Availability of parts and intricate software are just two of the biggest challenges facing Cadillac Racing as it prepares to begin its 2023 campaign with the Cadillac V-LMDh according to Laura Wontrop Klauser, the brand’s racing program manager.
With the Rolex 24 At Daytona fast approaching, managing the individual parts that make up Cadillac’s next-generation prototype has been a focal point of the car’s development. Without the collaboration between Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express, it was unlikely that the cars would have been up and running at last week’s test in Daytona, Klauser explained.
“The chassis are all-new for all of us, so we had to pull resources together to get to the point where we had running cars at Daytona last week and as we prepare for the Rolex (24),” Klauser said. “So, it’s the same approach for the teams. If we try to be off on different islands, we would be unable to compete once we got to the Rolex. We had to work together. We had to swap parts back and forth to make sure cars were running.
“We had to share learnings and, I think, necessity can be the best tool that you can have in your toolbox, because there really was no other option to get this program done than to collaborate. That has driven the message, and what I think has been great is seeing the results of the collaboration, seeing the ability to get the test program more done by having the two teams helping us and running two cars instead of running one car.”
With three Cadillac V-LMDh entries set for the Rolex 24, managing those parts will be critical.
“Parts management has been a struggle — to get enough parts and to make sure that the quality is what we need,” Klauser noted. “Especially with fielding three cars, we want to make sure we have everything for primaries, we have spares and then, God forbid something happens in the Roar (Daytona test), we have backups for backups.
“Some of it we’re probably going to get just before and some, we might not have backups for backups. Really, just having enough parts to field the cars successfully and working with the supply chain. Of course, Christmas makes things a little tricky, too. Trying to get things this time of year is a challenge, but we have a full team on it and working through it.”
Klauser related that one of the biggest surprises for her in this endeavor was nothing to do with the physical parts that make up the Cadillac V-LMDh, but rather the intricacies of the computer software within the vehicle. Those new challenges have meant that Cadillac has brought in people with little or no racing experience to help extract the most out of the car.
“The sheer amount of code and software that has been written to run this car is daunting. We cannot have enough software engineers working right now, because everything on the car is connected,” Klauser said. “Things that we never had to worry about influencing each other in the past with the DPi or other race programs, now if one thing is slightly off it’s not going to run or turn or brake or whatever it needs to do.
“We have brought on some incredible young people to our program that are just blowing us away with what they are able to do. If you say, ‘Hey, we have this problem to solve. Figure it out,’ and then give them the freedom and the ability to do what they think is right, it’s been awesome. It really is the future.
“It’s seeing how we can mesh people with 20-plus years of experience in racing with new people who have more experience in this new software and everything we’re bringing onboard. You can see the mature and the up-and-coming working together and how they are learning from each other.”