Thursday, Chevrolet and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway unveiled the pace car for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on May 27. The 33-car field will be paced by a 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Coupe. The winner of the race will take home a replica of the car, as has been the tradition since 1936, when Louis Meyer received the Packard 120 for winning that year’s race.
2018 will mark the 15th time a corvette will pace the Indianapolis 500 and the 29th time a Chevrolet has done so. Both are records most times a manufacturer and car have paced the field.
The history between Chevrolet and the Indianapolis 500 dates back to the inaugural running of the race in 1911. Arthur Chevrolet, brother of the company’s cofounder Louis, competed in that race.The manufacturer would be founded later that year.
Their brother Gaston won the race in 1920 and Louis came back to the speedway to drive the pace car (a Chrysler Imperial) in 1926.
2018 marks the 70th anniversary of Chevrolet’s first appearance as the pace car manufacturer for the race. A 1948 Fleetmaster Six convertible driven by three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Wilbur Shaw, who also served as Indianapolis Motor Speedway President led the field then.
This year will also mark the 40th anniversary of the Corvette’s first appearance as the pace car for The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. 1960 winner Jim Rathmann drove the car in its 1978 debut.
“Chevrolet is proud to once again pace the Indianapolis 500,” said Steve Majoros, marketing director for Cars and Crossovers.
“The ZR1 is the most powerful and fastest Corvette ever made. It’s the perfect choice to pace ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’”
The history between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent company, dates back to 1927.
That year, a LaSalle V8 Series 303 Roadster paced the field by Willard “Big Boy” Rader. Rader was a relief driver at the 500 from 1912-1914, and was a test driver for General Motors.
General Motors has produced the pace car for 56 Indianapolis 500s, including each Indianapolis 500 since 1997 with Chevrolet and the now-defunct Oldsmobile brand. Chevrolet has been the sole manufacturer of the Indianapolis 500 pace car since 2002.
“Chevrolet and IMS enjoy one of the longest-running and strongest bonds in motorsports,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president.
“Seeing all of the incredible Corvettes that have paced the Indianapolis 500 on track today is an exciting reminder of the rich history of this great relationship. This year’s Pace Car, the 2019 Corvette ZR1, is an incredible, fast machine that is a perfect fit to lead the ‘500’ field to the green flag.”
Images courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR Media