip planning as part of the software for the car.
    Really? Trip planning software?
    The story goes on to explain this is not only no big deal, but it has been included in many cars, some electric, for awhile. And should have been part of the 100K car from its introduction.
    Pitiful. This should be illegal.

    • 0 avatar

      While I will grant that trip planning software is available for most vehicles with nav systems, there is a problem with them; getting timely updates of changes and issues along the route. Tesla may have an unrecognized advantage here by receiving updates as soon as they’re issued rather than waiting for a tech or owner to install them. This may not seem like much, but as Tesla continues to install its Supercharger stations, the trip planning software will be aware of them when the owner may not.

      Additionally, I have a question about charging in general that you lightly touched on but didn’t actively discuss: Is the Tesla capable of using the so-called ‘standard’ fast-charging stations by other brands and were any of those available along the route you were planning? Admittedly the fastest of them would have taken twice as long to charge the car to full, but it might have helped extend the range enough to make using ‘Code Brown’ more practical under better weather conditions.

      • 0 avatar

        I am 99% sure the charging station at the top of the photo was of the fast charging variety and that the plug I had in the trunk of Code Brown would work in it.

        • 0 avatar

          The adapter provided with every Model S for public charging is a J1772 adapter, good for 20-40 amps, similar to charging with the supplied cable and a 40amp / 240v outlet at home. There is now available as an accessory a Chademo adapter for public “fast charge” stations which use a direct DC charge similar to our Supercharger stations but not quite as fast. With the Chademo adapter you’ll charge at 120-140 amp .

  • avatar

    Bummer about the race. Running in the snow would have been interesting and really mixed up the dynamics of how these things usually go.

  • avatar

    So do you all just bail on the whole thing, or try and reschedule for another weekend in the not too distant future?

  • avatar

    Stevens Johnson? Hope you weren’t too sick before it was diagnosed. I’ve only seen it twice in 8 years at a busy ED. Get well soon.

  • avatar

    Zip-tie snow chains! This makes me want to go to one of these events (minus the snow) to see what people think of for their $500 cars. Duct tape maybe?

  • avatar

    Yay LeMons!

    Should’ve brought the Tesla for snownuts, dude. Towed it or whatever.


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