November 12, 2019 | 11:00 AM
With five days remaining before Sunday’s inaugural running of the Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions goes green, another important domino has fallen into place.
Seven-time Indianapolis 500 starter Richie Hearn will pilot the Cadillac CTS-V pace car for this weekend’s Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions.
“I am extremely excited to welcome Richie as our honorary pace car driver for this year’s inaugural event,” said Tanner Watkins, the owner/editor of Open-Wheels.com and the president of the Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions.
“Aligning Richie as our pace car driver has been a multi-week process, and I am happy to finally confirm it for race week. To connect the real-world Indianapolis 500 with our edition of the event on iRacing is especially important to me, and given Richie’s background of racing in real life as well as in sim racing, I know he will do a fine job.”
In Hearn’s seven starts at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the California native secured a best finish of third in the 1996 Indianapolis 500. He also finished sixth in the 2002 Indianapolis 500 for Sam Schmidt after starting 22nd and driving through the field.
Additionally, Hearn won the 1997 Indy Racing League’s round at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, taking victory in a car owned by Della Penna Motorsports while finishing ahead of drivers such as Arie Luyendyk, Tony Stewart, Buddy Lazier, Eddie Cheever, and Roberto Guerrero.
For Hearn, getting a chance to pace the field for Sunday’s inaugural race gives him an opportunity to cherish those moments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway once again.
“Being the pace car driver for this event is a real honor,” Hearn stated on Monday. “I consider the Indy 500 the greatest race in the world and being able to race in it for real seven times is the highlight of my career.”
As mentioned previously, Hearn has a multi-year background of racing on iRacing. He joined the community back in 2014 and has 624 career starts on iRacing to his name – including 25 victories. Hearn notes that while he enjoys racing the Dallara IR-18 Indy car on the service, there is one track that also draws his interest.
“My favorite car/combo on iRacing is, of course, the Dallara IR-18 Indy car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as it really brings me back to my favorite days as a professional,” Hearn explains.
“I think that iRacing does a great job of portraying how hard it really is to win this race. My second-favorite (combination) would be driving anything around the Nurburgring.”
As the pace car driver for Sunday’s 500-mile race, Hearn will help pace the field of 33 as race control directs the drivers into their traditional rows of three. The special-edition Cadillac CTS-V pace car piloted by Hearn will be on track for iRacing’s automated pace lap, then the two parade laps as the field is being organized, and then accelerate and pull off the track on the final race control pace lap.
The 2019 Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race will be held on Sunday, November 17 with a worldwide broadcast beginning at 11:15 AM Eastern by RaceSpot TV. The race stream can be found that day by visiting iRacing.com/Live, and additionally, a two-hour pre-race show will begin at 9:00 AM Eastern by visiting Open-Wheels.com/Today500.
Stay tuned to Open-Wheels.com as the month of November continues and the inaugural running of the Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions inches closer to the green flag this weekend.
The 2019 Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race is presented by Mitchell Transmissions. Mitchell Transmissions is an established business in the Evansville, Indiana area who boasts three decades of mechanical experience to help service the needs of many makes and models. You can visit Mitchell Transmissions in Newburgh, Indiana at 10672 West State Road, or give them a call at 812-853-3286.
Header image by Chris Jones/INDYCAR.