Desert Center, CA March 24th, 2012. Chuckwalla Valley Raceway hosted round 2 of the increasingly popular Cadillac Challenge. If some is good, can more be better? Like a well prepared dinner that hits all the flavor notes. The first round of the challenge left you wanting more. Well this race provided you with an adequate second helping of more. The biggest question mark going into the weekend was the level of competition. Would it tighten up, would drivers make adjustments to their cars, or would the competition start to turn into a one horse race? 1 race can answer all of those questions.
Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center, CA Saturday’s morning session was the lead in to another action packed event. You never know what to expect when you are miles away from civilization. One could say the track is out of place given its geographical location. One could also say that a Cadillac is out of place on the racetrack. By the end of the day, there was little doubt about either. The track was fantastic and the Cadillacs were incredibly fast. The reputation for the relatively new track was that it is technical and quick. Your lines needed to be accurate with very little margin for error or risk putting a wheel off into the sandbox. Your car needed to be mechanically sound and the drivers needed to have laser like focus in the midst of dealing with the dessert environment. If you were committed to those pre-requisites, the track would prove to be rewarding and giving in its bearing of the fruits.
Session 1 was the first time most of these drivers saw the track. But that didn’t stop anyone from going out to find out how their cars would stack up against the competition. C1 class points leader Steve Collins and his 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe was in full learn mode as he was trying to learn the quick way around the track. Sporting a matte black finish, his car looked like a special ops recon vehicle looking for intel. Let’s check back later to see if his intel was accurate on this track. David Little and his 1st gen CTS-V was quick throughout the day. Could he be the early front runner for the day? Or could Sam Lollar and his high horsepower 2009 CTS-V prove to be a challenger? As the drivers made their adjustments throughout the day it seemed that David Little and Steve Collins would be in a heated battle as they proceeded through the sessions of the day. Less than one tenth of a second separated David Little and Steve Collins when the dust settled. Two completely different car setups, two completely different driving styles, and two completely different performance outputs. Again, just separated by two tenths of a second, victory goes to Steve Collins and his 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe for the C1 class win with a lap time of 2:14.262. Seems he did in fact have the right intel for the task. Apparently David Little had very similar intel as well with a lap time of 2:14.303. The margin of victory was .041.
Class C2. This class proved to be extremely competitive as well. Class C2 is composed of high horsepower and well modified CTS-V’s. All of these cars play on one level playing field. Toyo Tire R888’s. With everyone picking the same weapon of choice (i.e. tires) it was going to come down to driving style, setup, and adjustments. C2 class points leader Alan Cohen from CTSVRACING.COM was back from New York, with his 2009 Silver CTS-V, to prove that his round 1 victory was more than just beginners luck. As he sorted his combination out on the track, he proved to be a force by the end of the day. How entries from Blake S., Karim T., and Richard C. would do out in the dessert? All three drivers made changes since we last saw them at Fontana a couple of weeks ago. Their improvements were apparent as they all logged quick lap times throughout the day. Alan C. landed the first body blow with an impressive qualifying lap time of 2:15.01. Karim T. was only a few ticks behind him during qualifying. Blake S. and Richard C. weren’t going to let them have all the fun as they managed to find their areas of improvement during the day as they lopped off seconds from their lap times. The final sessions were shaping up to be quite interesting. In the timed session used to determine the winner, Alan C. and his 2009 Silver CTS-V Sedan registered a winning time of 2:11.450 to claim his second straight victory of the season. Karim T. followed right behind him with a 2:13.171 lap that resounded on the paddock. However the real head turner was that on the optional 4th session Karim T laid down a 2:10 lap that would have secured 1st place in Class C2 if he was able to pull off that same lap in the previous session. Point taken, Karim T. will be a force to be reckoned with throughout the year.
Class C3 saw a new entry from the D3 camp as they jumped up from class C2. In the first session D3’s entry, The Legionnaire, driven by James Gill powered his way to a 2:10 lap fresh off the trailer. The bar was quickly set for the rest of the field to match the performance of the Legionnaire. But did he show his hand too soon? Bob Michaels of Team HeaVyweight racing took notice and made his adjustments for the following sessions. As the day started to heat up both drivers looked for quicker ways around the racetrack in an effort to best each other’s times. Both of them were seen making adjustments to tire pressures on their Toyo R888’s looking for that last tenth of a second. Needless to say neither one of them were afraid to drop a tire or two in effort of securing the top time for the class. Bob Michaels and his extremely sinister matte/gloss black CTS-V Sedan looked like a menacing wing warrior out in the dessert. Quickly disposing of slower traffic in front of him, he was able to secure a best lap time of 2:08.109 for the C3 class victory. This proved too much for James Gill and his fire belching 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe as he could only muster a best lap of 2:09.75 taking second in the class. However the pace that the C3 cars were something to behold as they were incredibly fast throughout the day. Let’s not forget that we are talking about vehicle well in excess of 4200 lbs hunting down more agile and lighter cars.
As round 2 came to an end, there were fantastic battles in the dessert. We were witness to fierce competition that showed the slimmest margins of victory in each class. Furthermore everyone in attendance witnessed the incredible speed and pace in which these Cadillac vehicles performed on the racetrack. The track proved to be very much in its correct geographical place and was rewarding for those that navigated it correctly. Concurrently the Cadillacs were also in their well deserved place, on the racetrack, where they can show their abilities in battle. There was only one thing that didn’t belong at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway this past weekend, preconceived notions about Cadillacs. They, once again, proved to be as fast as or faster than advertised. If there are any questions about that, make sure you check out Round 3 (Vegas Invitational) as they take on the best from Germany in an exhibition round during MFest. Happy motoring.