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Cadillac Back On Track: The CTS-V Coupe SCCA

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On: Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 12:37PM | By: John Welch

Cadillac Back On Track: The CTS-V Coupe SCCA

Cadillac has been here before. In 2000 General Motor's luxury arm commissioned Riley Technologies to build a chassis for Le Mans. Utilizing the then-popular World Sports Car prototype platform, Riley (named 'Riley and Scott' at the time) produced the Cadillac Northstar LMP. Modified by Nigel Stroud in 2001 and completely replaced by the purpose-built Cadillac LMP02 in 2002, the Northstar featured a very Audiesque 4.0 liter V8, complete with twin turbos and 90 liters of race gas.

None of these cars did very well in competition, failing to win anything, ever. Cadillac cut its losses at the end of 2002 and sat on their blemished laurels until 2004 when they decided to give GT racing a shot. Having just released the CTS-V, Cadillac saw an opportunity to use racing success as a marketing tool. What a novel idea.

No two ways about it, the CTS-V has always been a Badass. The street car was a breath of fresh air from Detroit. It had everything recent American cars were lacking: rear drive, third pedal, four doors, and slick styling. Love it or hate it, the styling turned heads. There were still plenty of old-Detroit issues such as flimsy-built quality, cheesy buttons, weird seating position, and that curve-free styling, but it was the coolest thing to come out of Michigan since Tim Allen. Who isn't all that cool.

Again employing Riley Technologies, Cadillac had a 73% stock-derived GT chassis built, slammed its 5.7 liter small block right against the firewall, and went racing. In 2005 they took the SCCA World Challenge title with ease; driver Andy Pilgrim never finishing lower than 10th in any race. He also didn't win any races, but that's neither here nor there; the CTS-V won two in 2004 and continued to win until the last customer cars was re-bodied in 2008.

Long story short: Cadillac has the thirst again. If their racing ventures get more serious with each attempt, and the last go at it was pretty serious, then this new CTS-V Coupe must be dead serious. Just look at it; the sheetmetal draped over the chassis and visually melting into the tarmac, the elegant endplates on the rear wing, the impossibly low front clip. This thing means business; pop inside the post to uncover its sporting credentials . . .

You see that Cadillac LMP02 sitting next to the stillborn Cadillac Cien? Right up there, above this text. Yeah, that thing was a total flop. GM cherry-picked which races they would run, and the car's development suffered for it. No track time meant no updates, and when you're staring down the barrel of the Audi R8 gun you need all the updates you can get. The LMP02 got none, so it was doomed from the very beginning. Cadillac learned a lesson or two there. Switching to sports cars they found a discipline that suited them better, fit into their marketing campaigns a little more easily. And they were successful, something GM seems to avoid outside the dumbed down world of stock cars.

Ahhhhh, that's better. The monsters you see tearing around Sebring here had to have almost constant performance adjustment because the Vipers, BMWs, Volovos, Porsches, Corvettes, Mustangs, and Aston Martins they were racing just couldn't keep up. By the end of its run the original CTS-V SCCA weighted almost 3,500 lbs. in race trim. When have you ever heard of any race car outside of NASCAR weigh more than 3,000 pounds?! Nearly 1,100 pounds of ballast was required so that the CTS-V didn't destroy all semblance of competition at SCCA World-Challenge races. Quite the race car, and with a little polishing, quite the road car as well.

The new for 2008 CTS addressed most of the issues the public had with the original. The angular styling was exaggerated in all the right places, turning many a nay-sayer into admirers. I love it, personally, especially in V-Series guise. Cadillac didn't screw around with the V-Series products this go around, dropping its hair-raising LSA supercharged babyeater into all flavors of CTS, sedan, coupe, and sport wagon. This car deserved a chance to prove itself under fire, but only one body style would make it to the race track—the startlingly mean Coupe.

Though the sedan is universally thought to be a well balanced design, some criticism has been leveled on the CTS Coupe, mostly regarding the slightly awkward, even 'frumpy' rear end. I sort of buy that line of thinking, but it doesn't taint my desire for the Coupe one iota. Hitting this distinctly American beast with the road race treatment has eliminated all visual misgivings for me; I think this thing is stunning. Pour over our image gallery, you will have a hard time finding something to gripe about; the CTS-V Coupe SCCA is a chilling reminder that GM is capable of designing mouthwatering products, when it wants to.

Now working with Pratt & Miller, the same company that builds and races the Corvette Racing C6.R (GT1) and C6.R ZR1 (GT2), Cadillac will field two of these Porsche Eaters in World-Challenge for 2011, driven by previous CaddyChamp Andy Pilgrim and a surprise get, Corvette Racing's Johnny O' Connell. K-Pax Racing and Randy Pobst aside, I don't think there is adequate competition for these guys in World-Challenge. This could, of course, be a total flop; it is a GM racing program, after all, but it could also be the beginning of a brand of domination that will require mandated weight addition just to keep the Caddys in the same area code as the cars they are racing. For us, the race watching and car buying public, the CTS-V Coupe SCCA gives us one more reason to tune into to one more racing series; 2011 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and varied race seasons in recent memory. It may be as good as 1989, 2007 or 2008, economic slump be damned!

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