Johnny O’Connell – One Fast Redhead

Johnny O'Connell, ready to race. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Johnny O’Connell, ready to race. [Photo by Jack Webster]

It would take forever to list all of the racing accomplishments of Johnny O’Connell in an article talking about his racing career. Needless to say, the guy has done it all and most importantly, still does it all.

Here are just a few highlights. Johnny has won more races at Sebring (both in class and overall) than any other driver in the track’s history. He has won the 24 Hours of Daytona overall. He was the 2003 and 2004 GTS Class Champion for Corvette in the American Le Mans Series, He has won class at Le Mans numerous times, including a memorable win for Corvette in 2001 – the first Corvette class victory at Le Mans since John Fitch in 1961. We have left much out here, as these are just a few of the highlights, for there are many more.

Recently, Johnny has been plying his considerable talents in the Pirelli World Challenge series, driving for Cadillac. In true Johnny O’Connell style, he has helped GM to the Manufacturer’s Title in the Pirelli World Challenge for the past three seasons, with Cadillac winning the title in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

And by the way, in 2012, 2013 and 2014 Johnny won the driver’s title as well. Not bad for the kid from Flowery Branch, Georgia. While Johnny may not be a kid anymore, he still has his youthful exuberance that is evident in his driving on the track and his demeanor off the track. The guy still has it and proves it every time he shows up at a race. Johnny is always ready to go.

This year in the Pirelli World Challenge, Johnny and his Cadillac ATS-V.R GTS face some very stiff competition. It is not much of a stretch to say that some of the best and closest racing anywhere is taking place in this outstanding series. Just take a look at the competition Cadillac and Johnny are facing. Here are the cars they are up against this year in the GT class: Acura TLX GT, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Bentley Continental GT3, BMW E89 Z4 GT3, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3, McLaren 650S GT3, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3R, Dodge Viper GT3-R and the venerable Porsche 911 GT3R. These are world-class cars and drivers, all competing in a world-class series. If you get the opportunity, get to one of the Pirelli World Challenge events – they are fantastic.

Now back to Johnny O’Connell. Not only is the guy fast and a winner in any form of racing that he has participated in, you will absolutely not meet a nicer guy in the paddock. Johnny is the model for what a race driver should be and absolutely the best ambassador sports car racing could possibly have. Never too busy to pose for photos with fans, sign autographs or actually have a conversation with a fan, Johnny is the best. Be sure to say hello when you see him at the track.

As such, Johnny O’Connell has legions of fans. They have followed his exploits throughout his career, followed his great success with Corvette Racing and now his continuing success with Cadillac in the Pirelli World Challenge.

Johnny O’Connell – that’s one fast redhead, and one heck of a nice guy.

Share Button