IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2004-02-24

Indy Racing League Notebook Chevy SSR To Pace The Field During 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series Season INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004 -- The Chevy SSR, similar to one that paced the field at last year's Indianapolis 500, will serve as the...

Indy Racing League Notebook
Chevy SSR To Pace The Field During 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series Season

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004 -- The Chevy SSR, similar to one that paced the field at last year's Indianapolis 500, will serve as the official pace vehicle for all 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series® events, with the exception of the 88th Indianapolis 500 in May.

The selection of this exciting vehicle continues General Motors' tradition of leading the IRL IndyCar® Series field, which began with the League's founding in 1996. It also marks the first time a truck-based Chevrolet will lead the charge to the green flag.

The two SSR vehicles prepared for pace duties are virtually identical to the vehicles available in showrooms.

Chevy's SSR is truly a unique vehicle, blending the characteristics of an open-air roadster with the styling of a pickup. A highlight of SSR's design is a unique one-button, power-operated retractable hardtop that stores vertically and out of sight in a separate compartment located between the passenger and rear-stowage areas.

The frame and chassis of the SSR are similar in design to Chevy's midsize TrailBlazer family of sport utilities. All major exterior panels are of one-piece stamped steel. Under the hood is an aluminum-block version of GM's Vortec 5300 (5.3-liter) small-block V8 that develops 300 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 335 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. That power drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. Rounding out the SSR's sporty, street-machine appearance are 19-inch front and 20-inch rear tires and wheels.

"The SSR brings a high-profile, high-image vehicle to the IndyCar Series that is sure to thrill race fans," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president of business affairs for the IRL. "We can't wait to see it pacing the field throughout the 2004 IndyCar Series season."

Few modifications were made to the vehicles to prepare them for pacing the IndyCar Series field.

On the exterior, distinctive red, white and blue accents and the IndyCar Series logos are added to the standard production Slingshot Yellow paint. Chevrolet's new "An American Revolution" marketing slogan also is featured prominently on the vehicle.

Inside, racing-type safety belts have been added. Inclusion of heavy-duty engine and transmission oil coolers, higher rate springs and shocks, and a lower restriction exhaust system provide further assurance of optimum performance in the harsh environment of professional racing. A safety strobe light bar has been recessed into the tailgate.

On and off the track, Chevrolet offers products with great design, innovative features and commitment to both quality and technology. The new "An American Revolution" marketing theme captures Chevrolet's pride and passion for innovation, and for success not only in motorsports, but also as it launches 10 new car and truck products in 20 months.

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Buhl to visit hospital in Miami: IndyCar Series driver Robbie Buhl will visit patients at Miami Children's Hospital at 10 a.m. (EST) on Feb. 26.

Buhl, driver of the No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, is in his 15th year as national spokesperson for the Racing for Kids charity and visits hospitalized children in each IndyCar Series market.

Buhl will be joined by Dr. William Pinsky, founder of Racing for Kids, and J. Patrick Wright, the charity's executive director.

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Kickoff party for IndyCar Series season opener: A party to celebrate the start of the 2004 IndyCar Series season will take place Feb. 29 at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort & Inn at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the ESPN telecast of the Toyota Indy 300.

There is no cost for admission for the party, located in the Brickyard Crossing Pavilion. A buffet will be available for $8.95 starting at 11:30 a.m. (EST). A cash bar also is available.

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The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on Feb. 29, 2004, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The 2004 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season begins with the Homestead Miami 100 at 11:45 a.m. (EST) on Feb. 29, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast on tape delay on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. on March 4.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robbie Buhl