You’d think that a brand with a heritage at Le Mans would milk the fact for all its worth to the marketing department, but in fact few people know that Cadillac of all companies once competed in the famous 24 hour endurance race at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
In 1950 Briggs Cunningham enters a pair of Caddys at Le Mans, and the Europeans couldn’t have taken the lot seriously with one car looking like a factory stock saloon and the other bodied in bizarre, boxy bodywork that enveloped the wheels in an effort to gain an aerodynamic advantage. It was immediately nicknamed, appropriately le Monstre by the French.
The Europeans took notice at the checkered flag though, because that thing finished third behind a pair of Talbot-Lagos flying the local colours.
It wasn’t until the turn of the millennium fifty years later that Cadillac returned to Le Mans, with a prototype racing machine powered by a 4.0-litre V8 developing something like 700 horsepower. The idea was to race in America as well as return to la Sarthe to take on the Europeans once again at Le Mans, except Cadillac arrived on the scene just as Audi was picking up momentum with its own Le Mans program. We all know how that turned out…
At the first race of 2000 for the 24 Hours of Daytona the best placed Cadillac finished six laps down on the winning Audi. Later in the summer at Le Mans the cars were way off pace running with rivals in classes below.
The following year at Le Mans Cadillac fared only slightly better with a 15th place finish, and in 2002 they scored their best finish yet with a 9th, and then tailed it back to Detroit dusting the Cadillac Northstar LMP race cars under the carpet.
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