The Second in a Series Highlighting the New Cars That Will Make a Major Impact on IMSA in 2023. Take a Closer Look at Cadillac’s ‘Beastly’ GTP Entry.
By Robin Warner
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Feast your eyes on Cadillac’s latest coupe. No, this isn’t a concept, but a production model – of sorts – set to make its first official appearance later this month.
It has a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V-8 internal combustion engine paired with a hybrid powertrain and one seat. Oh, and it’s a race car vying for overall victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Of course, we’re talking about Cadillac’s V-LMDh race car set to compete in the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Co-developed with Dallara, Cadillac Design and Cadillac Racing, it will compete in the all-new, or renewed if you like, Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class. GTP replaces DPi, or Daytona Prototype international, as the top racing class in the series. What’s more, Cadillac will be joined by Acura, BMW and Porsche LMDh entries, doubling the manufacturer competition from last year in the top class.
The Cadillac stands out, however, both visually and audibly. Aside from the Cadillac emblem proudly adorned front and center, you’ll immediately notice a vertically stacked array of headlights on either side of it.
As your eyes flow across the body, you’ll also see what Cadillac calls “floating blades.” Extending out from the top of the wheel wells, toward the cockpit. These thin horizonal elements add visual width to the car and give off a razor sharp, knife edge kind of vibe – which suits a racetrack just fine.
Then there’s what we’ll call the sound system in the car. Cadillac is one of three makes to opt for a V-8 engine in its GTP car but stands alone in making it naturally aspirated. Cadillac also used a naturally aspirated V-8 for its DPi entries.
“The naturally aspirated 5.5L V-8 sounds beastly,” says Kalvin Parker, assistant program manager of Cadillac Racing. “And you can tell where the Cadillac is on track just by listening. It’s impossible to mistake it for anything but a Cadillac.”
Just like the outgoing DPi-V.R Cadillac race car, the V-LMDh carries on with the same displacement and induction. And it rumbles down the pits and roars down the straight with a throatiness and gustoIf you listen carefully, you can almost hear it yelling “Merica!” at every corner exit.
Despite retaining engine size, this is a new unit. as it needs to pair with the standardized hybrid system co-developed by Xtrac, Bosch and Williams Advanced Engineering. When asked why Cadillac stuck with the same displacement and configuration, Parker said, “The 5.5-liter V-8 offers a solid balance of torque and power output across a wide range of circumstances.
“When choosing the engine for the V-LMDh, we designed an engine that took all the learnings we’ve had from past programs and applied them in a way we felt would bring us success across the wide range of circuits we’ll be racing at.”
Another aspect to consider, Cadillac’s is the largest engine in the field. Acura’s twin-turbo V-6 displaces 2.4 liters. BMW’s twin-turbo V-8 displaces 4.0-liters. And Porsche’s twin-turbo V-8 is the second largest, but nearly a liter smaller at 4.6.
With IMSA’s Balance of Performance keeping every engine’s output around 670 horses, including the hybrid system, Cadillac’s engine will be the least stressed and easiest to keep cool. Theoretically, at least.
Oh, and there’s a smidge of history too. “Cadillac has a lot of experience developing incredible high-performance V-8s,” Parker said. “Beginning with the Cadillac OHV in 1949, which powered the first Cadillacs at Le Mans, the Briggs Cunningham ‘Le Monstre’ and ‘Petit Pataud.’ We made the decision to continue with an all-new (normally aspirated) 5.5-liter V-8 based on our previous successes, which seems like a very natural progression for our return to Le Mans.”
Cadillac has a pair of V-LMDh cars entered for the full WeatherTech Championship season: one each fielded by Action Express Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing. A second Ganassi car will compete in the Rolex 24 before heading off to run in the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
Yes, Cadillac’s latest model is a hybrid coupe. It costs over one million dollars. And, sadly, is already sold out. Honestly, I think you, the consumer, would be much happier in a CT5 anyway.
To start, it seats five comfortably – not one. You also get WAY more trunk space. And, if you get the V Blackwing, you get nearly the same power, too.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t cheer on the V-LMDh. Just listen for the GTPs that shout ‘Merica! around the Daytona high banks.