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O’CONNELL: Another Run at Le Mans

Johnny O’Connell files his latest Sportscar365 column on his return to Le Mans…

Photo: Brian Cleary/

Photo: Brian Cleary/

There are a few moments in life that are special. Moments that you know will never fade. Racing at Le Mans is one of those special moments in life.

The spectacle of the entire world focusing on the challenge of running 24 hours flat out on an amazing circuit makes for an incredible atmosphere.

I last won there in 2009, and to this day, all I need do is close my eyes, and I can recall that last lap, hearing Dan Binks voice over the radio, fighting to hold back the emotions, the pride, of everyone that gave their all a special moment in my career.

It’s impossible to really put into words. And finally, I’m going back.

I race for Cadillac, and love showcasing to the world on the race track that Cadillac stands for performance, engineering and style. I can’t thank them enough for allowing me to take another run at Le Mans.

The same can be said for Jim Campbell (GM U.S. vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports) and Mark Kent (GM director of racing) who understand the significance of Le Mans and what it means to a driver.

Finally the folks at Corvette Racing who also have supported and helped along the way. Although I am no longer driving for them, I know we will always be family.

Journalists are funny in that I’ve been asked if I will be nervous having not been there for five years. If I had not been racing I most likely would be.

But the past five years we’ve had amazing racing in the Pirelli World Challenge series, competed against some of the best, and have no worries at all.

I spent 10 years racing Corvettes at Le Mans and of those 10, I stood podium eight times. I can only assume the C7 is a better car than the C5 and C6, and I am looking forward to getting acquainted with the new car.

This weekend we are running at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut to run the No. 3 Velocity Red Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe. Lime Rock holds a special place in my heart, it is the track that I saw my very first race when I was 7 years old.

It will be a special weekend as many of those working for Cadillac in New York will get their first chance to see the ATS-V.R Coupe compete and to see, feel and hear why racing is important to the brand.

Once that is done, we will turn our focus to Le Mans, and having an amazing Father’s Day in France.

As always, thanks everyone for the support. Still hungry.

Johnny O'Connell (@JohnnyOConnell1) is a three-time American Le Mans Series champion and four-time class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving for Team Cadillac in the Pirelli World Challenge.


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