DETROIT (May 18, 1999) – Millions of spectators, broadcast viewers and listeners from around the world will be focused on the western region of France as one of Chevrolet’s fifth-generation family of Corvettes (referred to as C5) will pace an international field of sports cars as the Official Pace Car of the 67th running of the Le Mans 24 Hour race on June 12-13, 1999.
Located 150 miles west of Paris in Le Mans, France, this legendary racing event is an absolute endurance test of both man and machine. By becoming part of the rich history and tradition of Le Mans, automakers take the challenge to prove their “global” expertise in automotive engineering and design.
Corvette’s participation as the Official Pace Car of the Le Mans 24 Hour race is a key component of Chevrolet’s strategy to reinforce Corvette’s image as a world-class sports car. Involvement in such a global event showcases the fact that Corvettes are sold not only in the U.S., but around the world as well.
“Corvette is honored to be selected as the official pace car of one of the most prestigious endurance races on earth, and we look forward to showing the entire world why sports-car lovers are so passionate about the new Corvette,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s Corvette brand manager.
Chevrolet officially returned to American road racing earlier this year with the introduction of the C5-R, a GM-engineered GTS sports car based on the production Corvette. For now, the C5-R will compete in select sports-car races in the U.S. for the remainder of the ’99 season in its pursuit of improving the breed and competing internationally.
Dave Hill, vehicle line executive and chief engineer, Corvette, said Chevrolet wanted to use the race program to “showcase Corvette’s great integrity, quality and pure sports-car character. We want to increase consumer share of mind for the C5 Corvette not only in the U.S., but globally as well.”
All 1999 Corvettes come standard with a 345-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 LS1 aluminum block engine, a six-speed manual transmission, a 3.42 limited-slip rear axle ratio, the Z51 suspension package (designed for sanctioned racing competition), speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering, anti-lock (ABS) brakes, electronic traction control and Goodyear Eagle F-1 GS run-flat tires. Only the Corvette coupe and convertible are offered in the international marketplace.
The only modifications made to the production vehicles for pace car duties include custom wheels and exhaust system, a unique paint scheme and installation of roof-mounted safety lights.