Unlike the first collaboration between Radio Flyer and Tesla, the Tesla Model S for Kids, this one doesn’t have a built-in battery — it requires kid power to function. That means a lot more affordability, and makes it suitable for much younger kids. I might pick up one of these instead of just continuing to scrawl “Tesla” in block letters on the rear window of my 1998 Toyota Camry in grease pencil.

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The smallest member of the Tesla family lapped the famous circuit nearly a full second faster.

Last year, Tesla set impressive lap time records at Laguna Seca and the Nurburgring with a heavily modified Model S “Plaid” prototype, but a new Model 3 project from Unplugged Performance (UP) just broke one of those records in a big way. The SoCal Tesla tuning shop was testing its modified Model 3 as part of a warm-up to this year’s Pikes Peak, and accidentally ended up setting the four-door vehicle fastest lap record at Laguna Seca in the process.

Ben Schaffer, UP’s founder and CEO, told The Drive that the car went from a new delivery to the record-setting laps in under two weeks. He said there was no driving in between building and testing it on the track, which was done to help validate the quality and calibration of the Tesla parts that his company sells as bolt-ons.

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With test driver Randy Pobst behind the wheel, the UP-tuned Model 3 lapped Laguna Seca in just 1:35.79. That’s almost a full second faster than Tesla’s own Model S Plaid, which set the fastest lap record for four-door vehicles at the track in 2019 with a lap time of 1:36.55. It’s worth noting that the Plaid model that set the previous record was a prototype Tesla used to develop the reportedly-incoming Plaid variant, but not a final production unit.

Schaffer said that they were only trying to give the car a thorough shakedown to test safety equipment for its upcoming Pikes Peak run, and noted that everyone was shocked when Pobst put down the heat.

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After that, UP put a non-pro driver behind the wheel. He ended up beating the Tesla lap record, too, showing that the car can perform under any circumstances. Making the amateur run even more impressive is the fact that it was done on worn tires after it had been driven hard by Pobst and others.
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“Our expectations at Laguna Seca were simply to validate the car with Randy and to make sure we are safely dialed in for Pikes Peak,” said Schaffer. “It definitely shocked us all when we beat the time of the mighty Plaid Model S prototype in our Model 3,” also adding that UP still has lots to do before the car’s full potential is realized.
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