The Cybertruck vs Porsche 911 Drag Race, Tesla Didn’t Show You

Tran Hanh
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May 20, 2024

Elon Musk says a Tesla Cybertruck Beast towing a Porsche 911 is faster than a 911 alone. We reran the race to find the truth.

Eric TingwallWriterAmir SaidiPhotographerRyan LugoIllustratorMay 16, 2024

Back in December, Elon Musk released the Tesla Cybertruck into the world with an incredible claim: “It can tow a Porsche 911 across the quarter mile faster than the Porsche 911 can go by itself,” Musk said after showing a clip of his stainless-steel colossus towing a trailer and narrowly beating the iconic sports car down the dragstrip. Millions of people have already seen Tesla’s video, including you, probably.

It’s a great stunt to show off how unbelievably quick the 845-hp Cybertruck Beast is. At just 2.5 seconds to 60 mph in MotorTrend testing, Tesla’s three-motor electric truck beats every Corvette, every McLaren, and all but one Lamborghini that we’ve ever tested in the industry-benchmark acceleration test. That’s without a trailer, of course.

From the moment the words came out of Musk’s mouth, we were skeptical of Tesla’s towing/drag race video. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and while Tesla did show the full, unedited race from four angles, that wouldn’t stop the Porsche 911 driver—presumably a Tesla employee—from ensuring the Cybertruck won. If the race was as close as Tesla’s video suggested, a soft launch, a slow shift, or a slight lift of the accelerator in the Porsche could be the difference between a Tesla loss and a victory.

We’ve been fact-checking automakers and testing cars for 75 years at MotorTrend, and to believe Tesla’s claim we needed to not just see it with our own eyes but also drive it with our own feet and hands. So that’s what we’ve done. We rented a dragstrip, lined up two examples of the slowest new 911 you can buy, secured the same trailer that Tesla used, and borrowed Out of Spec’s 845-hp Tesla Cybertruck. Then we raced.

If you simply want to know who really wins this drag race, you can see it with your own eyes in the video above or scroll down to the results. For the sake of transparency, though, we’re showing all our work in this story. We also brought along Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained and Jordan Schiefer from Out of Spec, so you don’t only have to take our word about what happened.

The Race Setup

We approached our drag race with a scientific sense of curiosity. Regardless of which vehicle won, we wanted to understand how it nabbed the victory. We also gave the Cybertruck every possible advantage—within reason—since we assume Tesla also did the same.

That starts by racing against a 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T with a seven-speed manual transmission. This is the slowest new 911 you can buy today, but it’s hardly a dog. In prior MotorTrend tests, we’ve run the 379-hp stick-shift Carrera T to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.2 seconds at 116.4 mph. Per our usual test procedures, we raced the 911 with a full tank of gas.

Just like Tesla did, we hitched the Cybertruck to an ultralightweight Futura Club Sport aluminum trailer. Futura claims the Club Sport is the lightest car hauler on the market, and after weighing our trailer at 971 pounds, we believe it. That said, the single-axle Club Sport is designed to haul stripped-down race cars, not modern luxury sports cars. The trailer is only rated for a payload of 2,600 pounds, but the lightest Porsche 911 weighs around 3,200 pounds.

Futura representatives didn’t blink when we told them what we wanted to do. The company had full confidence in its product, as well as the Longway ZT501 light-truck tires (rated for 112 mph) installed on every Club Sport. We had Futura’s blessing to run the quarter mile to triple-digit speeds at 700 pounds over capacity.

We loaded the trailer with a second Porsche 911 Carrera T, this one with the PDK dual-clutch automatic and a curb weight 104 pounds higher than the manual-transmission car. To offset that difference, we went on a mileage run to use up most of the fuel then removed anything that wasn’t bolted down—floormats, the owner’s manuals, the tire inflator kit. We briefly debated taking out the front seats, but if you start disassembling the car, where do you draw the line? Should the engine come out, too? We agreed it would be disingenuous to run the race with a car that couldn’t be driven on and off the trailer. Plus, we had already pulled enough poundage out of the towed car to give Tesla the advantage. For our race, the 911 on the trailer weighed 35 pounds less than the 911 that lined up against the Cybertruck.

We carried our obsession with weight even further. The Cybertruck was driven by Engineering Explained’s Fenske, who, coming off a bachelor party in Mexico, weighed the heaviest he ever has at a feathery 156 pounds. The Porsche was driven by your author (testing director Eric Tingwall), who, coming off four years of child rearing, also weighed the heaviest he ever has at 196 pounds. Because no pebble went unweighed, those figures include the helmets we wore.

Our Cybertruck Beast, borrowed from Out of Spec, was firing on all cylinders. No, wait. Electrons? Motor windings? Whatever. Just two days before the drag race, this Beast beat Tesla’s advertised 2.6-second 0–60 time with a 2.5-second rip. And because electric vehicles can get slower as the battery depletes, we used MotorTrend’s long-term Ford F-150 Lightning to charge the Tesla between our morning drive to Famoso Dragstrip and before we started racing. When we launched it down the track for the first match with the 911, the battery showed 94 percent charge.

 2024 Tesla Cybertruck Beast2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T
Vehicle6,884 lb3,292 lb
Trailer971 lb
Payload3,257 lb
Driver156 lb196 lb
TOTAL11,268 lb3,488 lb

All in, our race pitted 11,268 pounds worth of stainless steel, aluminum, lithium, and bristling muscle propelled by 845 horsepower against 3,488 pounds of aluminum, carbon-spewing flat-six, and dad bod powered by 379 horsepower. The only thing left to do was race.

Here’s What Tesla Didn’t Show You

We ran six quarter-mile drag races, and each one had the same outcome: The Porsche 911 Carrera T wins and the Tesla Cybertruck Beast loses. In the world of drag racing, it’s not a particularly close race, either.

In the first heat, the Porsche ran 12.5 seconds at 115.6 mph, while the Tesla followed in 12.7 seconds at 105.2 mph. Over the next few runs, as the Porsche driver honed his launch, the 911 trimmed 0.3 second off the time. The Cybertruck only posted one quicker run, which amounted to a trivial 0.02-second improvement. If we cherry-pick the quickest Cybertruck run and the slowest 911 run—the best possible scenario for Tesla—the Beast still crosses the finish line 0.229 second behind the Porsche. (All results from our drag race have 1-foot rollout removed per drag-racing convention, but in the spirit of running an honest head-to-head race, we have not applied any weather correction.)

The chart below shows the quarter-mile times for all six runs, and if that’s not proof enough for you, check the photo gallery for the receipts—the official timeslips from Famoso Dragstrip.

Does the Cybertruck Even Win in the Eighth Mile?

A few weeks after Musk made the original quarter-mile claim, Fenske posted a video on his Engineering Explained YouTube channel revealing Tesla had only shown an eighth-mile race. Cybertruck lead engineer Wes Morrill responded by confirming that Tesla never actually ran the quarter-mile race, but he still backed up the original assertion. “The fastest 1/8mi CT hit while towing on the day was 7.808s at 88 mph and the trailer tires were only rated to 80 mph so we opted to call it a day before someone got hurt,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter. “Our simulations showed the full 1/4 mi race would be close but with the same net result, so no need to risk it.”

Morrill also claimed Tesla’s video didn’t show the Cybertruck’s quickest run. We’re not sure if that’s true, but we can say confidently that Tesla didn’t show the Porsche 911 Carrera T’s quickest possible run. In four out of six MotorTrend drag races, the Porsche 911 Carrera T beat the Cybertruck to the eighth-mile mark. Pitting the best runs against each other, the Porsche 911 Carrera T crosses the eighth mile in 7.9 seconds at 91.4 mph. The Cybertruck does it in 8.1 seconds at 86.7 mph.

Pitting the Best Run Against the Best Run

To get more detail than what the track timing system offers, we armed both cars with Racelogic Vbox Touch data loggers, which allow us to visualize what the race would have looked like if the Cybertruck and the 911 posted their best runs in the same heat.

The manual-transmission Carrera T has a 3,500-rpm limiter at standstill, and on a sticky, prepped drag strip, launching quickly requires getting off the line without letting the revs fall. Drop the clutch too fast, and the engine will bog, falling out of its powerband. It takes a slow, carefully modulated clutch release to get the perfect launch, which keeps the engine on boil and extracts a small amount of slip from the tires.

The Cybertruck launch, in contrast, is as simple as it gets. Put it in Beast mode, step on both pedals, wait a few seconds for the truck to squat on its air springs, then release the brake. With no turbo to reach full boost, no intake manifold to pressurize, no clutch to modulate, and a big, fat torque curve available from the jump, the Beast yanks hard even with 4,228 pounds hitched to its bumper.

The Cybertruck Beast would absolutely decimate the 911 Carrera T if it wasn’t saddled with the trailer. But in this drag race, the Tesla and the Porsche shoot off the line almost in unison. Acceleration peaks at 0.72 g for the Tesla versus 0.79 g in the Porsche once it’s making full power and the tires have hooked up. The Beast has the slightest advantage—a couple hundredths of a second—through the first 7 feet of the race until the Carrera T pulls even. Once the 911 edges ahead after 16 feet, the Tesla never leads again.

After 60 feet, the Cybertruck trails by 0.06 second. Even the slow, human-actuated shift from first to second gear at 44 mph and 91 feet into the race doesn’t give the single-speed electric Cybertruck a chance to catch up. It remains 4 feet behind the 911 the entire time the driver is lifting off the gas, pushing in the clutch, yanking the stick, and then clutching out and returning to the gas. That upshift into a higher gear ratio reduces the torque at the 911’s wheels, and for the next 1.5 seconds, the two vehicles accelerate in lockstep, the Porsche just slightly ahead. But as speed builds, the Cybertruck’s power starts to taper off and aerodynamic drag starts to take its toll. The claimed 0.34 drag coefficient makes the Cybertruck incredibly slippery for a pickup truck, but a much larger frontal area means the air works harder on the Tesla than the Porsche. The 911 starts to open the gap.

When the 911 reaches the eighth-mile mark, the Cybertruck is 22 feet behind and moving 4.8 mph slower. That lead nearly quadruples between the eighth-mile mark and the quarter-mile finish line. The Ruby Star Neo pink sports car reaches the finish line after 12.2 seconds at 116.4 mph, 85 feet ahead of the stainless-steel wedge. The Tesla stops the clock 0.555 second later.

Now You Know the Truth

No matter how you slice it, present it, or asterisk the claim, Tesla and Elon Musk’s big brag doesn’t hold up. There’s no scenario where the Tesla Cybertruck Beast pulls a fully functional Porsche 911 Carrera T across the quarter mile before the Porsche 911 Carrera T gets to the finish line.

Even if Tesla had originally disclosed it only staged an eighth-mile race, the video seen by customers, fans, and curious observers is highly misleading. Like Tesla, we recorded runs with the Cybertruck ahead of the 911 at the eighth mile, but that’s not enough for us to say the Tesla-911 train is quicker than the Porsche. Based on the best performances of both vehicles, the 911 is the quicker car, unless your race ends after 7 feet.

The race was a fantastic idea for a publicity stunt—and we’re not just saying that because MotorTrend did the same thing four years ago using a Tesla Model X P90D and an Alfa Romeo 4C Spider. But it was reckless for a corporation worth billions of dollars to make an unsubstantiated claim to millions of people without ever running the actual quarter-mile race. You have to pick the right foil for the tow vehicle to win. In this case, the Porsche 911 Carrera T is both too heavy and too quick for the Cybertruck to earn the victory.

Here’s the truth: A Tesla Cybertruck cannot tow a Porsche 911 Carrera T over a quarter mile quicker than the 911 Carrera T alone can run the race. Add it to the long list of broken Tesla promises.

Review : 4.7/10
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