Johnny O'Connell will move from his longtime seat in Corvette Racing's American Le Mans Series team to the new Team Cadillac motorsports program in the SCCA World Challenge GT in 2011. After 10 successful seasons in Corvettes, O'Connell will join former Corvette Racing teammate Andy Pilgrim in a pair of Cadillac CTS-V Coupes as Cadillac returns to racing in the SCCA production-based series after a three-year absence.
"Johnny O'Connell has made a tremendous contribution to the success of Corvette Racing both on and off the track," said GM Racing director Mark Kent. "Now as GM launches a new motorsports program with another iconic brand, Johnny was the unanimous choice for Team Cadillac. We are very pleased that Johnny will continue to be a valued member of the GM Racing family, and we believe that his proven speed, racecraft, and outgoing personality will be great assets for the Cadillac racing program."
O'Connell, 48, of Flowery Branch, Ga., joined Corvette Racing in 2001. He won 40 races with the team and captured three American Le Mans Series GTS/GT1 championships with co-drivers Ron Fellows (2003-04) and Jan Magnussen (2008). In 2009, O'Connell notched his record-setting eighth career win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and became the first American to score four class victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"After 10 amazing years with Corvette Racing as part of one of the best American sports car teams in history, I am extremely flattered that Cadillac selected me for this very important program," said O'Connell. "I'm very proud to have won more ALMS races in Corvettes than any other driver and to set records at Sebring and Le Mans. I've enjoyed fantastic relationships with the team, with great friends and co-drivers like Ron Fellows and Jan Magnussen, and with Corvette enthusiasts around the world. I look forward to building a similar fan base with Team Cadillac and representing Cadillac for many years to come."
Cadillac is working with Pratt & Miller to develop its new CTS-V Coupe racecar. While some of the production components will be modified due to the demands of racing or to meet the SCCA series' technical rules, every effort will be taken to maintain as much production content as possible, GM officials said.
“Returning to racing in the SCCA World Challenge is a great way to demonstrate the performance and capability of the CTS-V Coupe,” said Don Butler, vice president for Cadillac marketing. “The racecars in this series are production based, which allows us to validate our performance against the best of our competitors on the track, and not just the showroom.”
GM said its Corvette Racing team will announce its 2011 program plans and driver lineup at a later date.