Autosavant Predicts the Future in GM’s CTS-V Challenge

CTS-VTomorrow, GM’s Bob Lutz will challenge bloggers from the likes of Jalopnik, plus any other challengers who GM has accepted, to the CTS-V challenge at Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York.  The rules call for unmodified vehicles in the CTS-V’s “competitive set,” which to me includes the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and E63 AMG, Jaguar XF-R, and BMW M3 and M5.  No blogs were able to secure a manufacturer’s press car from these three manufacturers after Mercedes-Benz pulled its C63 out and Jaguar pulled its XF-R out, so they’ll now all be challenging Bob Lutz’s lap time in – wait for it – a CTS-V.  Bob Lutz has managed to turn an off-the-cuff remark into a can’t-lose proposition for the CTS-V.  With the results already a foregone conclusion, I figured that I might as well save time and write about the event before it happened.

By Chris Haak

(Actually posted 10.28.2009)

Today at beautiful Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York, the Cadillac CTS-V took on all comers and scored the fastest lap around the race track’s circuit.  Piloted by John Heinricy – the retired GM engineer and test driver who set the Nürburgring lap record for a production sedan in a CTS-V – the aforementioned Cadillac managed to set Monticello’s production sedan lap record as well of 7:59.  (Coincidentally, that is the same lap time that Heinricy had on the Nordschliefe).

Seventy-seven year old GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz also acquitted himself well, managing to clock a best lap time of 8:22 around Monticello’s road course.  Helping Mr. Lutz is the fact that he has spent the better part of the past week practicing on the “Lutzring” at GM’s Milford, Michigan proving ground in a CTS-V as well as a few days of hot laps around the actual Monticello circuit.

Siler, Baruth, and Ulrich – representatives of “new media” who accepted Lutz’s challenge – were disappointed when Jaguar suddenly withdrew its offer of providing an XF-R sedan.  Said Stuart Schorr, Jaguar’s PR representative, “Five hot laps without added brake cooling system could compromise the stopping power and thus create a safety concern for your driver.”  Otherwise, Schorr said, “The car can handle it.”

The people below who actually owntheir cars, unsurprisingly, lost big.  Each vehicle below was down at least 50 horsepower relative to the CTS-V, with only the M5 coming close.  Throw in the supercharged 6.2 liter LSA V8’s low-end torque and Lutz’s/Heinricy’s on-track experience, and the outcome was not a surprise.  Also, each of the gentlemen below probably weren’t quite as carefree around the track as they might have been driving borrowed iron.

And had someone shown up in a Porsche Panamera Turbo S – the only sedan to as-yet beat the CTS-V around the Nordschliefe – and beaten the CTS-V, GM could have easily claimed that the result was not a surprise, given that it’s almost twice as expensive as the Cadillac.

GM also scored a PR win with the fact that its competitors were not interested in putting $80,000-plus vehicles in the hands of questionably-experienced drivers, in a contest that GM created, for an even that was lose-lose for them.  Knowing that a hotshoe like Heinricy can wring the most out of the Cadillac, and the car could set the lap record at Nürburgring, there was little chance for their car to turn in a hotter lap.  And even if a competitor’s car had been able to do it, GM could just claim that it wasn’t a surprise, since the competitor’s car cost $20,000 more.  By turning down the challenge, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar look like they’re afraid of the CTS-V.  Lose-lose for them, win-win for GM.

Of course, since the day’s events were GM’s creation, it was allowed in its sole discretion to determine which cars should compete against the CTS-V.  GM’s own Corvette could have potentially cleaned the CTS-V’s clock on the Monticello circuit for about $20,000 less, but it’s not a sedan.  The Mustang Shelby GT-500 probably could have too.

In the end, it was pretty funny to see much ado about nothing.  I could have predicted the results below without even attending the event.  Heck, I probably could have written this article the day before the event actually occurred.  Oh, wait…

Full Results – Cadillac CTS-V Challenge at Monticello Motor Park, Monticello, New York
October 29, 2009

Name:Wes Siler –
8:26 – Siler held his own against Lutz in Lutz’s car, but Lutz’s additional practice time surely worked to his advantage.
Wes is road test editor for Jalopnik, the first and to take us up on the Challenge. Wes is a skilled and experienced driver and evaluator of cars, especially the fast ones.

Name: Lawrence Ulrich – freelance auto writer
8:28 – Ulrich didn’t embarrass himself, putting in some smooth laps, but at the end of the day, just wasn’t quite fast enough.
Lawrence contributes to The New York Times and other publications. He drives all manner of cars regularly, and has some track driving experience though he’s careful to point out that his experience has been on a non-competitive basis.

Name:Jack Baruth –
DNF – Baruth went a little crazy at the outset and power-slid the car into the grass.  Fortunately, he was the third of three journalists to drive the car.
Jack will be representing in the Challenge. Jack’s an experienced racer, on two wheels and four. He hails from Columbus, Ohio.

Private car owners:

Name: Michael M.
8:36 – Michael’s M5 ran well and set the pace for all of the competitors except for Chris from Michigan, who had a CTS-V of his own.
Hometown:Whitecoff, NJ
Michael is a graduate of the Porsche driving school and a contributor to  He owns a BMW M5.

Name: Michael C.
8:39 – Michael’s M3 ran well and was actually the best car in the corners.  At the end of the day, his M3 just didn’t have enough horsepower to keep up.
Hometown: Long Island, NY
Our second Michael has trained at Skip Barber. At just 21 years old, Michael is the younger driver in the Challenge. He owns a BMW M3.

Name: Chris
8:34 – Chris’ CTS-V was quite a bit off Lutz’s pace, but that’s because it was his own car and he didn’t want to drop $1,500 on new tiresand another several thousand on replacement Brembo brake pads and a new clutch.
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Chris has recently bought a CTS-V, and wants to learn more about his car’s capabilities.

Name: Tom
8:38 – Tom’s Audi RS4 may have had the second-best exhaust note of the day, but its front end-heavy chassis and power deficit weren’t enough to overcome the CTS-V.
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Tom drives an Audi RS4, has participated in the Audi driving school at Sonoma and has also done some autocross racing.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. And that about does it, sports fans.

  2. Wait, Wes is driving an Evo I believe isn’t he??

  3. @Anonymous – Jalopnik said, “So we’ll race against Lutz using his own CTS-V — and probably the Mitsubishi Evo we’ll drive up there in.” I’d imagine that they’d get better lap times in the CTS-V. As much as I hate to admit it, it *is* possible the above post will not be 100% accurate too. 🙂

  4. Well… I don’t know. Them Jalopies are quite the feisty bunch but who in all honesty is going to believe that GM aren’t bringing in ringers for good ole Lutz? It’s a rigged deck and I’m pretty sure you’ve hit it spot on. Carguydad’s got it right in that regard.

    But who are you rooting for? Just out of curiosity. I’m personally of the opinion that its quite a childish pissing match between them all, with TTAC and Jalopnik fighting over the Jag at first, only to have the big puss wimp out (har). Little do they seem to realize, GM’s got this one in the bag… Buuuut… I’m still willing to root for the two, despite their squabbling. Kick that old geezer’s butt.

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