Maximum Bob's Bold Challenge
GM vice chairman looks to prove Cadillac's supremacy on track
The best part for me? I’ll also try to outrun Lutz, which sounds like the most fun I’ve had in months.
The event grew out of GM’s “May the Best Car Win” campaign. Originally, Lutz suggested that he could beat any journalist driving any 4-door sedan against Cadillac’s giant-killing, 556-horsepower CTS-V. Next, GM launched a Web site -- ctsvchallenge.com -- and 120 people applied for a chance to “race what you brung” against Lutz in the CTS-V. Now, GM will select roughly five or six civilian participants from that original group, and give them a chance to pit their rides against Lutz. And writers including Wes Siler at Jalopnik, the auto enthusiast site that was first to take up the challenge, will try to best Lutz in timed laps. (Siler reportedly will drive a 510-horsepower Jaguar XFR.)
I’ve been raring to go in my own chosen chariot, the formidable BMW M3 sedan, or perhaps the 500-horsepower M5. But BMW, after seeming open to the idea in the beginning, may be having second thoughts, and it's hard to blame them. Manufacturers seem worried that GM -- certainly exploiting a home-court advantage with a road course that features long straightaways, which heavily favor the mega-powerful CTS-V -- is looking to guarantee a GM win and embarrass its rivals in a "gotcha" marketing campaign. GM indeed plans to film the event, ostensibly for a viral marketing video.
I’ve been joking that the hyper-competitive Lutz has probably commandeered the GM proving-ground track in suburban Detroit, and that he’s practicing as we speak. (Lutz may be 77, but the cigar-chomping, motorcycle-riding former Marine pilot isn't in this to lose.) And I have no doubt that he’ll get valuable coaching from GM’s formidable pro racer and performance guru John Heinricy. GM, in fact, will have Heinricy on hand at Monticello to stand in for Lutz against any competitor who turns out to be a ringer.
I’ve already lobbied Cadillac to hold the event on the shorter layout at Monticello, which might even the deck for hot-handling but less-powerful sedans like the 400-horsepower M3. My pitch was that some nail-biting competition would be better for everyone. But ... no dice.
I also asked Mercedes to let me drive the new, 518-horsepower E63 AMG sedan in the Challenge, but the automaker politely declined; a spokesman said Mercedes sees no upside to participating in the event. Nor will Porsche, it appears, be bringing its 500-horsepower, $133,000 Panamera Turbo 4-door, a rival for the $61,000 Caddy in performance if not price.
GM spokesmen say that’s fine: If other carmakers want to duck the CTS-V, they’ll note that point -- perhaps accompanied by some clucking-chicken noises -- after the event.
Regardless of who shows, I’m at least penciled in to drive laps in the CTS-V (which I’ve already tested at Monticello). But I’m still hoping to saddle up a BMW for a one-in-a-lifetime shot against Lutz. We’ll let you know how it shakes out on Oct. 29.
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