Team Cadillac Wins Long Beach SPEED GT Race Fellows Wins with Last-Lap Pass, Pilgrim Comes from Last to Seventh LONG BEACH, Calif., April 9, 2006 - Team Cadillac had its day in the sun at the Grand Prix of Long Beach as Ron Fellows won the SCCA...
Team Cadillac Wins Long Beach SPEED GT Race
Fellows Wins with Last-Lap Pass, Pilgrim Comes from Last to Seventh
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 9, 2006 - Team Cadillac had its day in the sun at the Grand Prix of Long Beach as Ron Fellows won the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT with a last-lap pass on the streets of this oceanside city. In his first appearance with Team Cadillac this season, Fellows took the win with an outside pass around race-leader Mike McCann's Viper in the ninth corner of the 11-turn temporary circuit.
Fellows notched his third career SPEED GT win with a .730-second margin of victory and gave Cadillac a five-point lead over Dodge in the manufacturers championship. Andy Pilgrim finished seventh after starting the race at the back of the field, and is third in the drivers championship after three of 10 rounds.
"That was good fun, and it shows that a Cadillac handles better than a Viper!" Fellows laughed. "There's no question that my experience here at Long Beach helped today. Mike blocked the inside, so I went to the outside. I could see how much rubber and grip there was out there, and I just gave it a shot. That was it. I might not have tried that if I'd never raced at Long Beach before.
"I had a great CTS-V race car today, thanks to the engineers and crew on Team Cadillac," said the Canadian road racing ace who won a Trans-Am race in Long Beach in 1993. "They gave me a really good setup, and the small-block V-8 was so smooth that I could manage my rear tires and save the brakes for the end of the race."
Andy Pilgrim drove his Cadillac CTS-V from the back of the 24-car starting field to a seventh-place finish after spinning on the pace lap. Per the series rules, Pilgrim had to start the race from the pit lane. He gained three spots on the first lap and four more on the second circuit. He moved into the top 10 on the eighth lap, and then picked up three more positions in the closing laps to take seventh.
"The spin on the pace lap was totally my fault," said the defending SPEED GT champion. "I gassed it just a little too much and the car made a lazy 90-degree turn and I couldn't get back in line. I put myself in a deep hole, and we were very fortunate to finish seventh.
"I had to work really hard and almost crashed the car 20 times," Pilgrim reported. "By the end of the race I could see fourth place coming back to us, but I couldn't get past Tomy Drissi's Corvette because he would just pull away from me on the straightaway. I could make up time in the technical sections, but didn't have anything for him on the straights."
The sun shined on Team Cadillac and a huge crowd that watched the SPEED GT series' inaugural race on the streets of Long Beach.
"We're thrilled that Team Cadillac won the first World Challenge race held in Long Beach," said program manager Dave Spitzer. "This event has a terrific heritage, and we're proud to have the opportunity to put on an exciting race for Southern California fans. We'll remember this one for a long time."
Fellows' victory marked the second straight podium finish by a guest driver with Team Cadillac. Johnny O'Connell, Fellows' Corvette Racing teammate, finished as runner-up last weekend in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
"The idea was to bring an all-star team of champions from the GM Racing family to help Cadillac win the manufacturers' title," explained Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing road racing group manager. "With Ron's experience at Long Beach, it made sense to put him in a Cadillac CTS-V for this race. That experience paid dividends today."
"After he finished second in St. Pete, Johnny told me that I had to do one better in Long Beach," Fellows recalled. "On that last lap, I was thinking, I'm not sure if I can do this or not."
He did, to the cheers of Southern California race fans.
Today's SPEED GT race in Long Beach will be televised tape-delayed on Sunday, April 16, at 2 p.m. ET on the SPEED Channel. The next event for Team Cadillac will be the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio on Saturday, May 21. That race will be televised tape-delayed on Saturday, May 27, at 5:30 p.m. ET on SPEED.