Autoweek recently sat down for an interview with an important figure within General Motors that you probably have not heard much about, if anything at all: Cadillac Racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser.
Wontrop Klauser is in charge of the Cadillac DPi-V.R customer race car program and ensures that all of GM’s IMSA prototype teams have what they need from the OEM side to be successful come race day.
The 32-year-old earned a mechanical engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan before joining GM’s engineering department. When a position opened up at Cadillac Racing, she applied – hopeful that her experience with Formula SAE would be enough to land her the role.
“I joined GM after graduating, went into the regular production engineering stuff,” Wontrop Klauser told Autoweek. “I got to work on the Corvette, and I worked on a couple Cadillacs. I did the shocks on the CT6, I did the sway bar and rear springs on the Cadillac XTS. And I did some noise and vibration work on the Cruze.”
“Then the opportunity to be the racing program manager came up,” she added. “That’s a job that GM promotes from within. I applied, got to talk about what it was like to be a Formula SAE student, then what it was like to come back as a volunteer and help run the dynamic events. And with that background, they decided to give me a chance.”
Wontrop Klauser joined Cadillac Racing when it was still racing the GT3-spec ATS-V.R, which was a factory-backed program run by Pratt & Miller. The DPi-V.R she’s now working with is much different, as it is a customer race car and is available to buy should teams be interested in fielding one in the IMSA’s DPi class.
“The ATS was a manufacturer-backed program, so GM completely owned the budget and we had Pratt & Miller contracted out to race the car for us,” she explained. “With the DPi, we have customers. They buy their cars, own their budgets and they own how they race the cars.”
“So I went from being an overseeing role to a supportive role. My job is to make sure that our teams have the best possible race cars. So when they mix that with great execution and phenomenal drivers, they can go out and win races.”
The full interview, available to read here, is worth checking out for additional insights into Cadillac Racing and Wontrop Klauser’s role.