Tesla Driller (copy)

Spectators watch Wednesday at Expo Square as the Golden Driller’s Tesla face-lift is revealed. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World

Tulsa for Tesla seems to be everywhere these days.

In just one week, the loose-knit association of community leaders, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and government entities has turned the Golden Driller into a Tesla tribute and produced three videos capturing the city’s enthusiasm for a potential partnership with the electric vehicle manufacturer.

“I am so excited that so many people have come out and shown their support for Tesla,” said County Commissioner Karen Keith.

Keith, who sits on the county authority that oversees operations at Expo Square, said she didn’t hesitate for a moment when asked if the Driller could be given a temporary face-lift. Within in a few days, the iconic statue had “TESLA,” the company’s logo and Elon Musk’s face painted on it.

“I just think it (TESLA) fits with Green Country, it fits with everything we are in Tulsa,” Keith said. “It’s just perfect.”

The Associated Press reported a week ago that Tulsa and Austin, Texas, were finalists for Tesla’s new Cybertruck Gigafactory. And while local government leaders have not confirmed the report, they’ve done nothing to knock it down, either.

Mayor G.T. Bynum took part in the official unveiling of the re-envisioned Golden Driller on Wednesday and plays a starring role — including a slow-motion shot of him exiting the Tesla he arrived in — in the Tulsa for Tesla video of the event.

But the real stars of that video and a separate one showcasing Teslas cruising past other Tulsa attractions are the cars themselves. And Tesla Owners Club of Oklahoma.

Club President Sandy Truong said she learned of Tesla for Tulsa through a Facebook post from a local innovation company looking for Teslas that could be used in the videos and the Tulsa Driller event.

The response was strong, with more than three dozen Tesla owners from all over the state parking their cars at the feet of Golden Driller on Wednesday. The video showing Teslas passing other Tulsa landmarks was taped earlier in the day.

“I don’t know that we were ever this active,” said Truong, who lives in Oklahoma City. “We have something exciting for both cities, and it really merges those cities. There were a lot of Oklahoma City folks, too, that were like, ‘I will drive to Tulsa to be part of this.’”

Tony Moore, executive director of Gathering Place, worked with Retrospec Films to create the videos of the Tulsa Driller event and the Teslas cruising through town. The local company has created videos for Gathering Place.

Moore said he loves videos and he loves cars, so he was happy to contribute to the Tulsa for Tesla effort. And he knew Retrospec would get it right.

“They are awesome guys to work with,” Moore said. “They get it. They are loyal, and when they understood this opportunity, it was like, ‘Hey, man. I’m in.’ ”

The third video, which was released on social media on Friday, was the work of Tulsa Remote Executive Director Aaron Bolzle and Lyndon Alvarez, owner of Buddy FX.

Tulsa Remote, like Gathering Place, was created by the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

Tulsa Remote offers people $10,000 if they agree to spend a year in Tulsa. The response has been overwhelming, with more than 10,000 people applying in the first 24 hours the program was launched in 2018.

Bolzle said he made the video because he thought it was important to have some of those people be part of what he described as a unified community effort to show Tulsa’s support for the Tesla project.

“The people that have come through Tulsa Remote, it is not just that they are excited to be in the city, they have invested in the community,” he said. “And they are invested in the future of Tulsa, and because of that they see how big of an impact Tesla coming to Tulsa could be.”

Video: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and others unveil the Golden Drillers new look, talk about Tesla.

Tulsa vs. Austin: A look at the stats.

Kevin Canfield




Twitter: @aWorldofKC

Staff Writer

Kevin Canfield has covered local government in Tulsa for nearly two decades. He also has reported on downtown development, zoning and community planning.

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