IRL: Aurora to pace 1997 Indy 500

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OLDSMOBILE AURORA TO PACE 1997 INDIANAPOLIS 500 Las Vegas; November 5, 1996 -- An Oldsmobile Aurora will lead the pack of 33 roaring Indy Cars to the green flag at the start of the 1997 Indianapolis...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OLDSMOBILE AURORA TO PACE 1997 INDIANAPOLIS 500

Las Vegas; November 5, 1996 -- An Oldsmobile Aurora will lead the pack of 33 roaring Indy Cars to the green flag at the start of the 1997 Indianapolis 500 on May 25. Oldsmobile's performance luxury sedan has been named the Official Pace Car for the 81st running of the Indy 500 -- the oldest, richest, and most prestigious event in American motorsports. The announcement that Oldsmobile will pace the great race for the ninth time since 1949 was made at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) convention.

"The Aurora's selection as the Official Pace Car of the 1997 Indianapolis 500 has special significance," commented John Gatt, Aurora brand manager. "With the debut of the new Indy Aurora V8 next season, Oldsmobile can make history by pacing the '500' with the same engine that we are racing. No manufacturer has ever done that at Indianapolis.

"In fact, an Oldsmobile has never even competed in the Indy 500 since this classic event began in 1911," Gatt noted. "Our goal is to celebrate Oldsmobile's 100th birthday by winning the Indy 500 in our racing debut at the Brickyard!"

The Aurora Indy 500 Pace Car will be a stock production vehicle, since all Auroras have the performance capabilities to pace an Indy car event. The only modifications required are mandatory United States Auto Club (USAC) safety equipment. The graphite gray interior will be outfitted with a roll bar and five-point driver and passenger safety harnesses. Television cameras will give viewers an up-close look at the starting field during ABC Sport's live broadcast of the race.

The pacesetting Aurora will wear white diamond metallic paint with black and gold highlights and Indy 500 graphics. A power sunroof, 3.71:1 transaxle ratio (included with the Aurora's optional Autobahn package), chrome-plated aluminum alloy wheels and new Goodyear Eagle LS P235/60R16 tires rated for sustained 150mph speed complete the Pace Car equipment.

"Oldsmobile already has a long tradition of pacing the '500,' and in 1997 we are delighted they will begin a new tradition of racing in the '500'," said Tony George, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. "Oldsmobile as a company, and Aurora as a brand, have our sincere appreciation for their dedication to motorsports. We welcome the Aurora as our Official Pace Car at Indy, and look forward to the Aurora V8 Indy Racing League engine competing on the race track."

The Aurora V8 that will power the Indy 500 Pace Car shares its basic design with the 4.0-liter Indy Aurora V8 that is being developed for IRL competition in 1997. The production and racing versions both have aluminum block and cylinder head castings, dual overhead camshafts, 32 valves, and sequential electronic fuel injection. The production Aurora V8 produces 250 horsepower; the racing version is expected to produce over 650 horsepower.

The IMSA road racing version of the Aurora V8 swept the IMSA World SportsCar and Exxon Supreme GT Drivers and Manufacturers Championships in 1996. The new Indy Aurora V8 will make its competition debut at the IRL Indy 200 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on January 25, 1997 -- the first race to be contested under the Indy Racing League's new 4.0-liter naturally aspirated engine formula.

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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 08-Nov-1996

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Series INDYCAR