I’m an unapologetic fan of the Cadillac ATS-V.R GT3-spec racer. It’s my favorite car on the Pirelli World Challenge grid, partly because I like the street ATS-V and partly because American racecars running against vastly more expensive European competitors is one of our proudest traditions. (Also, that batshit crazy Acura TLX. That thing is cool too.)
PWC is also racing at Mid-Ohio this weekend alongside IndyCar. Their second race is happening right now if you manage to catch it. It’s the first year Cadillac Racing has run the ATS-V.R, replacing the venerable old V8-powered CTS-V.R from previous seasons.
While yesterday was a bit disappointing with a fourth place finish for driver Johnny O’Connell and with Andy Pilgrim getting punted into a sand trap by a Bentley, they’re still third overall for team points. Hopefully today will be better.
But before that I got a chance to chat with Cadillac Racing program manager David Caldwell about the car and what makes it such an interesting machine, and what makes it worthy of running against Ferraris, 911s and various other supercars. (And the TLX.)
Since it’s a GT3-spec car it actually has more in common with a roadgoing ATS-V than you think. The ATS-V.R uses the same basic LF4 3.6-liter twin turbo V6 block as the ATS-V, just thoroughly worked over for race duty. It probably would have been easier if they could have thrown the proven LS V8 under the hood, since we know it will fit, but where’s the fun in that? Instead working from the turbo V6 presented unique challenges for racing engineers.
According to Cadillac the LF4.R packs bigger twin BorgWarner turbos, larger intercoolers and a side exhaust. Caldwell told me power is variable depending on conditions but Cadillac rates it up to 600 horsepower, and it’s around 3100 pounds with a near 50-50 weight distribution thanks to a transaxle mounted in the rear.
You’ll notice it’s much wider than a standard ATS, which helps accommodate the massive 18-inch racing slicks. It’s also got a carbon fiber undertray and full aero kit, but my favorite touch is the fake CUE-shaped stickers inside the car. You know, so the drivers can pretend to play with the infotainment system when they’re racing.
It’s a cool car. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this thing in future GT seasons. Hopefully it has a bright future ahead of it.
Photos credit Richard Prince for Cadillac, used with permission
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