No Place Like Home for Team Cadillac at Mid-Ohio GM Support Gives Cadillac CTS-Vs a Home Field Advantage in Fourth Round of Speed GT LEXINGTON, Ohio -Team Cadillac's black CTS-V race cars have more in common with their production counterparts...
No Place Like Home for Team Cadillac at Mid-Ohio
GM Support Gives Cadillac CTS-Vs a Home Field Advantage in Fourth Round of Speed GT
LEXINGTON, Ohio -Team Cadillac's black CTS-V race cars have more in common with their production counterparts than hardware. People are another vital link between the street and racing versions of Cadillac's luxury performance sedan. That connection will be apparent at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when a trio of CTS-Vs compete in the fourth round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT on May 21.
John Heinricy, director of GM Performance Division and driver of the No. 12 CTS-V at Mid-Ohio, played a key role in the development of the street and racing versions. Also joining Team Cadillac at Mid-Ohio is Tim Taylor, an electrician at the GM Lansing Grand River assembly plant in Lansing, Mich., the birthplace of every CTS-V. Taylor won a weekend as a crewmember with Team Cadillac in a contest held at the plant.
Racing is not a new experience for Taylor, a member of UAW Local 652 and a 25-year GM employee. He has raced karts and been a member of short-track teams that campaigned Modifieds, sprint cars, and ARCA and ASA stock cars. Taylor also gained road racing experience with Paul Gentilozzi's Lansing-based SCCA Trans Am team.
"I'm pumped up about spending a race weekend with Team Cadillac," said Taylor. "My wife, Kim, and I are going to Mid-Ohio early because I don't want to miss a minute of the experience."
Team Cadillac's success has become a point of pride for the Lansing Grand River plant. Race car drivers Andy Pilgrim and Max Papis recently visited the facility, where they toured the assembly line, signed autographs, and thanked employees for providing a solid foundation for the racing program with the immensely capable production CTS-V. By weight, 73 percent of the race car is stock or derived from production parts, including the engine, the gearbox, the differential, the suspension and many other key components.
"We think of Mid-Ohio as our home track and we receive tremendous support there from GM executives, engineers, employees and friends," explained Dave Spitzer, GM Racing program manager for Team Cadillac. "We used GM facilities extensively in the design and construction of the CTS-V race cars. We also reached out to people throughout the GM organization to bring their expertise and knowledge to the Cadillac motorsports program. They've become part of our extended racing team, and we enjoy having them come to Mid-Ohio to see their cars on the track."
The 50-minute SPEED GT sprint race on the 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio circuit is also a homecoming for Cadillac driver Max Papis. The talented Italian drove for Columbus-based Team Rahal in the CART open-wheel series in 1999-2002, testing frequently at the scenic Ohio track.
"I made many friends in Columbus, so I'm excited about going back to Mid-Ohio," said Papis, winner of the preceding SPEED GT event race at Road Atlanta. "I did a lot of testing there with the CART car, and last year I won the Grand Am race at Mid-Ohio. That was the first time I stood on the podium at Mid-Ohio; my best finish there in CART was fourth."
Papis logged thousands of laps at Mid-Ohio in open-wheel cars, but the four-door CTS-Vs will be a new challenge.
"It's definitely going to be a different experience driving a GT on a track where I drove Indy cars before," Papis reported. "It almost feels like being on two different circuits because you have to change how you drive through the corners. My goal is still to get Cadillac another win at a track that I love. It reminds me of Donington Park in England, a beautiful arena were people sit on the grass and have a great time watching the race cars."
Cadillac driver Andy Pilgrim, second in the drivers championship after finishing as runner-up in a 1-2-3 Cadillac sweep at Road Atlanta, also relishes his return to a driver's circuit.
"I've won races at Mid-Ohio, and I've learned it's a track that rewards patience," Pilgrim noted. "You can stalk someone for lap after lap and wait for them to make a mistake, but if the cars are evenly matched, you're either going to finish second or make a low-percentage move to make something happen. It is a very technical track; if you get something wrong going into a series of turns, it stays wrong for a long time. Mid-Ohio doesn't play to Team Cadillac's strengths because it's a tight track with quick transitions. With the longest wheelbase in the GT class and a powerful small-block V-8 engine, my Cadillac prefers fast tracks - and so do I."
The SPEED GT race is scheduled to start at 5:35 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 21. It will be televised on SPEED Channel on May 28 at 4 p.m. EDT.
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