Time to put up or shut up.

Cadillac says its new CTS-V epitomizes performance in a $49,995 luxury sedan.

With its 5.7-liter, 400-horsepower V-8, Cadillac says the CTS-V that goes on sale in a matter of weeks can take on all comers--primarily the BMW M-Series and the Mercedes-Benz AMG.

To make good on its boast, Cadillac says it will go racing with the CTS-V, though actually with an even more potent rendition of that sedan called the CTS-V Race Car.

Cadillac boasts about high performance, not its ability to come up with names, as evidenced by Escalade, XLR, SRX and now Race Car.

Race Car will compete in the GT Class of the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Speed World Challenge this season. It is a North American race series for production-based cars in which competitors include the Cadillac the likes of Audi, BMW, Porsche, Dodge, Mazda and Chevrolet.

As automakers with entries that compete on the track like to boast: Race on Sunday, sell on Monday.

Don't know how many Cadillac enthusiasts will pass up golf or a cruise in their boat on Sunday to watch an auto race, but if Race Car is successful, they could be drawn to the showroom on Monday. Don't you think?

First up on the circuit will be Sebring in March, a sprint race that takes place before the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Cadillac has raced an exotic in the LMP class on the American LeMans series, but the car is a high-technology test bed and isn't available at dealerships.

Cadillac general manager Mark LaNeve said the Race Car "is further evidence of the changes taking place at Cadillac" and will give Cadillac "credibility with luxury performance enthusiasts" when it beats its chest over performance claims.

No doubt about the changes at Cadillac. Everything has or will be redone within a couple of years. Racing should draw attention to the fact that the luxury division is hell-bent on a new image.

As for racing giving Cadillac credibility, absolutely, provided, of course, that it wins on occasion.

Few remember the second man to set foot on the moon, and in auto racing no one pays attention to the car behind the one getting the checkered flag unless the also-ran is sliding sideways across the line.

The CTS-V is the first race car developed by GM Racing in conjunction with GM's new Performance Division, the group that came up with such cars as the high-performance Saturn Ion Red Line coupe that recently set a land-speed record for its class, as well as the Pontiac Bonneville GXP sedan.

Unlike NASCAR, where other than the exterior shell, the race car has little in common with the production model, the Cadillac racer is 73 percent stock derived, including engine, suspension, steering system and differential.

The Race Car will be powered by a 500-h.p.-plus version of the 5.7-liter V-8 that delivers 400-h.p. and 395-foot pounds of torque in the CTS-V sedan. For now, Cadillac isn't saying how much torque the 500-h.p. Race Car will deliver. But it does say the car can reach 165 m.p.h.

Because it's a race car, there's no concern over mileage, which is good because Cadillac says it will have a 25-gallon tank capable of completing the series' 50-minute sprint races without having to make a pit stop.

The Race Car is built on GM's rear-wheel-drive Sigma platform, same used for the CTS sedan, SRX luxury-utility vehicle and '05 STS sedan, the car now known as the Seville.

Before you ask, nope, Cadillac has no intention of competing on the NASCAR circuit.

"We'll let Chevrolet take the checkered flag in NASCAR," said Cadillac spokesman Kerry Christopher.


If Cadillac changes its mind, can you imagine a CTS-V Race Car blazing down the straightaway with "Viagra" painted on the hood.