Unfortunately for Tesla drivers at last Sunday’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, weather problems forced them to contend with their cars’ clunky touch interfaces while racing. It turned out that aggregating all a car’s functions into a touchscreen is not very practical at times.
The 100th running of the PPIHC was made complex by thick fog running the full length of the course, sometimes restricting visibility to as little as 50 feet. While the race has paused for weather in the past, it never cleared up this year, coercing drivers to race through difficult conditions. This problem was common to all models. However, it was worse for the pair of Tesla Model S Plaid drivers, who, when their windshields fogged up, could not turn on their cars’ defrosters, which are activated through the touchscreen.
One of their drivers, Blake Fuller, told The Gazette that he struggled to use his car’s touchscreen while wearing gloves, all while battling bad weather on his way up the mountain.
“I felt like an older person trying to program a VCR in the middle of my run,” said Fuller, who wound up finishing 39th of 63 competitors. “It’s a combination of pressing the buttons and scrolling wheels. It’s like juggling, and I don’t juggle well.”
The same problem plagued was faced by Randy Pobst in a heavily modified Plaid nicknamed “Dark Helmet.” Rather than fiddle with the touchscreen, Pobst loosened his belts to wipe the windshield with the back of his hand. It was a risky move for a race that saw several cars slip off the racing surface, most of which did not return to the race unscathed.
Pobst previously had his Tesla Model S Plaid modified to remove race-inappropriate components, like the Plaid’s infamous yoke steering wheel, which he replaced with a traditional wheel. Tesla needs to pay attention before people become aversive to its modern but impractical and unreliable features.