Team Cadillac Drivers Bring Experience to the Streets of Long Beach for SPEED GT Race Fellows and Pilgrim Return to Grand Prix of Long Beach with New Cars and New Perspectives LONG BEACH, Calif. - When Team Cadillac drivers Ron Fellows and ...
Team Cadillac Drivers Bring Experience to the Streets of Long Beach for SPEED GT Race
Fellows and Pilgrim Return to Grand Prix of Long Beach with New Cars and New Perspectives
LONG BEACH, Calif. - When Team Cadillac drivers Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim take on the streets of Long Beach for the third round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT on April 9, it will seem like old times for these two championship-winning racers. More than a decade ago, both men raced on the old Long Beach circuit. Now they're returning to the scene of fast times with a pair of Cadillac CTS-V race cars and a new appreciation for Cadillac's commitment to performance.
Much has changed in the years since Fellows drove a Trans-Am Camaro and Pilgrim piloted a Lotus on the oceanside circuit - and not just the layout of the 1.968-mile course. Ten years ago, when Fellows last raced a thin-skinned, tube-framed Trans-Am machine in Long Beach, it might have seemed inconceivable that Cadillacs would one day be winning races and winning championships. Today the Long Beach circuit is a natural showcase for the capabilities of Team Cadillac's CTS-V race cars, which are based on the production CTS-V performance luxury sedan.
"I won there once, and I would like to do it again with Team Cadillac," said Fellows. "The Long Beach race has a great atmosphere, a fun event with big crowds. It's an event that has a rich history, held on a track that became the first successful street circuit in the U.S. It's become a fixture in international racing."
Fellows scored his lone Long Beach win in 1993 in the SCCA Trans-Am series, one of his 19 career Trans-Am victories. Since then the Canadian has earned a reputation as one of the most versatile drivers in motorsports, winning three American Le Mans Series GT1 drivers championships with Corvette Racing, scoring two class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and notching five victories in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck and Busch series. He's also tallied two World Challenge GT wins with Team Cadillac at Mosport International Raceway near his home in suburban Toronto.
"The last time I raced in Long Beach was in 1996 when I was driving Buz McCall's Sunoco Camaro in the Trans-Am series," Fellows recalled. "The course was quite different then - Turn 1 went right instead of left!"
Pilgrim also has fond memories of the Southern California circuit: "I love the Shoreline Drive straightaway," declared the defending World Challenge GT champion. "It does have a gradual curve, but we'll take it flat out in the Cadillacs.
"The last time I raced there in 1995, the course was bumpy going into the first turn, but now we turn left instead of right at the end of the straight, which is something I'll need to remember," he laughed. "The new section looks pretty tight, but the parts of the old track are a bit more open and hopefully I can make up some time there."
The Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark Team Cadillac's racing debut in car-crazy Southern California. It's the second of two back-to-back street races for Team Cadillac. On April 1, Johnny O'Connell finished as runner-up in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg driving a CTS-V, and Pilgrim was eighth. That performance gave Cadillac the lead in the SPEED GT manufacturers championship, and solidified Pilgrim's hold on second place in the drivers' standings after two of 10 rounds.
"We're excited about the SCCA World Challenge being part of the Grand Prix of Long Beach because Southern California is an important market for Cadillac," said Cadillac marketing manager Tim O'Neill. "It's an opportunity to showcase the performance of today's Cadillacs in a high-energy event that attracts thousands of fans. Cadillac's product renaissance has created strong momentum and earned the consideration of drivers who take performance seriously."
Cadillac will stage its second Champions Tour event in conjunction with the LBGP at Coast Cadillac in Long Beach on Thursday, April 6. Team Cadillac drivers and key personnel will introduce current and potential Cadillac customers to Cadillac's V-Series production models, a family of performance luxury vehicles that includes the CTS-V, STS-V and XLR-V, at the invitation-only event.
"Like any street race with very limited practice time, the Long Beach circuit is going to be a challenge, but we're up for it," said Team Cadillac program manager Dave Spitzer. "I believe that Team Cadillac has an advantage on any track where the World Challenge hasn't raced previously because we've got great engineers who can analyze the track and give us a head start on the car setups. We also have two terrific drivers who will give us the feedback that the engineering team and crew needs to get the CTS-Vs up to speed quickly in a very compressed time schedule."