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Best of the Indy 500 Pace Cars

Best of the Indy 500 Pace Cars! We recently posted that this year’s Indianapolis 500 pace car would be the Corvette Grand Sport model. Not a bad choice for a pace car at Indy, we thought it would be fun to share five of our favorites. Since 1911, the Indianapolis 500 has used a pace car and spearheaded that racing start method. A variety of makes have been pace cars over the years. Since 2002, General Motors has been the exclusive provider of the pace car.

Behind the scenes, pace cars have three authorized variations. The manufacturer usually had 2-3 cars produced to run on the brick oval. Then they gave to the Indy 500 between 50-100 “festival” cars to be used during Speed Week by various representatives and officials. The largest number is reserved for those sold by the dealerships that mimicked the look but never were even in Indiana.

Here are our choice for the Best of the Indy 500 Pace Cars.

best of the indy 500 pace cars, 1991 Dodge Viper RT/10

Photo credit: Doctorindy at English Wikipedia

1991 Dodge Viper
Ironically, the Viper was a last-minute substitution by Dodge. Originally it was to be the Dodge Stealth, which was really produced by Mitsubishi. The public (and unions) were not too happy about this interloper, so Dodge brought in the Dodge Viper RT/10 as a noble substitute.

best of the indy 500 pace cars, 1978 Chevrolet Corvette C3

In 1978, a special edition Chevrolet Corvette C3 pace car for Indy 500 helped commemorate Corvette 25th anniversary. (05/19/2011)

1978 Corvette
Corvettes dominate the list at Indy with fourteen years as a pace car selection. Strange that they didn’t start being used until 1978, when Chevy celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Corvette. The color combo of black and gray with some moderate decals set the bar for what a pace car should look like. You’ll see the ‘78s at various auctions and the Pace Car Anniversary edition always brings in a few extra bucks.

best of the indy 500 pace cars, 1969 Chevy Camaro

Providing a grand finale for the first-generation Camaro, the pleasingly refreshed ’69s included a Z28 model that ruled in Trans Am racing, and an Indy 500 Pace Car considered iconic today.

1969 Camaro
This marked the end of the first generation of the Camaro and we’ll overlook the orange houndstooth interior. The convertible with the Dover White exterior looks sleek and stylish. You’ll find a ton of these at the local cruise-in and we suspect there are more “pace cars” on display than the 3,675 examples Detroit actually produced. The decals are still readily available from after-market companies.

best of the indy 500 pace cars, 1967 Chevy Camaro
1967 Camaro
This marked the beginning of the “pony wars” and was General Motors response to Ford’s Mustang. Only about 100 pace car replicas were sold that year, adding to their rarity. The pace cars lacked air conditioning or a power top. Let the battle begin.

best of the indy 500 pace cars, 1964 world's fair ford mustang introduction

Introducing the new 1965 Ford Mustang to the media in the Ford Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.

1964 ½ Mustang
The Mustang was a masterpiece of Ford promotion. They were offering sneak peeks of portions of the car and it was finally unveiled for the Indy 500. The public ate it up and forced Ford to offer up the Mustang ahead of schedule; hence the 64½ designation of the model year. Ford sold over 400,000 units in the first year so they must have had a better idea.

So, there you have it Fuel Curve’s Best of the Indy 500 Pace Cars. Stay tuned for the list of the worst Indy pace cars.

Mark C. Bach is a well preserved automotive junkie, due to the Arizona dry heat. He loves anything that moves and is especially fond of muscle cars and classics.