Connect with us


O’CONNELL: Monterey Debrief

Johnny O’Connell files his final Sportscar365 column of 2016…

Photo: Richard Prince/Cadillac

Photo: Richard Prince/Cadillac

Longtime fans will remember about eight years ago when I drove for Corvette the last race of the year, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, my teammate Jan Magnussen and Patrick Long’s teammate Jörg Bergmeister found themselves in an epic battle.

That race ended with them going to victory lane, and us going to the hospital. Corvette fans were angry, Porsche fans ecstatic.

I’m confident no one on either team left the circuit in a positive place. Last laps can be intense.

This weekend, again at Laguna, I’m sure Cadillac fans were elated, Porsche fans not.

Patrick [Long] and I have discussed things, and for me that will remain between us. He’s a serious, fast and aggressive racer that wants to win. Just like every other driver that represents and drives for a team.

And just as eight years ago no one left the circuit in a good place, I know the same holds true for this year.

This year the Pirelli World Challenge series was intense! More top line drivers than ever before, as well as teams that really stepped up.

Cadillac welcomed in Michael Cooper, who in no time established to everyone that pays attention, that he is one seriously fast racer.

It’s been a real pleasure working with him, as each race we find ourselves working better and better together and pushing each other harder.

Cadillac Racing has always done an amazing job, overcame obstacles and met all challenges. Pirelli again continued to provide a great racing tire, and the folks at SCCA did their always incredible job of supporting and aiding the series.

Certainly a highlight of the year for me was watching my son Canaan take second place at Utah in TCB.

To be honest that was the first time I’ve watched an entire race there, and the action is nonstop with a lot of great racing. Fans should take notice and support that facility.

Sadly, not all was great this year, referencing the crash at Lime Rock that injured Andrew Palmer. He remains in all of our minds, hearts and prayers.

Fortunately Jorge De La Torre is back healed and driving again. It was great seeing his smiling face again last weekend in Monterey.

In closing, as always, thanks to all the fans that support World Challenge racing as well as Cadillac.

To get to meet and speak with fans, Cadillac enthusiasts and talk about their cars, to engage like you can’t do in any other sport is a blessing.

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.


More in Commentary