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Project White Lightning Update 2: Alignment & Driving Impressions of the Tesla’s New Suspension Upgrades

Any time you change struts (stock or otherwise), you’ll want to get the vehicle’s alignment checked. This will maintain proper handling and prevent premature tire wear. (Image/Summit Racing)

Whether it’s gas, diesel, or electric, Summit Racing’s going to find a way to hot rod every vehicle it gets its hands on.

So when Summit Racing introduced us to White Lightning a while back, we knew the performance modifications to its Tesla Model 3 would start soon.

You can get all the updates on Summit Racing’s Tesla Model 3 White Lightning here.

In the previous update, the White Lightning project team installed an Eibach Pro Kit with performance-tuned springs and a set of anti-roll bars. Now, Summit Racing’s Brian Nutter will give you his thoughts on the Tesla’s improved handling characteristics.

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With the Eibach Pro Kit installed, we wanted to get the car aligned for upcoming events.

Tesla Model 3s do not have camber or caster adjustment capability without going to a set of aftermarket control arms. Some folks will add them to optimize their alignment, but a great many will not. We want to document incremental gains so, for now, we are just going to set toe.

If we were only going to autocross the car, we’d go for a little toe out in the front and zero in the rear. The issue is we drive the car a lot and don’t want to wear out our sticky, soft BFGoodrich G-Force Rival S tires too quickly.

Plus, we plan to run the car at top speed. Any toe adds friction and reduces our number. So for right now, we’re just going for zero toe on all four corners and let camber/caster fall where it may.

Tesla Model 3 Alignment Specs

So how did we fare? Not great. Not terrible. But only getting -0.6 degrees of negative camber on the passenger front corner leaves us feeling hollow inside. We’re going to have to fix that later!

Here are White Lightning’s alignment specs, after Summit Racing installed the Eibach Pro Kit spring upgrade. (Image/Summit Racing)

Caster settled into 5.7 degrees on the driver side and 5.9 degrees on the passenger side.

Driving Impressions After the Tesla Model 3 Suspension Upgrade

You wouldn’t think that dropping the car an inch would make as big of a difference, but it DID!

The Model 3 was fairly sporty to begin with, but it’s beginning to feel a bit like an electric go-kart. These days a car is already short compared to all the trucks and SUVs on the road. Only now it feels even more so. No problem. The torque allows us to move through traffic like a game of Frogger!

We started off with the sway bars set to full stiffness—because this is a Summit Racing project car and that’s how we (don’t) roll. But we may dial some of this out in the future after further testing.

The ride is great. It’s not darty at speed. It doesn’t tram or pull or anything like that. On a closed course, we’ve done 145+ mph in the car and (other than the designed-in aerodynamic lightness), it’s happy at speed and takes little direction to keep it going straight.

Alignment done and the Tesla is now extremely nimble. Now on to another batch of upgrades. Stick around. (Image/Summit Racing)

What’s Next for the Tesla Model 3 White Lightning Project?

Back in April, we drove the car from Ohio to the ECTA Arkansas Standing Mile! We drove the car there and back, adding those aforementioned speed-rated BFG Rivals right before we left.

Another thing? Safety. We installed a prototype harness bar and harnesses. It’s AWESOME and really holds you in the seat now. It’s amazing how much better one can drive when their body mass isn’t being flung all over the car at over 1G.

Stay tuned, more updates on that stuff (and much more!) are coming.

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