Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Rick Vesco and ‘Little Giant’ Team Sets EV Speed Record on Salt Flats

Team Vesco and the 'Little Giant.'
Team Vesco and the ‘Little Giant.’ Image used with permission by copyright holder

What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven? 100 mph? 120 mph? Now almost triple that and check out the live, driver’s eye view of what 353 mph looks like from driver Eric Vitter’s perspective as he ripped across salt flats in what’s essentially an electric rocket car. Kind of exhilarating and scary at the same time, right? 

Earlier this month, Ritter piloted the Team Vesco-built streamliner Little Giant into the record books. Built by team owner Rick Vesco and Eddy Borysewicz, with significant contributions from American Track Roadster’s Greg Peek and engineer Trenton Wonsley, the Tesla Model-S modified twin motor streamliner crushed the previous 314 mph EV record. Motoring across Utah’s barren Bonneville Salt Flats, the team provided another example in a growing body of evidence showing that speed and power are not the sole domain of petroleum-powered engines. 

“Borysewicz learned about not being afraid to do something that has never been done when he loaded in 1,152 prismatic lithium ion batteries and heavily modified (a) pair of Tesla motors,” a news release noted.  

We live in a day and age where electric vehicles are gaining ground and market share on gas-guzzling engines. Environmental consciousness in concert with quality cars have green bills flowing in and new, massive investment from GM, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Porsche, and other car companies follow Tesla’s carving out of the EV niche. This consumer EV acceptance is now making its way to true gearheads. 

“It reminds me of the early days of 1930s and 1940s with piston head engines,” Vesco said in a phone conversation.

Related Guides

Revolt Systems, inspired by the 1965 Ford Mustang, has helped to pave the way for crate motors, like its Model S-based kit, to bring unprecedented power to classic cars without losing vintage character. This work led the Portland, Oregon-based company to successfully engineer a twin motor setup for Team Vesco at Bonneville. 

“We actually worked with Eddie B’s dad on electric bikes. That’s where that connection came from,” Vesco said.

Rick Vesco grew up watching his father Don fly rocket streamliners across the white, salten earth. At the Bonneville Nationals Inc. World Finals time trials on Oct. 18, 2001, the elder Vesco set a land speed record of 458 mph for wheel-driven cars in “The Turbinator,” a stock, 3,750 horsepower at 16,000 rpm internal combustion engine. Prior to the event, Don had set three consecutive national records in excess of 400 mph. Now, just two decades later, son Rick is embracing the electric revolution. 

“We are excited about the future of electric vehicles and happy to be a part of shattering the notion that electric cars are slow,” Vesco said after the Vesco 444 reVolt Systems streamliner set the EV speed record.

While its records are not yet equal to combustible engine-driven rock cars, Revolt’s highly-modified Model S motors crank out approximately 533 horsepower and more than 800 pound-feet of torque that comes on instantly, as opposed to a gas motor that needs to rev up. With the 350-mph barrier broken, the team aims for 400 mph next.

“What an incredible ride,” driver Ritter said. “The torque off the starting line — it’s a monster. It bolts without hesitation and keeps pulling, non-stop. With the 357 mph top speed, 400 is now a reality (and) no longer just a dream.” 

Commercial airplanes cruise at about 547–575 mph. Imagine piloting that jet on land. And make sure that you’ve got a good three miles to stop. 

Read More: Lamborghini Revives the Countach in an Electrified Hypercar

Editors' Recommendations

Matthew Denis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
Survey: Auto execs aren’t as confident as they used to be about EV adoption
Auto executives believe high car prices, a possible recession, and supply chain issues are to blame
Tesla Model 3s charging outside of a work building in a parking lot.

Automakers may be coming out with electric vehicles, but the people running the brands aren’t confident that electric cars will catch on. In a recent global auto survey by KPMG, global automotive executives expressed concern over the rate of EV adoption compared to last year, citing economic concern and continued supply chain problems.
Roughly 900 automotive executives (more than 200 respondents were CEOs and an additional 200 were C-level executives) took part in KPMPG’s annual auto survey. the majority of respondents, 76%, expressed concerns of how high interest rates and inflation will adversely affect their business next year. For auto executives in the U.S., the figure was higher at 84%. One of the major concerns that auto executives have is the adoption of electric vehicles in the U.S. and globally by 2030.

Last year, KPMG’s survey revealed that estimates of new electric cars being sold by 2030 ranged from 20% to 70%. This year, the figure ranged from 10% to 40%. The median expectation for EV sales in the U.S. were that they would represent 35% of new vehicle sales. This figure is well below what it was from last year when it was 65% and is far less than the Biden administration’s goal of having EVs account for 50% of new car sales by 2030.
Automotive executives are less optimistic about the adoption of electric vehicles this year for a few reasons. In the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act made large changes to the EV federal tax credit. Stricter price caps are in place for EVs, and electric cars have to meet ludicrous requirements for battery components, final assembly points, and critical components. These requirements have drastically reduced the number of EVs that are eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. Other reasons include the high prices of vehicles, rising prices for battery components and raw materials, fears of a recession, and supply chain constraints.
Gary Silberg, KPMG global head of automotive, told CNBC that long-term optimism for EVs still exists, but automakers and automotive executives are starting to become more realistic.“There’s still a sense of optimism long term, and yet, most important, there’s a sense of realism in the near term. You see this realism throughout the entire survey,” said Silberg. “You can be long-term optimistic, but near term, you’ve got to be very realistic. It’s not rainbows and butterflies and euphoria anymore, it’s game on.”
Unsurprisingly, executives that took part in the survey believe that Tesla will continue to be a global leader in EVs, though its lead over traditional brands is expected to shrink. What is surprising is that executives believe that Apple will be a market leader in EVs in the very near future. While Apple has reportedly been working on an EV for years, it hasn’t showcased anything concrete. Audi and BMW followed closely behind Tesla as automakers that will lead the EV car market in 2030.

Read more
BMW unveils Dee, a EV concept car for the future
At CES 2023, BMW offers a glimpse of its plans for the future of EVs
bmw dee ev concept car ces 2023

At CES 2023, BMW unveiled Dee, a concept car foreshadowing the direction BMW is headed as the auto industry eases into a fully electric future. With more auto manufacturers electrifying their lineup and creating more EVs than ever, BMW’s Dee also addresses the elephant in the room.

Acronymous for “Digital Emotional Experience,” Dee is a svelte sedan that looks like it would glide down a highway effortlessly. Outside, Dee is laden with e-ink strips along the lower part of the windows that are meant to provide signals to those outside. In Dee’s world, you may approach your car, and the e-ink display would welcome you by name and perhaps let you know it had received the directions you forwarded Dee on your iPhone while you wrapped up lunch at the restaurant.

Read more
A golf cart manufacturer may have just made your new favorite EV — the CRU Car
The CRU Car is the perfect EV for getting around your neighborhood
cru car ev nev club

Think about how you use your vehicle. For most, it’s a lot of short commutes and shuttling people around. Those without a vehicle to get around might not see the purpose in owning a highway-ready hauler for jaunts around town. CRU, the latest offering from established golf cart manufacturer Club Car, may be able to do everything most of us want a vehicle to do, particularly an entry-level EV.

CRU is a NEV (neighborhood electric vehicle), much like a stretched golf cart. It’s not focused on toting golf bags around while you angrily drive to your latest sliced drive sitting dozens of yards off the fairway. Instead, CRU is meant for hauling people and groceries and is designed to be customizable. Its base configuration is a bit limousine-like, with an L-shaped bench in the rear of the vehicle and two seats up front. There’s an optional table in the back, and the front passenger seat can swivel around to face those sitting in the back. The CRU’s rear seating compartment is only open on one side – the right curb-facing side – for a few unique reasons.

Read more