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O’CONNELL: Barber Debrief

Cadillac’s Johnny O’Connell checks into Sportscar365 following Barber…

Photo: Richard Coburn/

Photo: Richard Coburn/

First off let me tell everybody I’m just fine.

It’s a funny thing, most drivers go their entire career without having to deal with fire. Unfortunately, I’ve been in five or six. Mega thanks to Stand 21 for once again keeping me safe with a great driver’s suit.

Our weekend at Barber Motorsports Park started tough and ended tougher. A big thanks to the guys at Cadillac Racing.

During qualifying we had an engine issue. If somebody would’ve told me that we would still make the race less than two hours away, I would’ve thought they were joking.

But the guys pulled off a miracle and changed the LF4.R engine, at the track, in 90-minutes. That is a testament to the team work of our crew guys at Cadillac Racing.

As a result of the engine change I had to start at the back of the grid in 27th. Everyone says you can’t pass at Barber.

Well, with motivation I was able to pass 23 cars and finish fourth. Sometimes your best drives are not the ones that result with you standing on the top step of the podium, but the one that has you hugging crew members for a job well done and a fourth place finish.

Sunday, well it didn’t go quite so well. As always my engineer, John Lankes, gave me a great Cadillac ATS-V.R.

I was having a great dice with Mike Skeen in his Audi. I’m just biding my time and waiting for a moment to pass. Then heading into Turn Five I saw flames, the fire happened very quickly.

There was a lot of fire in the cockpit, so I bailed out. I had to go back in and turn off the power and hit the extinguisher button.

Then I grabbed a couple of extinguishers off of the fire truck to help put the fire out. For a race car driver, there is no more helpless feeling than watching your race car burn.

Lucky for me I am a part of an amazing team. I know that the guys will do everything they can to have the car back together by Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in three weeks. I also know that I’ll be as hungry as ever to get that first win with the new Cadillac ATS-V.R.

Luck, it’s a funny thing. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it works against you. But, I’ve been here before and know how to get us back on track.

I promise you that first ATS-V.R win is coming soon. Thanks everyone one more time for all the great thoughts and well wishes. It means so much and I’m grateful for the awesome motivation.

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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