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.’

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. 

Related Videos

“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

This is what the fastest motorcycle in the world looks like now
Do you know what the world's fastest bike is?
2021 Kawasaki Ninja H2R

Modern motorcycles have been through several advancements in design, powertrains, and electronics over the past few years. This makes the current crop of bikes some of the fastest machines – even when you include cars – on the planet. Things have been picking up speed since the 1990s and some of the fastest motorcycles of all time are modern sportbikes. A lot of motorcycle manufacturers have been simply estimating the speed of their bikes since they can’t just ask a rider to test drive their bikes at top speed. 

The reason for why motorcycles are much quicker in a straight line than cars comes down to their power-to-weight ratio. A 500-pound motorcycle with 200 horsepower will offer a similar power-to-weight ratio as a supercar with four times the amount of power because there's a good chance that it weighs four times as much. Plus, without any doors, motorcycles have a greater sense of speed than cars, as 25 mph can feel like you're doing 100. 

Read more
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia brings haute fashion to cars
Rolls claims that the one-off is the most complex Phantom ever made
Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia side profile in a studio with purple swirling lines in the back.

Amid the electric vehicle revolution and the introduction of more semi-autonomous technology, automakers are eager to change their bios from traditional automakers to tech companies. Rolls-Royce, well, Rolls-Royce is different. While the iconic British marque has introduced its first EV with the Spectre, Rolls-Royce really does expand its reach beyond the world of cars as a luxury marque. Case in point, the latest vehicle from Rolls-Royce is the Phantom Syntopia. It was made in collaboration with Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen and blends the worlds of high fashion and cars.
You may not think that fashion and cars belong together, but the Syntopia certainly makes a case for more collaboration across the two industries. The Syntopia is very purple and is inspired by the concept of “weaving water.” The automaker, which has created some stunning vehicles over its extensive history, calls the Syntopia a “bespoke masterpiece.” Heavy words from a brand that’s known for going above and beyond with some of the most bespoke vehicles on sale. But we believe the company certainly went to great lengths to make the Syntopia, seeing as how it took Rolls-Royce four years to perfect.


Read more
The 8 fastest cars in the world right now
Find out who tops the list of fastest cars
Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ Coupe

Despite the push to make more fuel-efficient vehicles with smaller engines, automakers are using high-powered supercars to attempt to set new top speed records. Automakers have made large strides in aerodynamics and have found a way around emissions by keeping production of record-setting vehicles incredibly limited. Like lap records, top-speed runs are purely for bragging rights. There’s no incentive to having one of the fastest cars in the world beyond giving automakers the ability to say that they have one of the fastest cars in the world. It really is that simple.
World's fastest cars

Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+: 304 mph
Hennessey Venom F5: 301 mph*
SSC Tuatara: 295 mph
Koenigsegg Agera RS: 278 mph
Hennessey Venom GT: 270 mph
Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: 268 mph
SSC Ultimate Aero TT: 265 mph 
McLaren Speedtail: 250 mph*

Read more