BRASELTON, Ga. (April 12, 2005) - Race car driver Max Papis is accustomed to moving fast, but his travel schedule for the upcoming weekend would tax even the most hardened road warrior. Papis will compete in races at tracks that are more than 800 miles apart, commuting from Georgia to Texas and back in a private jet.
Papis' double duty includes practice, qualifying and a 50-minute race in one of Team Cadillac's CTS-Vs in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge at Road Atlanta on April 15-17. He'll also compete in the International Race of Champions, an all-star event that matches a dozen top drivers from stock car and open-wheel racing in equally prepared cars, at Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday night, April 15. If Papis completes both races, he will cover 74 miles on the winding Road Atlanta course, 100 miles on the high-banked TMS oval, and more than 1,600 miles in the air shuttling between the two venues.
"I will have one goal - to win," said Papis, the reigning Grand American road racing champion who earned his "Mad Max" nickname for his passionate and uncompromising driving style. "I haven't stood on the podium with Team Cadillac yet this year, so I have a lot of motivation."
While the production-based Cadillac CTS-V that Papis will drive at Road Atlanta and the tube-framed Pontiac that he will race at Texas Motor Speedway have little in common, they both wear No. 16. The number celebrates the magnificent V-16 engines that established Cadillac as the standard of luxury in the '30s. Now 75 years later, Papis' No. 16 CTS-V is spotlighting Cadillac's performance side. And like the production CTS-V, Papis' ride is powered by a GM small-block V-8, the world's most successful production-based racing engine, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2005.
"Road Atlanta is a track that suited the Cadillac powertrain very well last year," Papis noted. "It's a fast track that will give us an opportunity to move up in the standings. Our No. 1 goal is to win the manufacturers championship for Cadillac, and I want to win the drivers championship for Max Papis."
Cadillac dominated the World Challenge race at Road Atlanta in September 2004. Max Angelelli put one of Team Cadillac's three CTS-Vs on the pole with a record-setting time and won the 29-lap race. Angelelli's victory vaulted Cadillac into a tie for the manufacturers championship going into the season finale.
"Road Atlanta is a fast, flowing track with several high-speed corners that compliment the skill of our drivers and the capabilities of the CTS-V chassis," commented Dave Spitzer, GM Racing program manager for Team Cadillac. "That's not surprising because the production CTS-V was developed by Cadillac and the GM Performance Division on the Nurburgring race track in Germany. With its elevation changes and sweeping curves, Road Atlanta has many of the same characteristics as those fast mountain roads.
"Team Cadillac raced three cars at Road Atlanta last fall, so we have a tremendous amount of data on the track," Spitzer noted. "As our engineering team returns to tracks where we've raced previously, Team Cadillac can take advantage of its experience to optimize the cars' performance."
Cadillac driver Andy Pilgrim also brings years of racing experience to Road Atlanta. Pilgrim drove Corvette Racing's C5-Rs to GTS class victories in American Le Mans Series events at Road Atlanta in 2000 and 2001. He also won the Speedvision Cup's GS class at the Georgia track in 1995 with a Pontiac Firebird.
"Road Atlanta is one of my favorite race tracks in North America," Pilgrim declared. "It's got fast corners, and I absolutely love fast corners.
"The Cadillacs seem to like Road Atlanta almost as much as I do," Pilgrim laughed. "The cars were very good there last year. After racing on a street circuit like St. Petersburg, a driver has to change his mindset. When you're not racing between concrete walls, there's a tendency to take more risks. But the speeds are very high at Road Atlanta, and if you put a wheel wrong, you can get into big trouble."
Max Papis will be flying high as he crisscrosses the country in pursuit of victory, and Team Cadillac will be flying on the ground at Road Atlanta in pursuit of the SPEED GT title.
Sunday's SPEED GT Race will air at 1 p.m. on SPEED Channel.
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