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.
my Pacer passion began !!
need a "driver" Corvette, but one I can keep several
years and sell for what I paid - an "investment vehicle"..
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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??
I did, and sold this car to a person in Michigan in 2007.
in the Garage today???
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....
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 needle..it'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!
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.
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.
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??
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
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.
jokingly commented that I may be interested in buying one
of these "metal cars" with a friend from camaropacecars.com,
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
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.
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 !!
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....
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"
should I ??
100th Anniversary of the first running of the Indianapolis
500 race was celebrated this year, the last of the "Centennial
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.
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.
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!
above is the car in the parade, carrying Dan Wheldon, the
eventual winner of the 500 this year, and his guests!
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!