DETROIT -- Cadillac said today it will compete in a production-car race series next year with its CTS-V Coupe, marking the premium brand’s return to racing after a four-year absence.
The coupe will race in the Sports Car Club of America World Challenge, a production-based race car series. Cadillac has excelled there before: The CTS-V sports sedan won the GT Class Manufacturer’s Championship in 2005 and 2007.
Don Butler, Cadillac vice president of marketing, said the sponsorship should boost Cadillac’s reputation among racing buffs while helping to change the brand’s image among prospective buyers who might associate Cadillac with their grandfather.
“It helps us communicate with… the enthusiast who really knows what performance is all about,” Butler said during press conference at General Motors’ headquarters today.
“We know we still have a challenge in terms of convincing people who have residual positive sentiment for Cadillac… but whose image is still associated with the old floaty boaty,” Butler said.
Some production components of cars that compete in the series are modified for racing, although efforts are taken to keep as much production content as possible.
Cadillac will ship production coupes from its plant in Lansing, Mich., to Pratt & Miller, a suburban Detroit engineering firm that will develop the CTS-V Coupe race car.
The coupe, introduced last summer for the 2011 model year, has a supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine with 556 hp.
“We’re going to learn a lot on the track that we can drive right back into the production side,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports.
Campbell acknowledged that Cadillac will face “formidable” competition at the races. Other manufacturers that race cars in the series include Porsche, BMW, Volvo and Aston Martin.
About 12 of the 50-minute races are planned for next year, beginning with the SCCA World Challenge in St. Petersburg, Fla., in March.
Campbell said GM plans to show off the racing version of the coupe at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month.