TEAM NEWS: Cadillac to Return to Its Racing Roots at Historic Watkins Glen International; Home of American Road Racing to Host Fifth Round of SPEED GT

Photo by John Thawley WATKINS GLEN, N.Y - When the rebirth of American road racing after World War II began in earnest in Watkins Glen, the Cadillac V-8 was the engine to beat on the streets and roads surrounding the quiet village in rural New York. Following the introduction of the Cadillac overhead valve V-8 in 1949, Cadillac-powered Allard J2 and J2X sports cars became frontrunners in the early '50s as crowds of enthusiasts flocked to America's road racing revival. Team Cadillac will return to its racing roots when the fifth round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT series is contested on the historic Watkins Glen International circuit on June 10.

The Cadillac CTS-V performance luxury sedans that will race on the Watkins Glen permanent circuit are a far cry from the vintage machines that raced on country roads more than 50 years ago. Based on the production CTS-V, the Cadillac race cars began life on the production line at the GM Lansing (Mich.) Grand River assembly plant. Prepared for competition with roll cages, safety equipment, composite body panels and an aerodynamic rear wing, the Team Cadillac race cars are powered by fuel-injected 6.0-liter GM small-block V-8 engines.

Cadillac driver Andy Pilgrim also has a winning heritage at the historic road course. The 2005 SPEED GT champion has raced at The Glen 25 times in six series since 1986. He has three victories, 11 podium finishes, and four poles - and only twice has he finished outside of the top 10. Fresh from a victory on the modified oval at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., on May 24, Pilgrim relishes returning to one of his favorite road courses.

"I just love fast tracks, and Watkins Glen is a very fast track," said Pilgrim. "It's a great race track, one of my favorites in North America. It reminds me of an English or German circuit because the course is lined with trees and it frequently rains there. Watkins Glen is a simply wonderful race track."

While Pilgrim has more than 20 years of experience at Watkins Glen, his teammate, Lawson Aschenbach, will be racing there for the first time. The 23-year-old 2006 SPEED GT champion is confident that he'll get up to speed quickly on the 3.4-mile circuit.

"I'll prepare by watching in-car videos from other series, and I'll follow Andy around for a couple of laps in the first practice session," Aschenbach reported. "The same principles apply at every track: Brake as late as you can, carry as much speed as you can through the corners, and accelerate as quickly as possible. I'm confident my Cadillac will have a good setup there because we have a great team of engineers and mechanics.

"The history of a track is something I think about before going to a new circuit, but when I arrive, it's just about that race," he continued. "It's like any other weekend at the track - I just want to bring home a checkered flag for Team Cadillac."

Without a notebook filled with information from previous SPEED GT events at Watkins Glen, the Team Cadillac engineering staff will rely on their arsenal of high-tech tools to develop a pre-race setup.

"We have data from other GM road racing programs that have run at Watkins Glen that we can use a baseline and a starting point for our simulations," explained Team Cadillac race operations manager Ken Flory. "Watkins Glen is one of the smoothest tracks that the SPEED GT series races on, so we should be able to run our cars stiff and low. Fast, sweeping circuits like Watkins Glen tend to suit the Cadillac race cars better than slow, tight tracks, but the elevation changes at The Glen will be a challenge because of the extra weight that the series requires the Cadillacs to carry."

The fifth round of the SPEED GT is scheduled to start at 10:20 a.m. EDT on Sunday, June 10. The race will be televised tape-delayed on Saturday, June 30 at 4 p.m. EDT on the SPEED Channel.


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