My Sensible (Dr. Jekyll) Side - My Indy 500 Pace Cars Past and Present !


Pictured above are the three Indy 500 Pace Car Replicas I currently own. Below I will fill you in on the details of how I obtained them, and some of the notable events where they were at, or notable awards earned during my ownership.

1995....Where my Pacer passion began !!

I need a "driver" Corvette, but one I can keep several years and sell for what I paid - an "investment vehicle"..

Well, since I had my 1998 Custom coupe already, that car was basically a "show car" at the time, with very limited street driving. So, what better idea than to buy "something" that I could enjoy with more street driving, buy at a reasonable price, and in 2-3 years, sell it for what I paid for it? I was starting to consider what I was going to do for my "milestone" 50th Birthday and knew this would not be a long term car. Well, I started to look for that perfect situation. I first looked at the obvious, C3 "midyear" Corvettes, 1996 Corvette Grand Sports, and thought, why not pick up a Pace Car? At that time (2004) my options were limited to those produced at that time, '78, '86, '95, and '98 Replicas.

My options : So, since I had already owned a 1978 Coupe, I knew I did not want another one since to me, those are not what I would enjoy as a "daily driver". For 1986, Chevrolet brought back the Corvette Convertible after an absence of 10 years. To make the point that no special changes were needed for the '86 Convertible to become the Official Pace car for the '86 race, Chevrolet designated ALL 7,315 1986 Convertibles built as "Pace Car Replicas" and they each came with the graphic kits that the owners could install if they wanted to.... not really the basis for an "investment vehicle". In 1998, the Radar Blue Convertible with Yellow and Black interior, and Yellow wheels (lovingly called the "Hot Wheels" cars after those little Mattel toys), was even to me a bit too radical for my taste. That left the 1995. To me, that was the best looking of the Replicas produced, and since the C4 had been out since 1985, was one of the most refined / fun to drive C4's that was made. So it was decided... this is it!

Now, to improve that investment success, I decided to get an Indy 500 "Event car", sometimes called a "Festival car", or "Track car". In my case, for 1995, there were a total of 75 of these purple and white beasts sent to the Speedway to serve as these support vehicles during the month of May. The cars were not numbered sequentially and sent in several groups. My car was #137 and part of a later group that was sent. My car was assigned to a Chevrolet executive for his use. My car had just a little over 11,000 miles on the odo when I took delivery from the seller in Arkansas.

Now I have already discussed the story of my '98 custom being displayed at the National Corvette Museum during 2006 over on my Custom Corvettes page. Well, this car was ALSO on display at the NCM.... during the month of November as a Corvette club special display, and sat on the turntable at the main entrance to the Corvette Museum. In fact, for that one month overlap, BOTH of my currently owned Corvettes were on exhibit there! How did this car get selected? Well, my home club at the time, Corvette Cleveland, was drawn from Corvette clubs that were Club members of the museum. Back at home, it was decided to make it fair, that we would sell raffle tickets to raise money for our charity, and draw a winner from those tickets for the display. Well, I only bought about $10 of tickets I think, but it came time to draw the ticket, and the person who drew it, looked my way, said "let's draw another" knowing that my car was already there, and after drawing 3 tickets or so, finally said, ok, I have drawn the same person three times in a row, so guess who that was.....

Apparently there was not much interest from our club members to try to figure out how to get their car down and back from Ky. and having to drive there twice in November.

I had this car in attendance at the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car Registry reunion, and one of the stops was at Road Atlanta during the Petit LeMans race in October 2005. We joined the rest of the Corvettes in the Corral parking area, and as a first, the Pace Cars were allowed to take a parade lap around the race track immediately prior to the start of the 10 hour Sports Car Endurance Race.

It was also at the all model / all year Pace Car Reunion sponsored by and held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2006, during "bump day" weekend which was a week prior to the running of the race. There is a photo above showing me on a pace lap ("speeding" around the track at a controlled speed of 25mph !) of the Indy 500 race track. One of the exciting things is that the first week of qualifying for the pole was rained out the week before, so we actually were able to see both race qualifying days on one weekend!

So, this was a fun car to drive and in 2006, when I bought that 2006 Silver custom, I thought that was my 50th Birthday gift ..... but.... little did I know there was a special announcement coming.... Chevrolet Corvette was going to pace the Indy 500 again, and for the first time since 1998, they were going to produce replicas (a total of 500) to sell to the public. Oh oh....hmmm, could I get my hands on a 2007 Pace Car that was also used at the race??

Well, I did, and sold this car to a person in Michigan in 2007.

What's in the Garage today???

2007, Well, I'm still 50 years old, right?

That was my thought exactly !! If I had only known about 6 months earlier that the 2007 Pace Cars were going to be produced...maybe, just maybe I would not have bought the '06 Coupe..... but 2006 was really my 50th Birthday year, not 2007, althought I was really still 50 years old....

So I started snooping around about the possibility of purchasing one of the track cars and counting my pennies... Through my relationship in the Corvette Pace Car Registry I was offered the opportunity to participate in the annual "media day" events by a friend who was responsible for organizing this event in early April 2007. This year, 57 Corvette Pace Cars were sent to the Speedway for support duties. Media day is when the 33 or so "Festival cars" are given out to the board members of the "500 Festival Committee". Additionally, there are more that are loaned to local officials and track staff at the Speedway. I was part of a crew of 10 people who the day before moved the Pace Cars around for photo shoots out on the track. Seeing, touching and driving these Atomic Orange wonders left me with no choice but to try to get one !! My same contact was able to get me on the "vip" list for those interested in buying one after race and all I had to do was wait for the call.

Since I was pretty confident that I would get one, I made it a point to get back to the Speedway on Community day, and had a friend who attended the "500 Festival" parade held the Saturday before the race take plenty of photos for me. Since I did not know what I would get, I wanted to photo document as much of the activities and photograph as many car numbers as I could.

Originally my hope was that if the cars were numbered as such, I could pick up #50. They were, but that number was already reserved for a local Chevrolet dealer. Next choice, #56, also gone, so how about #18, the year I first purchased a Corvette? Yes, it was available and after the race I was contacted to finalize the deal by Bill Estes Chevrolet in Indianapolis. My car was assigned to Sheriff John Anderson. I was told I would receive all of the event documentation with the car, but that was not the case. It took me a full year of tracking these items down, but I'm happy to report that thanks to a lot of friends at Chevrolet, in Indy, and other paths I now have all of my documentation. Event license plate #18, the photo book, and all the rest!

I took the photo above of the row of Pace Cars sitting on pitlane during the Media day festivities, and my car is the third car from the left.

So what have I been doing with the car? Enjoying it. Driving it when weather permits, and doing an occasional car show or cruise in.
I have had the car to several special events too. It has been back to the Corvette Museum for events too.

I attended the final "Corvettes at MIS" car show at Michigan International Speedway in August 2007, held the same weekend as the Indy Racing League race (this was the final year for that since the IRL and CART series merged the following year and this race was dropped). On qualifying day, at the end of qualifying, all of the Corvettes were able to take "parade" laps...... uh, ya, well it's probably a good thing you can't read that speedometer's the one on the right of the cluster pointing up to the right.... but the navigation system helped out a lot.... it just kept saying, turn left, turn left... (lol). Gary, one of my friends from American Custom Industries was in my right seat, taking photos. Quite a different "parade lap" that what we have been seeing at the Indy Motor Speedway!

During 2008, the Central Indiana Camaro Club and Chevrolet organized another Chevrolet Pace Vehicle (have to include those years where pickups or SSR's were pace or support vehicles) event and this year I attended with my 2007. Pictured to the left is me driving on the Speedway (again at just 25 mph) about to cross the "yard of bricks" on our parade lap.

The latest "big event" I attended was the 2010 edition of the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car Registry Reunion. This time around, we were treated to a lot of those same venue events that I attended thru the "Performance Tour II" with the '06 Custom. So, yes this car also was able to take laps around the Milford Proving Ground track.


I have had the inside of the center console lid autographed by both Dario Franchitti (race winner) and Helio Castroneves (race pole position winner). And I also have a 1:24 scale Diecast replica signed by the actual Pace Car driver, Patrick Dempsey, TV star from the "Grey's Anatomy" TV show. I continue to collect any and all 2007 race memorabilia I may be missing and some of my more recent purchases have been a Miller Light 2007 Indy 500 event Neon bar sign, and a life-size cardboard standup of Dario Franchitti, the race winner. When will it end??

2010, Is it just a coincidence?

So here comes 2010. And for the 2010 Indy 500 race, Chevrolet announces that the Inferno Orange Camaro SS is to be the Pace Car, and announces they will be making a limited number of replicas for sale to the public. Well, I was never really a big Camaro fan myself. Of all Camaro's made, my favorite was the '69 and these were just "used cars" when I finally reached driving age and was already fascinated with Corvettes.

Nice car, and I did not really think that much about it. But, as the race approaced, I attended Friday "Carbureation day" practice and the "500 Festival parade" once again, and these things started to grow on me. After the race, a rare event occurred..... Dario won the race again, and Helio started the race from pole position again, as they both did in 2007. Additionally, the Speedway is celebrating their 100th Anniversay over 3 years. They call it their "Centennial Years" , and they run from 2009 thru 2011, so that is another notable reason to want to own one of these to me.

I jokingly commented that I may be interested in buying one of these "metal cars" with a friend from, if I could locate #18, the same number as my 2007 Corvette. Well sure enough, he came thru and told me which dealer had it, and even gave me the name of a contact who was the store manager for a good deal ! It was just too easy this time around !

I was pleasantly surprised when I went to pick up the car at the dealer in Anderson, In. ALL of the documentation and memorabilia was nicely packaged with the car. And, after owning my car a few weeks, I received another pleasant surprise. I was shown the "build sequence list" of the cars produced.

This year, Chevrolet made 295 Camaro replicas. Only 50 of the cars were assigned to the track as support vehicles. 44 stayed in Canada (where the assembly plant is) as "export vehicles", and the rest (201) were sent to dealers in the USA to be sold as they were produced. But, what is important, is that my car, is the VERY FIRST Camaro pace car built of all 294 !!

And if you could not see it that well, if you look at the fuse box cover on the left, just in front of the engine, you will see a bunch of silver scribbling there..... Yes, that is also Dario and Helio's autographs, to match the console lid of my 2007 Corvette Pace Car....

I really am impressed with the Camaro. It's a different car than the Corvette of course, but still a lot of fun to drive. I've taken it to a few Camaro events during 2010, and in 2011, the Indy Motor Speedway is once again having a Pace Car reunion, so this time around, I am going to take the Camaro back "home" to Indiana.

2011, should I ??

The 100th Anniversary of the first running of the Indianapolis 500 race was celebrated this year, the last of the "Centennial Era"
3-year celebration. As mentioned in my last paragraph, I did attend the 2011 IMS Pace Car Reunion with my 2010 Camaro and had a great time.

Leading up to that event, photos began to surface as well as the unveiling of the 2011 Indy 500 Pace Car, once again a Camaro, but this time a Convertible. The paint and graphics scheme was to be reminiscent of the 1969 White/Orange stripe exterior with Orange Houndstooth interior (fortunately for my taste, the Houndstooth did not make it to production.). This year once again, 50 cars were to be used as Festival and Track vehicles and a total of 500 replicas were produced.

I began to sniff around at the possibility of once again snagging Festival car #18. After a long wait and several failed negotiations with the dealership who the car was distributed to after the race (you know who you are), I was fortunate to cut a deal on Festival car #17. This car was actually a lower mileage car at delivery time, and was in the 500 Festival Parade held each year on the Saturday before the race. This is my first Pacer that was actually in the parade!

Pictured above is the car in the parade, carrying Dan Wheldon, the eventual winner of the 500 this year, and his guests!

While garage space is truly at a premium now, I could not pass up on getting the "negative" edition of my 2010 Camaro (Orange/White vs. White/Orange) plus it has the provenance of carrying the race winner! One other unique item is that of all 50 cars used at the Speedway that I photographed, only two cars (one is mine) for some reason did not have an SS badge on the trunk lid? I am trying to get to the root of this issue.... more trivia!


Copyright information : This is a personal website and not affiliated with General Motors, Chevrolet, or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and they own their Copyrights.
Any originally developed content and personal photos on this website is Copyright 2011 by Bob Kirsch.
The intent is to simply share my adventures with these great American built Automobiles.