2000 Cadillac Northstar Le Mans Prototype

Images courtesy Cadillac North America

Technical Description


The Cadillac Northstar LMP is an all-new car taking advantages of the latest technology available.  Using the Riley & Scott MkIII as a baseline, many improvements have been incorporated on this car.  The MkIII has a strong history of winning.  Taking the checkered flag at three out of the last four 24 hours of Daytona including 1999 is no small accomplishment.  The MkIII has also won WSC/CAN AM driver championships for the last 3 years in a row.   GM Motorsports group is developing the engine.  This group has deep history in 4 cam V-8 engines with numerous wins in road racing.  In 1995 and 1996 GM Motorsports 4 cam V-8’s achieved overall wins at the 1996 Daytona 24 hour and 12 hours of Sebring.  In 1997 to the present, a GM 4 cam V-8 has won every IRL event including two Indianapolis 500.


Extensive work was done using C.F.D. to establish the shape.  Extensive model testing was carried out using a 40% rolling road model.  Models were rated for not only downforce and drag, but also how the car reacts to a change between high downforce settings and low drag settings. Full size car wind tunnel testing will also be performed.  The car will be available with a high downforce wing and a low drag wing.  Splitter length and front wheel louvers will also be used for tuning.  Side radiators were selected for plumbing length and protection.  Intercooler ducts will take air from top of body and use this air to cool the engine compartment.  Diffusers are being finalized using the 40% wind tunnel model.  The body and wing are carbon fiber with some Kevlar.   Nomex honeycomb is used as a core.  Splitlines are worked for ease maintenance and fast access to major components.


A carbon monocoque with aluminum honeycomb core is on this car for obvious benefits.   All suspension is mounted to the outside of the tub for safety and reparability with suspension loads fed through carbon fiber and aluminum bulkheads.  An autoclave is used for all tub construction. The driver position and strength of the cockpit were major criteria used in the design.  The electronics are packaged next to the driver.  The fuel cell is directly behind the driver and holds 90 liters.  An aluminum bulkhead is used between the engine and tub.  This bulkhead is removable for fuel cell inspection.  The engine is stressed and is coupled to an aluminum bellhousing that holds a separate oil tank for the engine.


The engine is a 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged aluminum 32-valve V8.  GM Motorsports has taken the experience from successful IMSA and IRL efforts and created the new Northstar.  Key partnerships with McLaren racing engines and IHI turbos will advance the expertise in turbo package development.  Boosted to 1500 mbar (44.3 in. Hg), testing has resulted in very high torque, and a wide flat maximum power range.


The suspension utilizes unequal length wishbones with pushrod-activated shock and spring.  The geometry is derived from the MkIII, but improvements have been made for turn-in and power applications.  The separated shock and spring has been retained and refined.  Front uprights are flow through.  The suspension is designed for strength but also a lot of detail has been incorporated for ease of maintenance and quick repair/replacements.  The wheel hubs utilize automatic locking pins. 


Power assisted rack and pinion steering is being used.  A Saginaw unit has been selected with an electrical over hydraulic pump.  The power steering is necessary with the large caster angles and ultra high downforce.  Attention to a strong “on center” feel is also being incorporated. 


The brake system will accept carbon or iron materials.  Alcon 6 piston monoblock calipers have been selected.  The package can accept 380mm x 40mm rotors and 30mm pads both front and rear.  AP Master cylinders will also be used with driver adjustable brake bias.


The gearbox is a six speed, longitudinal, gears forward, sequential unit.  Built by Emco, a gear-change can be performed through the top of the box with no suspension removal necessary.  An 11-34 ring pinion is used with drop gears.  No lift-shift is intended.


The Cadillac Northstar LMP will come with a Pi dashboard.  Engine functions will be delivered to the dash by a data link.  The Pi system used can be completely upgraded through Riley & Scott.  The car will come with endurance headlights and electric fuel pumps are used.  Two submersed transfer pumps feed fuel along with F.I.   Return to the two-gallon reserve tank.  Overflow from that tank feed the main pickup.  Both main and reserve pumps are submerged Bosch units.


One piece forged Cadillac Northstar LMP wheels made by BBS are the only wheels available.  Wheels will be exclusively available through Riley & Scott.  Front wheels measure 13.0” x 18” rear 14.5” x 18.0”.  The wheels will also utilize pin drive.


The Cadillac Northstar LMP is designed to comply with all sanctioning bodies’ regulations with minor revisions (brakes, diffuser, etc.)

Development Team/Customer Support

A development team will start testing the first two cars mid summer 1999.  All data from testing (set-ups, gearing, etc.) will be passed directly to the customers.  Engine support and parts support will be at all major races and tests.  A supply of parts will also be available in Europe.

The Finished Product

The Cadillac Northstar LMP is only available as a complete car.  The car will be painted, leak checked, and aligned.  The car will be ready to leave the factory and go to its shakedown test.


The car is available in two trim levels.  Upgrading Pi system is optional.  Pricing is as follows:

 ALMS/ACO TRIM   $650,000.00 (carbon brakes and diffuser)
 ISRS/USRRC TRIM   $638,000.00 (iron brakes)

All prices F.O.B. Indianapolis, IN USA.  Engine price to meet ISRS price lap.


The car payments are done in three equal payments. One third to secure order.  Another third halfway through build.  Balance two weeks before delivery.  A 10% discount is available on spares ordered and paid for before pick-up (excluding gearbox parts and wheels).

ęCopyright 1999, Michael J. Fuller