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Cadillac Drivers Reflect on PWC Legacy

Former Cadillac drivers reflect on manufacturer’s legacy in PWC…

Photo: Richard Prince/Cadillac

After seven drivers’ championships, five manufacturers’ titles, 33 wins and 121 podium finishes, Cadillac Racing’s has ended its involvement in Pirelli World Challenge after an 11-year run, leaving a significant legacy in the sprint race championship. 

Past and present Cadillac Racing drivers reflect on the decade-plus long program and its success in the series.

Johnny O’Connell:

“Having won four championships in seven years, I naturally have lots of amazing memories that Cadillac Racing achieved as a team. No championship was easy, and all but one came down to the last race.

“I remember the race in Houston, when Audi brought in Rene Rast to try to help win the championship. Needing a win for our Cadillac CTS-V.R, on a drying track we took the lead with two laps to go and wound up champions. That was special.

“With the Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe, in 2015, we burned a car to the ground at Barber then two weeks later won both races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the spare car that the team worked 24 hour days getting ready. We were successful because of everyone on the team and within Cadillac. 

“The Cadillac leadership of Mark Reuss, Johan DeNysschen, Jim Campbell, and Mark Kent provided the team with the tools needed to excel against the world’s top brands. The Cadillac Marketing team utilized our success on the track to promote and educate the world about the athleticism that is Cadillac and its V-Series.

“Our program managers Dave Leone, David Spitzer, David Caldwell, and Laura Klauser took what we learned on the track and built it into the production cars, in addition to serving as our representatives with World Challenge management.

“Finally, the day to day leadership of team manager Steve Cole; one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. The entire team at Cadillac Racing and Pratt and Miller. Each trophy, win and championship was the result of a collective effort. Sad to see the program take a break, grateful for all we achieved.”

Michael Cooper:

“My best memory with Cadillac Racing has to be the double win at Sonoma to close out the 2017 season. In the final race of the season, starting from the outside of the front row, I was able to make a move into the lead.

“For the rest of the race I would have to hold off a charging Patrick Long to bring home the victory, which I was able to do. 

“I was extremely proud to give all of the people in the team one final win. It was an incredible run to end the era of Cadillac Racing’s ATS-V.R in Pirelli World Challenge.”

Andy Pilgrim:

“One of my fondest memories of racing with Cadillac was the first race at Sebring in 2004. I realized my car had a dragging clutch before the standing start, so I chose to switch it off before the green flag and wait. After the green flag waved, I was thankfully not hit by any of the 50 cars behind me as they flew by. Realizing I had the dragging clutch meant I would have to somehow get the car rolling on the starter motor to have any chance of getting into the race.

“The start line at Sebring is on a totally flat piece of concrete, so I put the car in gear, then rolled it on the starter motor. As it was rolling, I quickly knocked it into neutral and fired up the engine. I then tried to bang it in second gear without the clutch, while still rolling. On the third try it worked and off I went.

“The rest of the race ended up in the history books as Max Angelelli won and I ended up in second place. A close second was winning the first championship for Cadillac in 2005. It was very special, especially doing it against such a strong, deep field.”

Max Angelelli:

“It is difficult to isolate one specific memory as I’ve had so many. But as you can imagine, the Sebring race win was special and if you think that I repeated that this year, debut a car and win the race, both times in a Cadillac and both times at an iconic venue, that was special.

“The team always made me feel at home. We had a great time and one of the best was at Road Atlanta in 2004 where I had to race with only one gear. I managed to finish third, a good day for manufacturer points.

“At the podium ceremony, I’d made a bet with my car engineer, Lynn Bishop, that he couldn’t drink the entire bottle of champagne in one go, and he did it!”

Ron Fellows:

“Getting the opportunity to race at my home track, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, in the early days of the Cadillac racing program is a special memory. I was able to get one of the first wins for the program at my home track so that stands out. Another one was at Long Beach.

“Racing through the streets of Long Beach is always fun. I was in a battle up until the end of the race. The Cadillac didn’t have the highest straight-line speed, but we handled and cornered really well.

“With two turns to go on the last lap I got a nice run on the Viper and passed him on the outside for the win at the end of the long back straight. Getting any kind of win at Long Beach is a big deal; that one in the Cadillac was fun.”

Lawson Aschenbach:

“My fondest memory with Cadillac Racing was my first win in the rain at Road Atlanta. Tough conditions and intense battles with my teammate, Ron Fellows, made for a great race. We had a year full of podiums, but lacked that all-important win. It was a proud moment and one of the biggest accomplishments in my career.

“The first time I drove the CTS-V.R I was blown away by the handling and drivability. Not only did the race car look good, it sounded awesome with that throaty V-8. It was also my first time working with Pratt & Miller, and I was impressed by the professionalism and dedication to win.

“Everything about the program showcased excellence, a word that embodies the brand.”

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. kv

    September 28, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    WITH PENSKE and yost in IMSA IN 2018 PRATT/MILLER and all the resources they have,must augment WTR and AXR RACING.WITH johnny O,Micheal Cooper and ,well developed 3.6tt v6,one more potent,prototype Cadillac can be fielded to the grid !

    • John Dagys

      September 28, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      Pratt & Miller is not involved with the Cadillac DPi program. Dallara runs it.

  2. Cheryl Santor

    September 28, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    I am disappointed the PWC Program for Cadillac is ending. We have followed the teams for the past eight years and have attended the races on the west coast each year. We followed the drivers careers and always looked forward to seeing them and having great interaction with them. A wonderful group of people we will sorely miss. Now where am I to take my CTS-V Wagon to a corral and show her off? Life changes are inevitable, this is one of the hardest ones we have to deal with.

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