Corvette ZR1 is fastest, most powerful Indy 500 pace car ever

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2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 to pace 102nd Indianapolis 500

The practice of employing a pace car to start an automobile race originated with the very first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. There were 31 races over “the bricks” before a Chevrolet finally paced the field in 1948. In the years since that first appearance, the Bowtie division has been the most prominent manufacturer at the Brickyard. It will once again have a prominent role this weekend as GM’s top performance car will set the pace on the famous 2.5-mile oval.

The Chevrolet Motor Company was founded in 1911, the same year as the first 500-Mile Race. Company co-founder Louis Chevrolet, along with brothers Arthur and Gaston, competed in early Indy 500 races. Arthur Chevrolet competed in the 1911 race, and Gaston Chevrolet won the race in 1920.

“Chevrolet and IMS enjoy one of the longest-running and strongest bonds in motorsports,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “Seeing all of the incredible Corvettes that have paced the Indianapolis 500 on the track today (at press conference) is an exciting reminder of the rich history of this great relationship. This year’s Pace Car, the 2019 Corvette ZR1, is an incredible, fast machine that is a perfect fit to lead the ‘500’ field to the green flag.”

The 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 makes a very public appearance at the race. The dark blue and red ZR1 is the 15th Corvette to perform pace car duties for the race. No other vehicle has served as a pace car more than Corvette. “The ZR1 is the most powerful and fastest Corvette ever made. It’s the perfect choice to pace ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’” said Steve Majoros, marketing director for Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers.

For 2019, the ZR1 Model returns with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 producing 755 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque. It’s the most powerful pace car to lead the pack – and it’s unmodified.

The rest of the Corvette ZR1 Pace Car specs include power distribution via an 8-speed 8L90 paddle-shift automatic transmission and Magnetic Selective Ride Control. Stopping power comes courtesy of a Brembo Carbon Ceramic brake system stopping ZR1 chrome-aluminum wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, 19-inch front, and 20-inch rears.

Additional grip comes courtesy of the standard Performance Traction Management and Electronic Limited-Slip Differential and performance suspension.

Exterior modifications include special Blue and Red paint scheme, unique 102nd Indy 500 graphics, ZTK Performance Package featuring a stanchion-mounted adjustable carbon-fiber high rear wing, and a GM Design fully-integrated safety strobe system.

In the spirit of performance, Chevrolet claims the Corvette ZR1 Pace Car can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.85 seconds and reach a top track speed of 212 mph – the fastest Corvette in history. That speed would have earned the Corvette ZR1 the pole position for the 1985 race. During the race, the ZR1 won’t have to go that fast. Typically, a pace car will have to hit a top speed of around 125 mph coming off turn 4 to stay ahead of the 33 race cars and duck onto pit road as the race cars head toward the starter’s stand to take the green flag.

During green-flag race conditions the pace car must run at idle to be ready for action at a moment’s notice. There are three Corvettes that are prepped to serve as pace cars. Traditionally, the race winner will receive a replica pace car edition, but Chevrolet will not offer any replicas this year. The race winner will receive a production 2019 Corvette ZR1 that comes with most of the pace car’s performance goodies.

Previous Chevrolet pace cars have ranged from standard production coupes, convertibles, and hand-built prototypes. The majority of Chevrolets that have completed their Memorial weekend tour of duty at IMS have been Camaros or Corvettes, but there have been other vehicles. The list includes the previously mentioned 1948 Fleetmaster Six convertible, 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible, 1990 Beretta convertible concept, 2000 Monte Carlo coupe, and a 2003 SSR convertible pickup.

Base Price for the ZR1 Corvette is $122,000 with a retail price of $124,995 with the optional ZTK Performance Package.

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