LENO TO DRIVE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO PACE CAR AT '99 INDY 500 CHICAGO, Feb. 11, 1999 - Comedian Jay Leno, host of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," will drive the new 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Pace Car in the 1999 Indianapolis 500...
LENO TO DRIVE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO PACE CAR AT '99 INDY 500
CHICAGO, Feb. 11, 1999 - Comedian Jay Leno, host of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," will drive the new 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Pace Car in the 1999 Indianapolis 500 on May 30, Speedway and Chevrolet officials announced today. Leno joins actor James Garner as a television personality to drive the Pace Car at the Indy 500. Garner led the field in 1975, 1977 and 1985. "Pacing Indy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I absolutely can't wait," Leno said. Leno is an avid car collector and enthusiast. In fact, a section of "The Tonight Show" Web site is called "Jay's Garage," where he ruminates about all things automotive. This isn't Leno's first association with the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. He served as the emcee of the Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet in 1991. It's also not "The Tonight Show's" first connection with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Leno's predecessor, Johnny Carson, drove a few ceremonial laps around the Speedway in a turbine-powered race car owned by Andy Granatelli in fall 1967. The new Monte Carlo unveiled Feb. 11 at Chicago also will make motorsports history May 30. The car will pace both the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Winston Cup Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, N.C., the first time that one model of car has paced two major motorsports events on the same day. This is the first time that a Monte Carlo will lead an Indianapolis 500 field, but a Chevrolet has paced the field 11 times in the past, including four prior times this decade. 1963 Indianapolis 500 champion Parnelli Jones drove the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car last year after golfer Greg Norman was forced to withdraw from driving duties due to shoulder surgery. Chevrolet's Special Vehicles Department, led by Jon Moss, developed the new Monte Carlo Pace Car based on the 2000 model year production car. The Pace Car is a stock Monte Carlo with very few modifications that enable it to perform its duties in the environment of professional racing. "We're proud of this Pace Car for two reasons," said Don Parkinson, Monte Carlo brand manager. "First, on race day it will represent Monte Carlo at its best, cruising around the track at the head of the pack. Second, it's the beginning of a new generation of Monte Carlo motorsports involvement. We can't wait to see what a new season, and a new Monte Carlo, will bring."