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The Lohnes Wreck Files: Caddy Smack

The Lohnes Wreck Files: Caddy Smack

This one totally qualifies as schadenfreude, or in English, taking delight in someone else’s misfortune. Conversely, it doesn’t really qualify as a wreck, seeing as nothing was really crashed, but some stuff was definitely busted by the time it was all said and done. There were also tears shed, by a dude.

It was the summer of 2004 and the Cadillac CTS-Vs had just started showing up on the streets after a long media hype campaign. I had never actually seen one outside of on the pages of the magazines and on the web. That was until one pulled into a Wednesday track rental at the dragstrip.

It arrived wearing a dealer plate, window sticker, and even the plastic bag covers on the seats. The car was piloted by a kid who could have been no more than 18 or 19 at the time. He was the son of a dealership owner in New England and within three seconds of talking to him, he had let you know that. Regardless, the car was cool and we were looking forward to seeing him wring it out on the track.

He certainly wrung it out. On his first pass he pulled into the water (wearing the low-profile street tires those cars came with stock) and did a massive smoky burnout. By now we knew that he was a rookie at this stuff. He staged the car after a couple of tries and down came the tree. He sidestepped the clutch and the thing lit the tires up instantly.

The really bad decision came when he decided not to lift off the throttle, but to power shift into second gear, causing immediate and horrific wheel hop. That wheel hop only lasted a second because the entire centersection of the rear differential blew up. When I saw blew up, I really mean blew up. Like pieces of cast aluminum blown everywhere, chunks of gears, and copious amounts of gear oil splattered and spooged onto the track blew up.

The kid climbed out, looked under the car then climbed back into the driver seat and put his head into his hands. When we walked up he was openly weeping. He then spilled the beans that his dad had no idea what he was doing with the car and that he was nearly 100 miles from home and was completely screwed. He begged us to pull the car out to the main road so he could call for a tow.

My first experience with a CTS-V was using a front end loader to drag it out to the main road so the kid could call a tow truck and start to formulate some hare-brained scheme to get the car repaired without his dad knowing.

That was the last time we ever saw that kid at the track. Hopefully he’s still alive.

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