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Tesla’s Elon Musk Challenged to Run Baja 1000 in Cybertruck

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  • In the past week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been challenged in two interesting ways on Twitter.
  • In one instance, Comma.ai founder George Hotz used Twitter to wager that Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) software will not have achieved full (Level 5) autonomy by January 2022.
  • The second dare was from Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, to race the Cybertruck against the hydrogen-powered Boot in the 2023 Baja 1000. Musk has not agreed to either challenge.

    When your personal Twitter feed is the main source of news and information for your company, it’s likely that you’ll receive some odd requests or messages sent to your account. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has discovered (and perhaps encouraged) that. In addition to the usual requests for new features by Tesla owners and the usual rants, Musk has been challenged to a race by Jim Glickenhaus, owner of boutique automaker Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, while Comma.ai founder George Hotz proposed a wager that Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software will not reach Level 5 fully autonomous driving by January 2022.

    Musk responded to the founder of Comma.ai, which makes a driver assistance add-on for vehicles. Hotz has long been a fan of the Tesla CEO and on several occasions has stated that he believes Tesla will win the race to full autonomy. In fact, while offering up the $10,000 wager that Tesla’s vehicles won’t get to Level 5 in the next 12 months, he said, “We think you’ll win, but not that fast.” Level 5 autonomy means a vehicle can operate on any road and in any conditions that a human driver could negotiate, but without any interaction from the human in the vehicle.

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    Musk’s reply did not exactly accept the wager, but he did state: “Tesla Full Self-Driving will work at a safety level well above that of the average driver this year, of that I am confident. Can’t speak for regulators though.” That was enough for the Comma.ai account to post, “I’m fine with that as the bet. We’ll buy a Model 3 with FSD. I’ll supervise it driving me around for a month next January, no disengagement you win, any safety disengagement or user action required to get to destination we win. Will post video proof to claim. Deal?”

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    When contacted by Car and Driver and asked whether or not Musk had privately accepted the wager, Hotz told us, “Sadly, no, he didn’t reply to our follow-up tweet with details.”

    Hotz said he believes that Tesla will have Level 5 autonomy “sometime this decade.” When asked why he thought it would take that long, he responded, “LOL, ’cause it’s really hard.”

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    In addition to forgoing gambling, the Tesla CEO also seems to be skipping out on a potential race. Last week, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus owner Jim Glickenhaus threw down the off-roading gauntlet via Twitter. Glickenhaus used Musk’s statement that hydrogen fuel-cell technology is “mind-boggling stupid” as a jumping-off point to challenge Tesla to race in the 2023 Baja 1000. Tesla would bring the Cybertruck and Glickenhaus would bring a hydrogen-powered Boot on-/off-road beast. We had a chance to drive the V-8 version of the Boot back in 2019, and we were impressed.

    Musk didn’t respond at all on Twitter to the challenge. When asked by Car and Driver if he had heard from the Tesla CEO, Jim Glickenhaus said, “Nope.”

    As for the reasoning for the challenge, managing director (and son of Jim) Jesse Glickenhaus told C/D that he has tremendous respect for Musk and his companies and admitted that the family owns a few Teslas. But they’re not exactly built for the type of driving Glickenhaus is looking for. “We, on the other hand, build cars for driving, where driving is the point. It is about the drive, not the destination: the pleasure of the experience of interacting viscerally with a mechanical object, feeling, hearing, and smelling the physics,” he told us.

    The younger Glickenhaus said they chose the Baja 1000 because it’s the “toughest endurance race in the world.” The crux of their argument that hydrogen fuel cells are superior to battery-electric vehicles is that today’s battery technology has limitations: they’re heavy, prone to loss of range in cold weather, and there’s the recharge time. “If electric battery vehicles cannot compete against gasoline-powered vehicles in the most extreme racing environments—the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Baja 1000—then they cannot compete against gasoline engines in the most extreme uses, many of which are the most polluting,” Jesse Glickenhaus said.

    Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus wants to build a hydrogen Boot to show that the powertrain can compete with gas-powered vehicles, part of a sweeping plan to use hydrogen power to “change the world and leave it in a better state for all our children than it is today” without sacrificing extreme driving.

    “I have no idea whether Musk will accept our challenge. My guess is he will not, because he knows, despite his public railing against fuel cells, that hydrogen is better suited than current batteries for the most extreme environments,” Glickenhaus said.

    If the CEO does follow through with accepting either challenge, it opens the door to even more online provocations meant to put Tesla’s money and technology where its, or at least Musk’s, mouth is. But if for some reason he does decide to settle these issues publicly, a Cybertruck vs. hydrogen-powered Boot race in 2023 is going to be one to watch.

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