The Cadillac Racing program appears safe for the foreseeable future, as told by new Cadillac President Steve Carlisle. The 2019 IMSA season kicks off with the 24 Hours of Daytona this Saturday.
“We’re super pumped about that,” Carlisle told GMA in an exclusive interview during the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “It’s not going away… we’ve got a long runway with our DPi cars.”
How high-octane programs such as racing mixes in with Cadillac’s pivot towards electric vehicles, and electric vehicle customers, however, could prove to be a challenge.
“Time will tell,” said Carlisle, with the perspective of what racing might be and how racing might change from now in the future.
With the 24 Hours of Daytona on the horizon, Carlisle pointed out the addition of new teams fielding the Cadillac DPi race car for the 2019 IMSA season, as well as the recruiting of legendary drivers such as Le Mans winner Kamui Kobayashi and former F1 champion Fernando Alonso on a stacked Wayne Taylor Racing team, joining Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande. Both are otherwise teammates on the Toyota Gazoo Racing team, which (finally) won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year in the No. 07 TS050 Hybrid LMP1 race car.
The news should hold over racing fans and Cadillac fans alike on whether or not the racing program would survive the turbulent transition between brand leadership and its headquarters. Luckily Mark Reuss and Steve Carlisle both enjoy the sport of racing, and the track to street benefits of having a Cadillac racing program.
That said, don’t expect a Cadillac to enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans anytime soon, as the IMSA DPi race cars are stubbornly unique from the LMP1 and LMP2 prototype class race cars that are approved by the ACO and the WEC. So that remains Corvette Racing territory for now.
“That gets into another whole conversation of what the technical requirements are… some of these (programs) get to be pretty specific and pretty expensive. So from an ROI point of view, we need to focus somewhere else.”
Carlisle eluded that recent struggles of the WEC, especially retaining high-profile LMP1 teams, may prove to be a bargaining chip for Cadillac Racing.
“They’re going to feel pressure to in trying to keep teams. So we’re not in a rush.”