Ahalf century after its first and only foray to the 24 Hours of Le Mans,
Cadillac dared to be different when it
returned to northern France in 2000.
While others vying for victory in the
world’s most famous endurance race built
highly specialized race engines to power
their exotic prototype sports cars, Cadillac’s
contender had a twin-turbo version of a
street-car powerplant, the 4-liter Northstar
V8, at its beating, growling heart.
It’s an approach echoed in the new
Cadillac DPi-V.R racer, which uses the
same 6.2-liter V8 that you’ll find in the
CTS-V or Escalade at your local dealer.
Then, as now, Cadillac goes racing to
build better street cars. Through the
two-way transfer of technology between
road and track, and the uncompromising
environment that competition provides,
racing really does improve the breed.
Adding to Cadillac’s challenges in 2000,
its European-based competition not only
had a head start in terms of experience,
but in basic logistics, too. Based 4,000
miles and an ocean away, Cadillac called
on the services of the French-based DAMS
team, as well as U.S.-based Riley & Scott,
to ease the steepness of its learning curve.
It used the 2000 Rolex 24 at Daytona as a
valuable warmup, yet its first Le Mans in
50 years still proved as tough as expected.
Four Northstar LMPs were entered, with
the quickest qualifying a solid ninth. But
with a best finish of only 19th, it was time
to regroup and react to the lessons learned.
On its return to Le Mans in 2001, the
updated Cadillac Northstar LMP01 showed
its improved pace and reliability. Two cars
were entered by DAMS, starting eighth
and 12th. Despite losing one car in an
accident early in the race, a 15th-place
A second-place finish for the Northstar LMP02 on the streets of
Miami in 2002 demonstrated how competitive Team Cadillac had
become in its third season of prototype sports car racing.
Showing its potential
Like now, when Cadillac entered endurance racing in 2000, a street-car engine was at the heart of it all.