This is a guest post written by Matthew Harber of D3 Cadillac. D3 Cadillac is one of the premier aftermarket Cadillac performance companies and is located in Signal Hill, California. For more information about D3 Cadillac and the products that they offer, visit www.d3cadillac.com.
Fontana, CA August 12th, 2012. Today was a lesson in numbers. One hundred sixty five degrees track surface temp and 106 degrees ambient air temp. 4200 lbs Cadillac CTS-V’s whipping around a 2.80 mile loop with top speeds of 165 mph. So how could .202 seconds separate 3 cars in one of the classes of the Cadillac Challenge?
The Cadillac Challenge was back at one of the tracks that really allow the higher horsepower cars to strut their stuff. The long straights and high speed banks provide the perfect platform to show why the Cadillac CTS-V’s are so vaunted on the track. There is nothing worse than zipping through the tight infield and hitting the straightaway, only to see Caddy’s super sedan suck your doors off as it rips by. Despite the extremely trying track conditions and temperatures, the Cadillac Challenge participants pressed on and started to prepare to take on the track.
The C1 Class point’s leader Steve Collins and his Matte Black CTS-V F22 Coupe knew that this track would be better suited for his fellow competitors. The ultra high horsepower 2009 Silver CTS-V entry of Sam Lollar was poised to make a run at the quickest lap time. Expecting to take full advantage of the massive power the car produces, he was on track to take no prisoners. The C1 Class saw the return of Hector Lantin and his high horsepower 2011 Silver CTS-V. In addition to Hector were Challenge newcomer Matt Martin and his gorgeous red CTS-V sedan. C1 points leaders Steve C, and second in points Sam Lollar, were looking to go toe to toe. But would they need to pay close attention to Hector & Matt with their entries? As the drivers took to the grid there was a little gamesmanship to be had. Nobody was trying to show what their cars were capable of immediately. This was evident of the initial times that were logged for the first session. Matt Martin pushed his CTS-V to a lap time of 2:20 in the opening round relying on his Toyo Proxy 1’s to keep his car glued to the track. Sam Lollar showed some impressive times for the opening session as well logging a 2:25 second lap during his shake down runs. Hector L and his Silver CTS-V were looking to find his way around the track as this was his first time on track. Point’s leader and ultra consistent driver Steve C was up to his smooth and fast driving style registering a 2:12 lap time, thus setting the pace for the C1 class. The competitors dare not mess with Mother Nature too much by waiting to drop their quick lap times for the challenge. As the minutes ticked away, the temperatures would increase ever so slightly, eventually making its way up to 106 degrees. With a few seconds in hand Steve C waited for his opponents to make the first move, they not knowing if his session 1 lap times were a bluff or not. Not wasting any time, challenge newcomer Matt M, dropped a 2:09.319 lap time to see if he could re-establish a slightly quicker pace. Sam L was determined to match that pace, but heating issues kept him from logging a time that would be competitive with the new pace. The issue forced Sam L to retire early from the competition. The door was open for Hector L and he responded in kind showing that he too could keep pace on the high speed track with a 2:09.697 lap time. Apparently that got the attention of Steve and his matte black coupe. In the final session of the day the technician did it again with a blistering 1:58.041 lap time. This time is not only good enough for the C1 victory, but it also sets a track record for C1 class and is the first lap under 2 minutes for a C1 CTS-V. Steve C has locked the points championship up for C1 Class and will look to press on for the clean season sweep when the challenge hits Buttonwillow again next month.
If you have been following the Cadillac Challenge throughout the season you will know that this class has been providing a great deal of excitement. With incredibly close competition and blazing fast speeds, C2 class has it all. The points leaders were all back in full swing getting familiar with their setups at the high banked track. Special K Racing and driver Karim T were back after missing the previous round. Looking to keep his points lead alive he quickly made his way to the track to take advantage of some of the cooler morning weather (i.e. like turning the boiling water from high to medium). Karim T looked like he never missed a beat registering a 1:58.811 lap time to take top honors for the opening session in C2 class. The Cadillac Challenge also had another newcomer in James Beaky and his pristine CTS-V black sedan. Looking rather racy, James B tossed out a lap time of 2:03.047. He pushed his Toyo R888’s throughout the day, but the pace of the C2 class was evidently pretty quick. James B was not able to improve on the lap time as he backed it up with a slightly slower lap time of 2:04.233 in the following session. The hard charging Richard Caleel and his WPA Racing entry was bent on getting top honors at what is widely known, his favorite track. Showcasing his infamous driving technique he opened with a 1:58.840 lap time in session 1. Not one to miss the fun, Edward Wagner and his white CTS-V Coupe kept pace with a 1:58.970 opening lap time. As you can see the C2 class is very tight and always delivers unexpected results. Can Auto Club Speedway deliver again? As the shadows grew long and the heat waves reached even higher, everyone was determined to outduel each other. Karim T. and his Team Special K entry were looking quite quick and improved on his opening session time with a 1:58.190. The track was very finicky on who it would dole out quick lap times to. Richard C and the WPA Racing entry knew that if they wanted it, they would have to go and get it. Pushing his Toyo R888’s to the limit, he logged a 1:57.501 lap time, besting Ed W’s previous lap time by more than a second. However Ed was quick to respond to the blazing fast time laid down by WPA Racing. Ed pulled a 1:57.119 lap time taking back the quickest time of the day for C2 Class with a .382 second margin of victory. As always the C2 class continues to push the pace of the everyday type street car. The third victory in a row for Ed W will certainly complicate the point’s standings. Going into Round 8 of the Cadillac Challenge Richard C holds a 4 point lead over Team Special K. However both of them are looking behind them as Ed W has amassed points in C2 at an alarming rate. With 3 straight victories, he sees himself just 10 points behind the point’s leader going into the last 2 races of the season. Keep an eye on this class as it looks like it will be going down to the wire.
So this leads us to the C3 class of the Cadillac Challenge. These are the big boys that run without limitations. No holds barred. Kill or be killed. Okay maybe not that dramatic, but you get the point. The competition is fierce and the action is fast paced. This is the first time these juggernauts have met face to face at the high speed ROVAL at Auto Club Speedway. So it was going to be interesting to see who could make the proper adjustments to claim the victory for the 7th round of the Cadillac Challenge. As the cars rolled off the trailers, there were some noticeable changes to the entry from Gary T and his 05 CTS-V race prepped car. Sitting with a slightly more aggressive stance and sporting some wicked nascar style side pipes, it looked like he was looking to improve on his performance since we last seen him at Buttonwillow. Never one to overlook the details Team HeaVyweight Racing and Bob Michaels made sure they had their track shoes on nice and tight. Rocking a fresh set of Toyo RS1 slicks, the sinister matte black sedan looked ready to go. Team D3 Legionnaire was also looking to make some noise at the high speed track. Piloted by James Gill, they too made some adjustments since the last race to improve their overall pace. So how would all the front runners for the C3 class perform in the heat? Opening session witnessed James G and Team D3 Legionnaire crack off an opening time of 1:57.023 lap time to secure the quickest time of first session. Bob M of Team HeaVyweight Racing rolled off the track after the opening session with a lap time of 2:02.567. Gary Torres and his CTS-V slipped around the track to the tune of 1:58.00 as he looked to shake down his new combination. These heavy hitters are known to play games with each other, so not too much could be said about the opening times as it does not always indicate the final results. Session 2 the gauntlet was apparently laid down by Team D3 Legionnaire as James G slid the white CTS-V Coupe around on its Toyo R888’s and registered an even quicker 1:55.469 lap time. Someone was going to have to show their cards soon as the temperatures were starting to rise and track conditions were starting to worsen. Bob M of Team HeaVyweight Racing made the first move at the leader with a track time of 1:55.898 just .429 seconds slower than the entry from D3. Gary T, never one to be late to the party also showed a little of his hand by logging a 1:56.258 lap time. Before the second session was over James G was in the lead with a quick lap time of 1:55.290 further driving down the quick lap time. The race prepped silver CTS-V sedan of Gary T was on a mission to further improve on his opening time logging a best of 1:55.152. Unfortunately that wouldn’t be enough as the third session watched Bob M of HeaVyweight Racing take the lead by registering a 1:55.088 lap time. The time was good enough to win the event with the margin of victory .064 seconds over Gary T. The victory for Bob M came with a small loss as he had a mechanical failure that ended his day. Luckily the car pulled off its quickest lap time before bowing out. The win widens Bob’s lead in Class C3 and sees the competition tighten up when the series heads back to Buttonwillow.
After covering the first 7 rounds of the Cadillac Challenge I am truly impressed by the various combinations being so close to each other in a competitive format such as the Challenge. For the most part we clearly cover the Cadillac Challenge, however the pace of these cars compared to the other cars on track are something to behold. Look for the series to return to Buttonwillow late September for Round 8 of the Cadillac Challenge. Keep checking www.cadillacrace.com for additional news and upgrades. Happy Motoring!