Make it eight Indianapolis 500-Mile Races with a Camaro as the Official Pace Car, now that the 2014 Z/28 will pace this year’s 98th edition of the 500-mile classic, with three-time 500 winner—and four-time IndyCar Series champ--Dario Franchitti at the wheel.
It’s also the 25th time that a Chevrolet has paced the Indy 500 since 1948.
“Dario is a true champion who has earned the respect of competitors and race fans alike,” says Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It will be very special to have Dario lead the field to the green flag in the Camaro Z/28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
Says Dario: “It is a tremendous honor for me to be asked to drive the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. As a historian of motorsport and as a three-time winner of this great race, I will appreciate every minute of getting to pace the field in the new 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. Although I won't be competing in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, this will be as close as one person can get to the action. I can't wait until May in Indianapolis!”
“We are excited to have Dario Franchitti lead this year's Indianapolis 500 starting field to the green flag,” says Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles. “Dario's appearance in the Camaro Z/28 Pace Car will be special for race fans, and it underscores Chevrolet’s important place in the past, present and future of the Indianapolis 500.”
Chevrolet has a long, shared history with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, and the Verizon IndyCar Series. Chevrolet was founded in 1911, the year of the inaugural 500, and the Chevrolet brothers--company co-founder Louis, Arthur and Gaston--all competed in early Indy 500 races, with Gaston winning it in 1920.
In making the announcement this morning, Chevrolet Racing called the ’14 Z/28 “…the most track-capable (Z/28) model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am Series contender introduced in 1967.”
There’s no word yet if Chevrolet Racing is making any high-speed-related upgrades to the Z/28s that will be tabbed for pace-car duty, although with “track capable” ’14 Z/28 features like Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, a 7.0-liter LS7 powerplant, and about 300 pounds less weight than a Camaro SS, those other upgrades may not be needed (as they were for the first-year, fourth-gen Z/28 that paced the 1982 500).
Per Speedway tradition, the Official Pace Car—or an identical-looking one from the pace-car-supplier’s “festival car” fleet—has been a part of the 500 winner’s prize package since 1936. If Chevrolet’s tradition since 1969 continues, you’ll likely be able to get a “Pacesetter” edition of the ’14 Z/28 of your own this spring from your local Chevrolet dealer.
This year’s Indianapolis 500-Mile Race will be held on Sunday, May 25th.