Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars
Words and Art by Scott Teeters as originally written for Vette Vues.
The Most Powerful and Advanced Corvette Pace Cars Ever!
Dateline: 10.14.15: 2012 ZR1 Corvette – Before the arrival of the ZR1 in 2009, there’d been rumors about the “possibility” of a supercharged Corvette called the “Blue Devil,” even though no one was complaining about the Z06 or the base 430-horsepower Corvette being weak in the knees. The unleashed, supercharged 638-horsepower ZR1 had a top speed of 205-mph and was like a slightly more user-friendly Z06 on steroids. It was just a surprise that it took until 2012 for the ZR1 to pace the Indy 500! Back in 1981 race winner Bobbie Unser had a pole winning speed of 200.546-mph! Continue reading
Here’s what’s in the August 2015 issue of Vette Vues Magazine!
Dateline: 8.15.15 – The cover story for the August issue of Vette Vues is “Victory At Le Mans!” There’s an old saying in road racing that goes, “If you win the 12 Hours at Sebring or the 24 Hours at Daytona, all of America will know. But if you win the 24 Hours At le Mans, the WHOLE WORLD will know. The Corvette Racing Team scored their eighth Le Mans win since the debut arrival of the C5-R cars in 1999. BRAVISSIMO! Corvette Racing Team!
Feature stories in the August issue include:
Circle City Corvettes Caravan to the Beach – Article & Photos by Charley Robertson
Second Annual Indianapolis Grand Prix – Story by Tom Fielitz & Photos by Dave Estes
“Eyes On Design” In Detroit 2015 Show Coverage – Article & Photos by Wayne Elwood
“Corvette Milestones: August” – Story & Graphics by K. Scott Teeters
“The John Meyerhoff and Mary Carol Plott Corvette Love Affair, Pt 2” – Story and Photos by K. Scott Teeters Continue reading
Ryan Briscoe take a blast in the 2012 60th Anniversary ZR1 Indy 500 Pace Car – calls it, “One hell of a race car!”
This weekend is the 96th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports, the Indy 500. Over the years, some of the cars that pace the race have become stars themselves. And none more that the Corvette Indy Pace Cars. After all, the Indy 500 is America’s race and the Corvette is America’s high performance sports car, so the relationship is a natural. This will be the 11th time (‘78, ‘86. ‘95, ‘98, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘06, ‘07, and ‘08) a Corvette has served as the official Indy 500 pace car.
The last time a Corvette served as an Indy 500 pace car was in 2008 when not one, but two unique Indy Pace Car Corvettes were on hand. A black and silver version was available as an option for Corvette buyers, with 234 Coupes and 266 convertibles sold that year. But the actual pace car was an experimental, Gold Rush Green Z06 running on E-85 fuel. This unique paint was a brilliant candy gold that changed into candy lime green depending on the light and angle of view. I thought for sure this might be a prototype paint for a possible Continue reading
A colorful new addition to Scott Teeters’ collection of Corvette art prints!
Work continues on our new prints enterprise. In April 2012 we partnered with Fine Art America so that our Corvette art print customers could enjoy the many options afforded by FAA. Our latest offering, “Corvette Box of Candies” came as a happy result of working on our horizontal and vertical layouts of the Corvette Special Editions and Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars layouts.
After I completed the graphics for the Special Editions and Pace Cars, it occurred to me that if I put them all on one layout, they’d look like a box of brightly colored, pretty, hard candies. You know those bright-colored, sweet, hard candies you often see in the display cases at Hallmark Card shops. Corvettes in the layout include all of the Special Edition Corvettes from the 1978 25 Anniversary Corvette to the 2011 Carbon Edition Z06, and Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars from 1978 to 2008. So I ran the idea by the boss and she said, “Make it so, Dude!” So, the Dude, got’r done! Continue reading
Corvette paces the 2012 Indy 500 for the 11th time!
Every so often, a real bombshell goes off. Earlier this week, less than three weeks before the 2012 Indy 500 race, Chevrolet announced that a 2013 60th Anniversary ZR1 Corvette would pace the 96th Indy 500 race. This will the the 11th time a Corvette paces the Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports and the 23rd time a Chevrolet automobile has paced the Indy 500. No other manufacturer has paced Indy more times. And, if that’s not enough, 2012 marks the return of Chevrolet as an engine supplier for IZOD IndyCar Series.
C6 Corvettes have paced the Indy 500 in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, but this is the first time the 638-horsepower ZR1 will do the job. The ZR1 is also the most powerful car to ever pace the Indy 500. And just like most of the previous Corvette Indy pace cars, the Corvete needed no performance enhancements – just the addition of various safety requirements.
Arguably, the only bummer part of the story is for Corvette collectors. There was no announcement of an optional Pace Car Special. The livery on the ZR1 Pace Car consists of the production 60th Anniversary decoration, with the addition of the 2012 Indy 500 logo, “Official Pace Car”, Indy 500 logo, “CORVETTE” across the top of the windshield, and the safety strobe light bar on top of the B-pillar. The ZR1’s astonishing hardware aside, this is the tamest-looking Corvette Indy 500 pace car we’ve seen since 1986. But, we’re NOT complaining. Continue reading
Our New Partnership With FineArtAmerica.com
We are very happy to announce our new Corvette art prints enterprise with FineArtAmerica.com. But first, I must give credit, where credit is due. My lovely wife and business partner Karen, discovered FineArtAmerica.com about a month ago. Partnering with FineArtAmerica.com allows me the freedom to create Corvette art print layouts in any proportion. FineArtAmerica.com allows customers to order my Corvette prints in sizes to fit their budget needs! The optional matte and framing service allows customers the freedom to choosing their color matte and frame style to suit their decor needs.
By offering our Corvette prints through FineArtAmerica.com, customers can order prints as small as 8” x 2-5/8” up to 48” x 16” for our 1×3 proportion layouts and 8” x 8” up to 48” x 48” for our square proportion layouts. Every print can be produced on either archival matte paper, photo paper, watercolor paper, or canvas. Then, if you want, you can have your print custom matted and framed. There are dozens of matte colors and frame styles. You can design your framed print to match your home decor. The possibilities are staggering!
The Forgotten Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars
Even if you’re not “into” Indy Car racing, the Indy 500 is a uniquely American special event. Whom ever coined the expression, “The Greatest Spectacle in Motor Sports” got it spot on. In its own unique way, it is the American equivalent of Le Mans. The expression in road racing is this, “You can win at Daytona and America knows about it. But when you win at Le Mans, the whole world knows!” Even though the event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is just one race in a series of races and is early on in the season, it might as well be the Super Bowl of American auto racing. When the flag comes down and the winner is declared, every city newspaper,as well as every national and local TV station reports the winner. But if you win say, the Baltimore or Los Angeles Grand Prix, very few outside the arena of motorsports will know. No, there’s only ONE Indy 500.
While pace cars have been used at the Indy 500 since 1911, the tradition of giving the pace car to the winner of the Indy 500 goes back to 1936. Tommy Milton (winner of the 1921 and 1923 races) was invited to drive the official pace car, a Packard 120, and suggested giving the pace car to the race winner. A new tradition was born. As the speeds of the Indy race cars increased, so did the demands of the pace cars. Eventually, the pace cars were specially modified versions of the street machines with enhanced engines, suspensions, and brakes. By the ‘60s, manufacturers began to sometimes offer pace car replicas to their customers. Tracking actual pace cars is a little tricky because manufacturers usually build several pace cars for the actual race and for promotional use that all pretty much look the same.
Yes, Indy 500 pace cars have become a specialty nitch all by themselves. That’s why in 1978 when it was announced by Chevrolet Continue reading
It’s time to do your patriotic Corvette duty and CAST YOUR VOTE!
Your local Corvette polling place is at the bottom of this post
The other day we were talking about the Ron Fellows Spring Mountain Special Edition 2012 Z06 Corvette. After posting the story I was doing some followup reading and found one post that called the car “boring.” Really? What part? Are we becoming a wee bit jaded with Special Edition Corvettes because they aren’t something other than a coordinated package of performance parts? Me thinks so.
This is an aside, but I’ve been reading similar blather on the net about Corvettes in general. I call it “goofy sniping crap.” You know what I’m talking about, the endless complaining that the Corvette isn’t a Nissan or a Porsche, or a world car, or whatever. The car is either too big (it’s about the same size as a 911 Porsche), it’s too heavy (the Nissan GTR is almost 600 pounds MORE than a Z06), it’s too expensive for younger buyers (and the Porsche and Nissan is cheaper?), materials are low grade (they want cheap, expensive materials?), and on and on.
But the fact remains that; 1. We’re in a deep economic recession, and 2. Even the base model (costing sometimes less than $50,000 if you shop around) delivers more performance per dollar than any other “sports car” you can buy. PERIOD! Is the base Corvette the baddest boy on the block? No. But if that’s what you need to feel good, be prepared to pony up three times as much as a Corvette for a top level Porsche. No, modern Vettes are tight, well-engineered performance cars that can give an owner years of dependable automotive performance pleasure for as little as $50K. Sorry for the digression.
So what’s up with all the special edition Corvettes? They’re just that, “special.” perhaps the disconnect for some is how one defines “special.” Former Corvette engineer and race car driver gave a little bit of insight into what it takes for a major manufacturer like Chevrolet to build special editions. John was largely credited with coming up with the concept for the ‘96 Grand Sport. “Monday morning quarterbacking” is for many, a sport un-to-itself. “Well, it’s just this and that, and why didn’t they do this and such, and wouldn’t you think that they could have…” Heinricy revealed that clearing out the assembly line time and pulling all the parts needed to build 1,000 Grand Sports was a major pain in the butt. For a tuner shop, 1,000 of anything would be a big deal. But for a big manufacturer, small numbers of specialty cars is a big headache. Continue reading
For their third go for the 1995 Indy 500 Corvette, product planners decided to let the designers have at it!
Corvettes have paced the Indy 500 11 times and there have been six Corvette Pace Car replicas offered since 1978. When you look back at the cars in chronological order, there’s an interesting progression. The ‘78 Corvette Pace Car was very stately with its black and silver paint with thin red pin stripping. It was very much of a muscle car-type decoration. The ‘86 Corvette Indy Pace Car couldn’t have been more understated – yellow with lettering on the door. That’s it. Chevrolet hadn’t yet embraced the possibilities of a Corvette Pace Car option and basically wanted to avoid the angst the ‘78 car caused.
But by the time the ‘95 Corvette Indy Pace Car arrived, it was obvious that management let the designers have at it. These cars have to be seen in the daylight to be appreciated. The dark purple metallic paint on the upper portion looks like a lollipop. I don’t know the designer that came up with this design, but BRAVO! Since ‘95 Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars have been, shall we say, brash, with the exception of the silver & black ‘08 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car, which was a salute to the first 1978 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car. Continue reading
A Look Back at the Most Common and Overlooked Corvette Pace Car
1986 was a banner year for Corvette fans with the return of the roadster. The ‘70s was an awful time for performance cars and “fun” cars in general. Between new strict emission controls, sky rocketing gasoline prices (all the way up to 50¢ a gallon! in ‘73), reduced performance, and increased safety concerns, it was not a good time. Convertibles also went down the drain too. Beginning in the Fall of ‘75 with the ‘76 model, there were no more Corvette roadsters. After 22 years, the Corvette Roadster was dead.
So in ‘85 when it was announced that the roadster would be returning, Corvette fans couldn’t be happier. But unlike the olden days when a convertible Corvette cost LESS than a coupe (the ‘75 convertible cost $6,550 and the coupe cost $260 more than the roadster!), the ‘86 Corvette convertible cost an additional $5,005! Unlike the C2 and C3 chassis and body structure, the C4 was not originally designed to be a topless car. Coupe to convertible conversions usually have the characteristic cowl shake and sometimes ride more like wiggle wagons where the driver can actually see the dash shake on bumpy twisty roads. The solution for the C4 was to add a large X-brace to stiffen the chassis.
The second piece of big news for ‘86 was that a Corvette would pace the Indy 500 for the second time. Retired General Chuck Yeager was enjoying celebrity status as a result of the book and movie, “The Right Stuff.” But Chevrolet was still smarting from the heavy criticism over the ‘78 Corvette Pace Car debacle and seemed to go in the opposite direction. Rather than producing a set number of pace car relicas, ALL ‘86 Corvette convertibles were designated as a “Pace Car Replica” and came with dealer or customer applied decals for the doors. Many said, “Why bother.”
By the end of the year, 7,315 of the 35,109 Corvettes were convertibles (20%), all considers “pace cars” regardless of the color of the car. The actual Indy 500 Pace Cars were all yellow and 732 yellow convertibles were sold for the year. No special embroidery, wheel centers, stripes, spoilers… just a set of decals. Consequently, of the six Corvette pace car replicas offered from ‘78 to ‘08, the ‘86 model is the least valuable. Most of the ‘86 Corvette convertible “Pace Cars” never had their decals applied. Continue reading
From the Archives of The Illustrated Corvette Series
The Corvette’s tough-guy legend is founded on racing and performance. By the mid-to-late ‘70s, Corvette high-performance and racing efforts were in the pits. Power was down, weight was up, and Porsches were eating the Corvette’s lunch at the race track. The announcement that the 25th anniversary Corvette would also be the pace car at the ’78 Indy 500, looked like the highlight of the decade for Corvette fans. But controversy was in the mix right from the beginning.
Initially, it looked like a triple-play for Chevrolet. First, the ’78 Corvette received a sleek new fastback roof that completed the overall redesign started in ’73 with the soft bumper covers. Second, all Corvettes wore the 25th Anniversary badges. And third, three special Corvettes would serve as the pace cars at the ’78 Indy 500, and replicas would be available. Then the details set in.
The initial proposal was that there would be 300 pace car replicas, the same number as the ’53 production run. The car would have a two-tone silver paint (for the silver anniversary), red pin striping, and special Goodyear tires with “CORVETTE” sidewall lettering. Then the plan was to make 2,500 replicas, 100 for each year of production. But there were 6,200 dealers that all wanted at least one replica, so production went up to 6,502 units. Then two key elements were changed. The special “CORVETTE” tires were deemed too expensive, and paint was changed to sliver and black.
Then there was the price issue. The RPO 1YZ8778 package cost $4,302, on top of the $9,351 base price – a 46-percent premium! Here’s what came with the option. The exterior had special two-tone paint and pin striping, unique front and rear spoilers, glass roof panels, sport mirrors, and red pin stripped aluminum wheels on P225/60R15 tires. The interior came with power windows and door locks, tilt-telescopic steering column, convenience group, silver thin-shell seats, AM/FM with a CB radio or an 8-track tape player, dual rear speakers, and a power antenna. The $525 L82 engine rated at 220-hp was not part of the package.
The controversy started right on the showroom floor. For a premium collectible,” quality was not good. On many of the cars, fender seams and slight bubbles were clearly visible. The black upper body paint only made the defects look worse. Then there were the opportunistic dealers who tacked on surcharges that bumped the price up to between $15,000 to $22,000. Continue reading
Which Corvette should pace the Indy 500 in 2010?
2010 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car Speculation
by K. Scott Teeters
Score another accolade for the Bow Tie Boys at Chevrolet for the 2010 Camaro Indy 500 Pace Car at the 2009 Indy 500 race. Now that all the fan-fair has died down, the question naturally arises, “What will pace the ‘10 Indy 500?” Continue reading
Indy 500 Corvette Pace Cars Tribute Art
First, a bit of Corvette pace car history by Vette magazine
artist and columnist, K. Scott Teeters:
Corvettes Pace the Indy 500 a record ten times since 1978.
(Will Corvette Do It Again Soon?)
“The Indy 500 race is arguably the most popular race in motor-sports. Early in ‘78 the Corvette world went wild with speculation when news was released that the Corvette would be the Indy 500 pace car, and that replicas would be available. Priced at what was then a mind-boggling $13,653, some buyers paid as much as $25,000 to grab a piece of Corvette history!
Eight years later, the Corvette was again chosen to pace the ‘86 Indy 500. But this time, Chevrolet trumped speculators and designated all ‘86 Corvette roadsters as “pace car replicas.” Since then, Corvette Pace Car-replicas have been limited-production cars and are highly collectible. Continue reading