Cadillac V-Series Performance Lab

On December 7 I participated in the morning session of the Cadillac V-Series Performance Lab at Circuit of The Americas. And it was good.

I signed up for this five hour event over the summer after hearing about it, and figured it was going to be a cheesy little Cadillac pep-rally to sell cars. I figured they would not have us doing full laps of the circuit, but I was wrong. At about 9 am our group walked out onto pit lane and past the garages that held 24 F1 cars just weeks ago. The drivers name boards still hung above the garages, so I snapped a pic of Sebastian Vettel’s and Lewis Hamilton’s. In fact… I was standing in Hamilton’s garage waiting for my turn to provoke the full 556 HP Supercharged V8 in the CTS-V Coupe.

Headsock: Check. Helmet: Check. Balls: They are there; whether or not they add anything to the equation remains to be seen.

My instructor is Matthew, and he takes the first lap. Matt has done a few laps around CoTA already, so we go full attack at the exit of pit lane. He did not even give me a chance to say “that’s a big hill”.  By hill I mean Turn One, and by big I mean “holy shit”. Thundering back down the hill towards turn two is enough to provoke a death grip on the sissy handle to my right.  This is a good thing since what follows is a series of S-Turns that demand sharp focus to nail perfectly. They make you appreciate the factory Recaro seats keeping a firm grip on your butt. When it came my turn to drive I realized that the apexes of T3-4-5 come much later than expected. If you go in full tilt, you must bleed speed through each kink and prepare for a decreasing radius T6. You get a split second to build up a bit of speed before climbing the left-right-left chicane of  7-8-9 and gunning it through the  left kink T-10.  There is a brief downhill straight as you approach the braking zone of a hairpin T11. Once you nail the apex you can stand on the throttle and blast down the long straight where I pegged 127 before the off throttle lift point set up for the event. Under normal track driving conditions you would be doing some extremely vigorous braking prior to T12, but the lift point towards the end of the straight probably prevents a strong willed participant from stuffing the Caddie into the barriers.

The track cuts left a little more than 90 degrees at the end of the straight, and here you enter a sequence similar to the stadium-section at Hockenheim.  T13-14-15 are quite technical, and then you get to open it up a bit more for a triple-apex long right-hander that was modeled after the eighth turn at Istanbul Park.  Turns 19-20 are both quite similar… but coming out of 20 brings you back to the front straight where you can once again punch it as you charge up the big hill. I will say this: Turn One is very deceiving. You expect gravity to slow you more than it does going up the incline, so by the time you realize you need more brakes… the track flattens and the car gets light. This is an interesting and worrying feeling. It would be even more scary were it were not for the ample run off and liberal kitty litter prior to the barrier.   Luckily I was able to keep the car between the kerbs and avoid an off.

There was more to my day than these two laps. We went to the support paddock area for some skid pad exercises in the Caddie ATS, and then back out onto the track for three laps in the CTS-V Sedan. I wish my video session was the second track outing instead of my first. I went a little bit hotter through a majority of the sequences the second time around… but the video below should give you a good idea of what the V-Series Performance Lab was about:

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~ by ddmotorsports on December 14, 2012.

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