Never Stop Driving #103: America vs. Ferrari

Antonin Vincent (ACO)

This Saturday at 10:00 AM Eastern, 62 cars will begin the 24-hour endurance race in Le Mans, France. The Circuit de la Sarthe is over eight miles long and includes public roads. One of the drivers this year, Sebastien Bourdais, was born in the town of Le Mans and has raced at the circuit many times. He is part of Cadillac’s effort to take the crown won by Ferrari last year.

Cadillac’s closed-cockpit V-8 and electric hybrid special, called the V-Series.R, will be competing in the top Hypercar class at Le Mans. You might have heard the Caddy described in official racing parlance as an “LMDh” car—that stands for Le Mans Daytona h—and such race cars are also often informally referred to as “prototypes.” In any case, three Cadillac V-Series.R entries will compete against Porsche (backed by the mighty Penske organization), Toyota, BMW, Lamborghini, Peugeot, and of course Ferrari. We are in a new, golden era of road racing.

Automakers have rediscovered sports-car racing, an unexpected and fantastic outcome for people who love to drive. To underscore the magnitude of these racing efforts and the performance of the cars, we’ve just posted a video in which Jason Cammisa and crew compare the Cadillac V-Series.R, driven by Bourdais, to a trio of current supercars. You won’t believe the speed. Cadillac also produced a behind-the-scenes documentary about its endurance-racing program called “No Perfect Formula” which you can watch several different ways: on the Hagerty Facebook page; on our Samsung TV Plus channel if you have a Samsung TV; or via a web browser here. The film runs at 7:00 PM Eastern today (Friday, June 14) and will play over the weekend. We’ve also provided additional Cadillac racing backstory that you can read here.

Ford will also be battling Ferrari, a rematch with a storied past, in the LMGT3 class. The rivalry began some six decades ago when Enzo Ferrari spurned a Ford Motor Company buyout offer, which enraged Henry Ford II so much he funded a no-expense-spared effort to beat Ferrari at Le Mans. Ford triumphed in 1966 with the GT40 and the company repeated the feat 50 years later with the modern GT (one of the three winning drivers, incidentally, was none other than the aforementioned Sébastien Bourdais). In an unforgettable experience I drove both the 1966 and 2016 winning Fords for this story.

ford-mustang-gt3-le-mans-3
Wes Duenkel

This year, Ford built a new racer based on the Mustang—and also produced videos of the development—for the LMGT3 class, which features racing machines that are readily identifiable as production street cars beneath their wings and scoops. Like the Hypercar class, the LMGT3 class is stacked, with Ford battling not only Ferrari but also Corvette, which won last year. Other familiar manufacturers in LMGT3 include Aston Martin, BMW, Lamborghini, Lexus, McLaren, and Porsche. A quartet of female drivers are racing a GT3 Lamborghini. The juicy story lines are endless; here’s a guide to follow the action.

If you had told me five years ago that we were on the verge of a road-racing renaissance, I would have said you’re crazy, but here we are. I’m thrilled because it illustrates that the passion for driving and the automobile is stronger than ever.

Last weekend, I raced a Mustang in the inaugural Mustang Challenge series alongside Ford CEO Jim Farley. I’ll post a recap next week, but the experience reminded me why motorsports is so important to me. I love driving at the limit, sure, but it’s the people I really cherish. No one gets into racing—to run a team, the track operations, or work on the cars—unless they love it, so it’s a gift to be among such passionate people. You can feel the energy and enthusiasm just walking through the paddock and grandstands. You’ll really get a sense of this when you watch “No Perfect Formula.” And while most American racing fans will never make it across the pond to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we have plenty of endurance racing action right here in the USA. The Cadillacs, Fords, Corvettes, and other cars regularly race in the IMSA Weathertech series that runs around the country.

Have a great weekend!

Larry

P.S.: Your feedback and comments are welcome.

Please share this newsletter with your car-obsessed friends and encourage them to sign up for the free weekly email. The easy-to-complete form is here. And if you’d like to support the efforts of Hagerty Media, please consider joining the Hagerty Drivers Club.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: Is the Market Waving a Green Flag at Lamborghini?
Your daily pit stop for automotive news.

Sign up to receive our Daily Driver newsletter

Subject to Hagerty's Privacy Policy and Terms of Conditions

Thanks for signing up.

Comments

    Great article. I do continually ponder, just as with Honda and its long deep involvement with racing, neither it or Cadillac seem to “truly” support their racing efforts with performance vehicles. The key here is truly. I don’t personally know anyone, when they think about performance, saying, Man, I’m going to go for and get myself a Honda, or a Cadillac. I will say this as well, this is not the case with Honda and their motorcycle line. You most certainly have no problem thinking performance in that area. Yes, I understand endurance racing says a lot about a company in general. But I don’t think the large majority of Honda buyers, buy because of racing. And where Cadillac might be trying to change their image, looking for a younger buyer, I’m not sure (in my mind anyway), it’s done it. I’m still rooting for them. Cadillac sponsored Action Racing, is just 3 miles from my front door here in Denver, NC.

    Tom there is a growing segment of hot rodders and tuners turning out Cadillacs in greater numbers. Some are mild at 700 hp and a few pushing 1000 hp.

    These cars are fast and compared to trying to tune a German car relatively easy.

    I still don’t think Cadillac promotes this movement enough but there are some very wicked Cadillacs out there that can really take out some high dollar cars.

    I am not a Porsche fan per se but in the prototypes it always ends up the world vs Porsche.

    They have a modern record of success few can match.

    Add in Penske you damn near have to crash them out to win.

    Larry, I’m always hopeful regarding Fords efforts at Lemans, but this being the first year of competition for the GT3 Mustang, I’m not overly optimistic. Which for being a died-in-wool Mustang fan, may be blasphemy, but it’s tempered by a sprinkling of reality. Watching the growing pains during the 24 Hours of Daytona, hopefully, they have enough racing in this new car to have work out the bugs, but even with the eventual win with the Ford GT, it took some time to achieve. Fingers crossed…

    All I ask is: “(France family) please do not try to NASCARIZE IMSA and ruin it”. Right now, it is very good racing with many manufacturers involved. I prefer the GT classes; and the Michelin Pilot GT4 cars too. The Hybrid Super Cars are going to be here to stay as the top class and rightly so as that is where the technology is…like it or not.

    Many thanks Larry for this very informative article. I was able to drive Ferraris while working at our shop back in the day.
    I have since retired from that position . I drove a Ferrari 265GB-4 that my uncle owned as well as a Ferrary 330GTB-2 and a Ferrari 577 that my cousin owns.

    Audience, please realize that Webster is one of the best at this “journalism” thing.
    His stories he takes you inside the car and inside the business.

    The links to previous articles will keep you entertained and informed.

    Much appreciation to Webster and his staff at Hagerty.

    RP

    rx

    Was able to drive most of the circuit last August. The track is mostly normal roads high return to being just that, and there are web maps to guide you. At 73 and not beating on the Bronze driver teams with millions in funding, doubt I will drive the race there. Besides, having done Daytona 24 hour I know it’s a tough gig.

    In a perfect world ‘Seb’ would be driving and leading in the Peugeot when the sun came up over Le Mans and go on to take the checkered in a most all time memorable shocker . Didn’t both his father and possibly grandfather race there in some low buck ‘because we can’ efforts? People seem to forget he’s a 4 time CART champion when Indy Car was an also ran series. Certainly nothing to sneeze at. Either way I’ll have my traditional buttery croissants and coffee ready to go for the start .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *