Former Pirelli World Challenge GT Champion Andy Pilgrim says he can’t wait to return to series competition this year as part of Blackdog Speed Shop’s GTS SprintX driver lineup alongside Lawson Aschenbach in the team’s No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
After a stint with the factory Corvette program, Pilgrim made his mark racing primarily for Cadillac in PWC from 2004 to 2014 with a brief intermission with K-Pax Racing’s Volvo S60 effort in 2009 and 2010 before returning to Cadillac.
In addition to his 2005 title, Pilgrim amassed 12 wins and a trio of championship runner-up finishes in his PWC career.
After decades of racing primarily in North America, last year saw a break from the norm with Pilgrim doing the majority of his racing oversees in Creventic’s 24H Series and other international ventures.
The British-born driver said the chance to return to U.S.-based competition and return to the GM fold was as welcome as it was unexpected.
“I’ve been based in the States since the early 1980s and I became a U.S. citizen in 1998, and it had been over ten years since I had last done major international races,” Pilgrim told Sportscar365.
“Last year was kind of an anomaly and a lot of travel. This year, getting the call to run the Chevy in GTS, it was like, ‘Wow, I’d love to do that.’
“This opportunity just really came from nowhere and I’m so appreciative and so excited about it.”
Adding to the excitement is the opportunity to reunite with longstanding friends and colleagues in the form of Blackdog team owner Tony Gaples and drivers Lawson Aschenbach and Michael Cooper.
“Michael [Cooper] and I go back to 2012 when he was running in Mazdas, and I remember sitting at the side of the race track at Sonoma telling [Cadillac Racing program manager] Steve Cole, ‘This kid’s really good,'” he said.
“Lo and behold, he ends up with GM in the Cadillac ride and now he has other rides and is going to be a teammate.
“Lawson and I were teammates at Cadillac [in 2007], and I’ve known Tony Gaples forever and I love Tony.
“Tony and I go way back, [Blackdog team manager] Ray Sorenson knows what he’s doing and has done tremendous things with this team, there’s no negative here.
“And having a relationship with GM again, it’s been so good for me since the mid-1990s and even before then.”
Pilgrim is not a complete stranger to the SprintX format after making a one-off appearance in a Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R at Laguna Seca in 2016.
He said he has been following the series from afar and is excited to make his mark on a new era of PWC.
“I think the competition is certainly there,” he said. “World Challenge, from what what I remember and what I’ve read and seen, GTS in particular seems to be growing and the talent in GT has been at the highest level.
“Running with Lawson and Michael, who have been so succesful, I’ve got a serious job to do. I’ll be taking it very, very seriously and I’ve got to be fast and can’t make mistakes. That’s what we all say!
“The fewer mistakes and the fastest we can go without making mistakes is what I have to focus on. I know the race tracks, but I don’t know the competitors so I’m going to have to learn who I’m racing around.
“I’m going to do the best job I can to support Lawson.”