The pace cars selected for the Indy 500 race and their associated celebrity drivers are an anticipated highlight of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” since 1911. The pace cars were brought in to allow for a “rolling start” which is credited to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl G. Fisher. Pace cars in recent years have been driven by celebrities for the starting unscored warm-up lap with experienced race drivers taking the honors during the race itself.
In 1911, the first Indy 500 pace car was a Stoddard-Dayton driven by Carl G. Fisher. Fisher drove the pace cars through 1915, his final pace car being a Packard “6.” Early pace cars and drivers varied afterward and included Louis Chevrolet in 1926 with a Chrysler Imperial “80,” Edsel Ford in 1932 with his Lincoln, and Henry Ford II in 1946 with a Lincoln Continental. Other models used for pace cars include the Chevrolet Bel Air in 1955, Oldsmobile 98 in 1960, Ford Mustang in 1964, Chevrolet Camaro in 1967, and Dodge Challenger in 1971.
Since 1936, tradition has the winner of the Indianapolis 500 receiving the pace car or a replica of that year’s pace car. Many of the actual pace cars are owned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the car manufacturers. Because of the rarity of the Indy 500 pace cars, they are highly collectible. Muscle car enthusiasts look for distinctive features such as four-point racing harnesses, flags, or strobe lights to determine if a car is really a pace car or if it is instead a replica or Indy 500 festival car.
If you collect rare cars such as Indy 500 pace cars, you need collector car insurance that can cover your classic collection. Classic Auto Insurance offers low rates, agreed value, roadside assistance, and car club membership discounts. Contact us today for a free collector car insurance quote online.
About the Author
Drew Yagodnik is Vice President of Classic Automobile Insurance Agency, Inc. Classic Automobile Insurance Agency has been protecting collector, classic and exotics since 1992.