Indy 500 Pace Cars

The Indianapolis 500, also known as the Indy 500, is one of the most prestigious and well-known car races in the world. The event has been held annually since 1911 and is known for its high speeds, dangerous turns, and intense competition. One key element of the race is the pace car, which leads the field of cars during the warm-up laps before the start of the race. In this article, we’ll explore what a pace car is, who drives it at the Indy 500, how fast it goes, and whether there has been any pace car crashes over the years.

What is a pace car in the indy 500?

A pace car is a car that leads the field of race cars during the warm-up laps before the start of a race. The purpose of the pace car is to set a safe and consistent speed for the drivers to follow, as well as to provide a visual reference for the drivers to help them navigate the course. The pace car also plays an important safety role, as it can be used to slow down or stop the race if there is an accident or other dangerous situation on the track.

At the Indy 500, the pace car is a specially chosen car that is often a high-performance or exotic model. The pace car is often used as a way to showcase new or upcoming models from car manufacturers, and as a result, the pace car can sometimes be just as much of a draw for spectators as the race itself.

What kind of car is the Indy 500 pace car?

The type of car used as the pace car for the Indy 500 varies from year to year and is typically chosen by the race organizers in collaboration with the automaker that provides the pace car. In recent years, some of the cars used as pace cars for the Indy 500 have included high-performance models from well-known automakers such as Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford.

For example, the pace car for the 2022 Indy 500 was a 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and also announced to be the 2023 NASCAR pace car.

The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 boasts a powerful 5.5-liter engine that delivers an impressive 670 horsepower, setting a new record as the most potent naturally aspirated V8 engine in a production car available in the U.S. market. The vehicle also comes equipped with the Z07 Performance Package, featuring advanced features such as a carbon fiber rear wing, ground effects, and carbon ceramic brakes.

In addition to its impressive performance capabilities, the 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 has been selected as the pace car for the Indy 500 for the 33rd time since 1948. This marks the 19th time in a role that a Corvette has served in this capacity, with the first being in 1978. The Corvette’s recurring selection as the pace car highlights its enduring legacy as a high-performance sports car that has captured the hearts and minds of auto enthusiasts around the world.

In previous years, other notable cars that have been used as pace cars for the Indy 500 have included the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger, and the Chevrolet Camaro. The selection of the pace car is often a closely watched event and is typically viewed as an opportunity for automakers to showcase their latest and most impressive models

Who drives the pace car at the Indy 500?

The driver of the pace car at the Indy 500 is typically a high-profile celebrity or public figure. In recent years, famous drivers, actors, and even astronauts have had the honor of driving the pace car at the Indy 500. The selection of the pace car driver is often a closely guarded secret until just before the race, adding to the excitement and anticipation of the event.

Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars and Drivers:

2022Chevrolet Corvette Z06Sarah Fisher
2021Chevrolet Corvette ConvertibleDanica Patrick
2020Chevrolet Corvette StingrayMark Reuss
2019Chevrolet Corvette Grand SportDale Earnhardt Jr
2018Chevrolet Corvette ZR1Victor Oladipo
2017Chevrolet Corvette Grand SportJeffrey Dean Morgan
2016Chevrolet CamaroRoger Penske
2015Chevrolet Corvette Z06Jeff Gordon
2014Chevrolet Camaro Z28Dario Franchitti
2013Chevrolet C7 Corvette StingrayJim Harbaugh
2012Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1Guy Fieri
2011Chevrolet CamaroA. J. Foyt
2010Chevrolet Camaro SSRobin Roberts
2009Chevrolet Camaro SSJosh Duhamel
2008Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06 E85Emerson Fittipaldi
2007Chevrolet Corvette C6Patrick Dempsey
2006Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06 coupeLance Armstrong
2005Chevrolet Corvette C6 convertibleGeneral Colin Powell
2004Chevrolet Corvette C5Morgan Freeman
2003Chevrolet SSRHerb Fishel
200250th Anniversary Chevrolet Corvette C5Jim Caviezel
2001Oldsmobile BravadaElaine Irwin Mellencamp
Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars and Drivers since 2001

How fast does the pace car go?

The speed of the pace car at the Indy 500 varies depending on the track conditions and other factors. In general, the pace car travels at a speed of around 100-120 mph during the warm-up laps. This speed is designed to be safe and consistent, allowing the drivers to warm up their engines and tires without pushing their cars to the limit.

During caution periods or other times when the pace car needs to slow down the field, the pace car can travel at a much slower speed, or even come to a complete stop if necessary. The pace car driver is responsible for maintaining a safe and consistent speed throughout the race, and for communicating with the race officials and drivers if any issues arise.

Has the pace car ever crashed?

Over the years, there have been a few instances where the pace car has been involved in accidents or close calls at the Indy 500. One of the most notable incidents occurred in 1971, when the pace car, a Dodge Challenger, crashed into a photographer’s stand at the start of the race. The incident led to injuries and damage to the stand, but fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.

In 1996, the pace car, a Dodge Viper, spun out on the track during a caution period, causing some damage to the car and delaying the race for several minutes. In another incident in 2018, the pace car, a Chevrolet Corvette, crashed into a wall during a warm-up lap, causing some damage to the car and delaying the start of the race.

While these incidents are rare, they serve as a reminder of the importance of safety at the Indy 500 and other racing events. The pace car driver and race officials work together to ensure that the race is as safe and enjoyable as possible for everyone involved.


The pace car has become a defining element of the iconic Indianapolis 500, providing a thrilling spectacle for racing fans and showcasing the latest and greatest automobiles on the market. The selection of the pace car is always a closely-watched event, with automakers jostling for the chance to showcase their most impressive models at this prestigious race. Over the years, the pace car has been driven by a variety of notable figures, including celebrities, politicians, and race car drivers, and has become an enduring symbol of American automotive culture. As the Indy 500 continues to captivate audiences and push the boundaries of automotive engineering, the pace car will undoubtedly remain a beloved tradition for years to come.

Armaan Ebrahim
Armaan Ebrahim
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