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Black Hills Tesla Rally Inspired By Elon Musk Visit

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PBS
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Teslas, the cars known for being electric, are not common in South Dakota.  

But this weekend, a record number of them are converging on a small town in the Black Hills.  

And it’s all because of a chance encounter with Tesla’s CEO. 

Custer is a tourist town near Mount Rushmore. But this weekend’s visitors are not there just for the carved rock. They’re meeting up to celebrate electric cars.  

Custer is hosting its seventh annual Tesla Road Trip Rally. More than 80 Teslas are on their way, which is a record for the event. 

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dolsee Davenport says the seed for the event was planted a decade ago. Tesla CEO Elon Musk got stranded in Custer with his own electric car. 

“Back in 2011 you know, there weren’t a lot of charging stations in the country just in general.” 

He was driving through and could not find a charging station. Thankfully, previous Chamber of Commerce leader Dave Ressler found a way for Musk to charge his car. After that incident, Davenport says Musk decided to help Custer.  

“He decided we need to have more charging stations in the area. And of course knowing this is a tourist area, he said you know that he wanted to get some charging stations here and that’s kind of how we got those first initial 22 charging stations here was because of his mishap that landed him here in Custer that night.” 

Soon the idea for the Tesla Road Trip Rally was born. The event is Friday through Sunday.  Teslas are on display Friday evening from 5 to 7 at Mount Rushmore Brewing Company.