Cadillac Racing may have walked away empty handed from the Pirelli World Challenge season opener at St. Petersburg, but veteran racing driver Johnny O’Connell is determined to add some hardware to the automaker’s racing cabinet in Long Beach on April 9th.
O’Connell has a love for the narrow, winding track at Long Beach – having affectionately dubbed it the “U.S. Monaco.” The Cadillac Racing driver took victory at the track last year, which was one of the many times he’s won on the streets of SoCal, but was later demoted to second after the Cadillac ATS-V.R failed a post-race inspection. He wants redemption in 2017.
“We won the race on the track last year and the officials moved us to second after a pre-race inspection for being over boost with our turbocharged engine which was a blink of an eye,” said O’Connell. “So, I want to get back to Long Beach and rectify that win. I want another first-place trophy from Long Beach.”
O’Connell was actually able to keep his first-place trophy from Long Beach last year thanks to a sportsmanlike gesture from reigning PWC GT champion Alvaro Parente. The McLaren factory driver finished second behind O’Connell, but refused to take the first place trophy from O’Connell as he believed he won the race fairly.
“The cool thing last year was that I really respect all of my competitors but Alvaro Parente, who got the win after the race, did a very awesome deal,” said O’Connell. “He finished second on the track but I went to him at the next race (Barber Motorsports Park) and gave him the winning trophy. But he said to me, ‘Dude, you won that race. Please keep the trophy.’ And that showed me a lot of honor from him.”
The PWC series will take to the track next Sunday at 10 a.m. PDT for the 50-minute sprint race from Long Beach. A live stream of the race will be available through World-Challenge.tv, and CBS Sports will also air a same-day telecast at 2:30 p.m. ET.