By Steve & Tamami Laser
How many times has a Chevrolet Camaro served as the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500? If we’re counting correctly, it’s eight: 1967, 1969, 1982, 1993, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014. With the 100th running of the Indy 500 coming up next month, Camaro will again pace the race.
The timing couldn’t be better: Camaro is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary later this year. The 2017 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition Pace Car will be driven by motorsports legend Roger Penske, who is marking 50 years as a race team owner. This will be the ninth time Camaro has served as the pace car and the 27th time for Chevrolet, dating back to 1948.
”Chevrolet and the Indianapolis 500 have a long, storied history and it’s an honor to mark the respective milestones of the Indy 500 race and the Camaro simultaneously,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development and Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “It’s also a privilege to have Roger Penske perform the driving duties, as his team has helped Chevrolet earn four consecutive IndyCar manufacturer titles since 2012.”
“Chevrolet and Roger Penske are inextricably linked to the heritage of the Indianapolis 500,” said Doug Boles (above, left), President of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “When he leads the pack on May 29, behind the wheel of the Camaro SS, he will drive the race into its next 100 years and strengthen the bond Chevrolet and Indianapolis forged a century ago.”
Four identically prepared pace cars will support the race, all with exclusive Abalone White exteriors featuring “100th Running of the Indianapolis 500” graphics on the doors and the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway wing-and-wheel logo on the quarter panels. They also incorporate the exterior cues and graphics that are unique to the Camaro 50th Anniversary package that goes on sale this summer.
Chevrolet says with 455 horsepower on tap, the Camaro SS pace cars require no performance modifications to lead the racing field.
For 2016, Chevrolet drivers will be looking to build on last year’s results of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” when the top four finishers were Chevy-powered, led by race-winner and Team Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya. It was his second Indy 500 victory and the 16th for Team Penske.
No other racing team has recorded more wins at the Brickyard than Team Penske, and it started with driver Mark Donohue’s victory in 1972. Penske and Donohue established their relationship six years earlier, when Penske transitioned from driver to team owner. They quickly found success in SCCA’s Trans-Am Series, with Donohue piloting an early Camaro Z/28 racecar, winning three of 12 races in 1967 and 10 of 13 in 1968.
Penske tackled the Indy 500 for the first time in 1969, while still campaigning a Camaro in Trans-Am. Donohue was his driver for both series. Later, racers including Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Rick Mears drove for Penske, with Mears winning four Indianapolis 500 races and helping solidify Team Penske as an Indy powerhouse in the 1980s. That legacy advances this year, as Roger Penske seeks his 17th Indy 500 title as a team owner.
2017 Camaro 50th Anniversary Edition
The 50th Anniversary Edition honors the distinctive looks and performance that have always set the Camaro apart. It is offered on 2LT and 2SS coupe and convertible models, all with Nightfall Gray Metallic exteriors featuring a 50th Anniversary stripe package and badges – and a black top on convertibles.
The specially prepared Abalone White pace cars differ in exterior color, but share the Anniversary Edition package’s stripes and other content features, including: Specific 20-inch 50th Anniversary wheels, unique grille with satin chrome accents, body-color front splitter, orange brake calipers (front only on LT), unique black leather interior with suede inserts and orange accent stitching, distinct 50th Anniversary treatments on instrument panel, seatbacks, steering wheel and illuminated sill plates, and 2LT includes RS Appearance Package.
The Camaro 2LT comes standard with a 2.0L Turbo engine rated at 275 hp (205 kW) and a 335-hp (250 kW) 3.6L V6 is available. The Camaro 2SS features the LT1 6.2L V8, which offers 455 hp (339 kW), making it “the most powerful Camaro SS ever.” Each engine is available with a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission.
Camaro Pace Cars Are Collector’s Items
- 1967 – RS/SS convertible
- 1969 – RS/SS convertible (above)
- 1982 – Z28 coupe
- 1993 – Z28 coupe
- 2009 – SS coupe (2010 model)
- 2010 – SS coupe
- 2011 – SS convertible
- 2014 – Z/28 coupe
- 2016 – Camaro SS (2017 50th Anniversary Edition)
This year’s Indy 500 is scheduled for May 29, 2016. For more information visit indianapolismotorspeedway.com
News source and photos from Chevrolet and General Motors
Story © 2016 CarNichiWa.com