107 CADILLAC’S FIRST PROTOTYPE / CADILLAC.com
1953 CADILLAC LE MANS
The Le Mans was a concept by legendary designer Harley Earl for the 1953 General Motors Motorama
exhibition. Named for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, only four of the stunning two-seat roadsters were built.
When wealthy American auto racing enthusiast
Briggs Cunningham entered the 1950
24 Hours of Le Mans with a pair of Series 61
Cadillacs, a rule allowing non-standard
Despite that, “Le Monstre” finished
bodywork spawned a car so outrageous
the French named it “Le Monstre.”
Cunningham kept one Cadillac relatively
standard, but tasked a Grumman aircraft
engineer with making the other as light and
streamlined as possible. The result, honed
in a wind tunnel normally used for crop
dusters, was a slab-shaped, yet effective
body that proved some 13mph faster in a
straight line. But despite its slipperiness,
poor traction out of corners meant
“Le Monstre” was slower around a complete
lap than its unmodified teammate.
11th, one place behind the other Cadillac,
becoming a crowd favorite in the process.
It could have been higher had Cunningham,
who shared the driving with Phil Walters,
heeded advice and carried a shovel in the
car. He was left to rue his decision after he
went off the road into deep sand and was
forced to dig himself out by hand, losing
more than 30 minutes in the process...
(ABOVE) “Le Monstre” sits alongside its
relatively unmodified 61 Series Cadillac
teammate at the 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans.
THE LEGEND OF
finish for the other hinted at progress. It
was followed by a third- and fourth-place
finish for the U.S.-based Team Cadillac
squad in an American Le Mans Series race
at Mosport Park, Ontario, later that season.
For 2002, the relentless pace of
development saw an all-new Northstar
LMP02 take to the track, with Le Mans
once again the primary focus. Qualifying
eight and 10th in France, Team Cadillac ran
strongly in the race to record a ninth- and
12th-place finish. On its return to the States
and ALMS competition, second place on
the streets of Miami and a three-four result
at the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road
Atlanta pointed to an exciting 2003 ahead.
But we’re left to speculate on what
might have been. With GM concentrating
its endurance-racing resources on the
burgeoning Corvette Racing program, the
Northstar LMP02 didn’t compete in 2003.
Instead, American sports car fans were left
with incredible memories from an exciting
adventure...and a whole lot of “what ifs?”
“That 2002 car was probably the best
prototype I ever drove,” he says. ”It was
fantastic, and had the program continued,
I’ve no doubt it was a winning car.
“For me as a racer, it was unfinished
business, and I always hoped that Cadillac
would return to prototypes one day. So to
be involved with the DPi-V.R program, with
my sons, Jordan and Ricky, both driving
for me, and with the exciting emphasis
on technology transfer and relevance,
it really is a dream come true.”
Wayne Taylor and Max
Angelelli (ABOVE, at
the wheel of the 2001
LMP01) were part of
the driver lineup for
all three seasons of
program. For 2017,
their relationship with
Cadillac is renewed as
Wayne Taylor Racing
runs one of the new
with Angelelli on the
Debut for the Northstar LMP was the 2000 Rolex 24 at Daytona, one
of the toughest races on the calendar. The No. 5 car (BELOW) started
a respectable fifth and finished 14th, one place behind its sister car.
A tough place to start...