Drag Racing Model S Videos

Jay Leno breaks the 1/4 mile world record in a Tesla Model S Plaid (video)


Jay Leno is one of the most celebrated car collectors in the automotive world and he loves Teslas. He attempted to break the quarter-mile world record back in June this year but the complete video was never released on the CNBC channel.

At the start of the video, Jay is seen driving towards the Famoso Raceway in his 2015 Tesla Model S P90D which he bought for $78,000 at the time. Model S P90D (90 kWh AWD) used to be Tesla’s flagship performance car until the automaker launched Model S P100D (100 kWh AWD Performance) in August 2016.

Jay Leno has kept his blue Model S P90D in a pristine condition as he brought it to the dragstrip for a side-by-side look at the evolution of this car. Tesla’s Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen joined him as he brought the latest Model S Plaid for a quarter-mile world record attempt for a production vehicle.

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2021 Tesla Model S Plaid (left)) and Jay Leno’s 2015 Tesla Model S P90D (right). Credits: Credits: Jay Leno’s Garage / CNBC.

We can see more than 5 years of the design evolution of the Tesla Model S in the picture above. Not only has it become prettier but more aerodynamic and looks more grounded with the latest smart adaptive suspension.

Franz explains that the new Model S has become a little bit wider and has better handling overall. Plaid also is Tri-Motor (2 in the back, 1 in the front), these carbon-sleeved motors are specially invented by Tesla for the new Model S and X Plaid variants.

Tri-Motor (AC permanent magnet synchronous motor, carbon-fiber-wrapped rotor, liquid-cooled, with variable frequency drive (1x motor in the front, 2x motors in the rear)

Exact specification of the Tesla Model S / X Plaid motors. Source: 2021 Tesla Model S owner’s manual.

“That just allows you to have constant power until you run out of room (end of the track) or run out of speed,” Franz explains the properties of the new Plaid motors. With the new heat pump and radiator infused into the Plaid vehicles, they are also exponentially better in thermodynamics management than the previous generation Model S/X cars.

This is the reason that Drag Times was able to get a great quarter-mile at 20% state-of-charge (SoC) and after 40 drag race attempts in a single night. This type of performance of the Model S Plaid is converting ICE supercar owners to convert as permanent Tesla owners. Like one Ferrari F8 owner, I found on Twitter who is selling his Ferrari to stick with his Model S Plaid.


With the 2021 Model S and X design refresh, Tesla has also revamped the interior of the car with new seats and 3 screens. The most polarizing design decision in the interior of the new Model S/X is the Yoke steering wheel.

“You can put your hands in the right driving position for spirited driving but it’s also great when you’re on Autopilot, and you don’t need this thing (a round steering) in the way,” Franz stated Tesla’s narrative on the yoke vs. a conventional steering wheel.

Quarter-mile Word Record

Following are the top quarter-mile record holder ICE supercars:

  • Bugatti Chiron Sport 9.4 secs
  • Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: 9.9 secs
  • Porsche 918 Spyder: 9.91 secs
  • McLaren P1: 10.25 secs

So, the Model S Plaid had to beat the time of 9.4 seconds to create a new quarter-mile world record. And it did, Model S Plaid driven by Jay Leno completed the quarter-mile in just 9.247 seconds — a new world record.

Related: Tesla Model S Plaid faces the 1,914 hp Rimac Nevera electric hypercar at the dragstrip (specs comparison, videos)

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Video: Tesla Model S Plaid making the new 1/4 mile world record.

By Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii