This time, it’s the 2014 Corvette Stingray. This is an all-new Corvette from the ground-up, and this will be the first time most people have ever seen one on the move. It will be painted in Laguna Blue Tintcoat, with all the requisite graphics and safety lights. Mechanically, it won’t differ from the production model, which is scheduled to arrive in showrooms this fall. The 6.2-liter, 450-hp LT1 V8 should have no trouble staying ahead of the field.
It may seem like the first Chevy Indy pace car was the 1967 Camaro, because that’s the one you seem to hear about the most. But actually, bowties took the helm twice before that. Way back in 1948, a Chevy Stylemaster convertible was used as the Indy pace car. This stately Stovebolt was appropriately decorated with colorful pace car graphics that encased the entire side of the car. Then in 1955, the first year of the popular small-block Chevy V8, a red and white Bel Air convertible led the field.
Chevy took a break from their pace car duties until the introduction of the Camaro in 1967, and that nameplate returned several more times over the years, including 1969, 1982, 1993, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Interestingly, although the Indy pace car is generally thought of as a convertible, for a long time, only the ’67 and ’69 Camaros were so configured, as there were no Camaro Indy Pace Car convertibles used through 2011 (convertibles weren't available at all in '82 and '93). Of course, with the re-introduction of the Camaro convertible, the Camaro used in 2011 was a drop top. Chevy has done a good job leveraging the Camaro’s involvement at Indy. In addition to the model cars, trinkets, and collectibles that have been made available, there have been hundreds of pace car replicas sold to the general public.
The Corvette is another familiar nameplate at Indy. It may come as a surprise that the first Corvette Indy pace car didn’t come on the scene until 1978. The fiberglass two-seater has made up for lost time, however, returning in 1986, ’95, ’98, ’99, ’02, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08, and last year. The 2008 version was somewhat curious, in that there was a black and silver version meant to commemorate the first Corvette pace car in 1978, and there was also a wild green pace car meant to promote GM’s use of Ethanol fuel.
Not all Chevy Indy pace cars have been Camaros or Corvettes, however. We already mentioned the 1947 Stylemaster and the 1955 Bel Air. In 1990, Chevrolet chose the Beretta, this an odd convertible conversion that still retained the B-pillar-mounted door handles in a top hoop. In 1999, Jay Leno paced the field in a new-for-2000 Monte Carlo SS. And in 2003, the pickup truck/sports car/hardtop convertible SSR led the way.
The Indianapolis 500 is more about tradition than any other racing event in the world. And much of that tradition centers around Chevrolet leading the field around for the green flag.
The slideshow below features a General Motors publicity photo of every Chevrolet ever to pace the Indy 500, starting with 1948. I think they're pretty interesting pictures, and if you click on the little balloon in the bottom left corner, it'll tell you who actually drove the pace car that year, and also who won the race. Or click here for a nicer version of the slideshow.