O’Connell In Championship Battle

Johnny O'Connell, ready to race at Road America. [John Wiedemann Photo]

Johnny O’Connell, ready to race at Road America. [John Wiedemann Photo]

Elkhart Lake, WI – Four-time GT champion Johnny O’Connell has two races at Road America this weekend in his Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. GT3 as he continues to battle to extend his consecutive championship streak and defend the title. The Pirelli World Challenge season is just a race past the halfway mark and O’Connell is third in the standings behind Patrick Long and Alvaro Parente.

Like most tracks he visits, Johnny has considerable experience at Road America and he truly loves the track.

“If you look at motorsports tracks, most tracks that were built in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s are the best tracks,” explained O’Connell. “Because you have long straightaways, normally a constant radius corner or an increasing radius corner and you have overtaking areas. This place [Road America] is magical. This place has one of the last hero corners in the United States. You have ‘the kink’ which is comparable to Eau Rouge at Spa. You have an amazing corner there. This is a racetrack that everybody would put on their top five list.”

And again, O’Connell has a lot of experience with the ‘the kink’, from Super Bees to Indy Lights to the highest levels of road racing.

“It’s never been a really daunting corner,” said O’Connell. “You are on your toes for it but I just always visualize good things happening there, not bad things.”

So can the 53 year old O’Connell use that experience to get past the 34 year old Long and the 31 year old Portuguese racer Parente?

“I feel very good about my driving right now. This weekend we try to hit our marks, don’t make any mistakes and hope good things happen. We’ve got to fight hard the rest of the way. We’ve been in this position many times in this series, so hopefully we’ll pull it off again.”

“I still feel like I’m in my twenties, but it’s 30 years ago that I first raced here,” recalled O’Connell. “I’ve been very blessed, I’ve driven for some great factories, the best of course is General Motors and I’ve been with them 16 years now. I always say you surround yourself with good people and good things happen.”

And now the racing veteran, who has raced at Le Mans 15 times and has won many championships has another battle on his hands. The advice that he would give younger racers is probably what he continues to use to beat them today.

“I got great advise when I was in my early twenties, a guy said ‘as long as you don’t quit, you’ll achieve some sort of success’ and I refused to quit, even in my starving years, I believed I could make this work.”

Some sort of success has turned into a lot of success for Johnny O’Connell and just may turn into a fifth consecutive title in the Pirelli World Challenge series.

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