Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Joie Chitwood and Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper introduced two Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 pace cars at a ceremony opening the 94th annual Indianapolis Auto Show on Thursday (December 27th).
Former World Champion and twice Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi was introduced as the pace car driver as well.
The two cars, one a Z06 convertible and the other a hardtop Vette concept car, will share duties on Memorial Day (May 25th, 2008) as Chevrolet and the Speedway commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of a Corvette pace car taking the 33-car IndyCar field to the green flag.
The convertible model is painted in the same black and silver of its 1978 predecessor and pleasantly familiar to many racing and Corvette enthusiasts.
The hardtop sports a cool light-sensitive paint that changes colors from green, to blue, to yellow depending on ambient conditions and angle of view. Beneath the enamel is a subtle checkerboard pattern faintly visible under all conditions.
The Z06 hardtop also runs on E-85 ethanol fuel, in harmony with the Indy Racing League's pure ethanol-fueled racing engines dating to the 2007 season.
"The Corvette Z06 E85 concept pace car is a high-performance example of Chevrolet's gas-friendly to gas-free initiative," said Peper, "demonstrating our commitment to viable fuel solutions."
Fittipaldi, in his business life an owner of ethanol-refining facilities in his native Brazil, spoke via taped broadcast and said, "I am particularly pleased to return to Indianapolis. It holds a special place in my life. I can't wait to get back on the racetrack."
"Most of the vehicles in Brazil are powered by ethanol, so I understand how a domestically produced fuel can help the energy solutions of a nation," he continued.
Fittipaldi won the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 and in 1993, on both occasions powered by Chevrolet racing engines.
The 2008 Indy 500 will mark the record tenth time that a Chevy Corvette has paced the famous auto race known the world over as "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."