Special Editions: 2008 Corvette Indianapolis 500 Pace Car
Known for their charismatic designs and superior performance, the pack-leading Pace Cars share a special place in Indianapolis 500 lore. History was made at the 2008 Indianapolis 500 when a pair of distinctive yet highly differentiated Corvette models served as the Official Pace Cars — one highlighting Chevrolet’s commitment to fuel solutions and the other marking 30 years of Corvette’s Pace Car heritage.
Chevrolet and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials gathered at the Indianapolis Auto Show to make the historic announcement Dec. 27.
One of the Pace Cars was a customized Corvette Z06 E85 concept that runs on E85 ethanol fuel, a domestically produced alternative fuel similar to the 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol that powers all of the race cars in the IndyCar Series. It was driven during the race’s pace lap by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Emerson Fittipaldi,
The other Official Pace Car (or rather two) were a black-and-siiver commemorative edition Convertible and Coupe that marks the 30th anniversary of the celebrated 1978 Pace Car — the first Corvette to pace the field at the Indianapolis 500. Chevrolet produced a total of 500 Pace Car replicas in both coupe and convertible form, each signed personally
by Fittipaldi at the Corvette’s Bowling Green, Ky., assembly plant
“Although not a production FlexFuel vehicle, the Corvette Z06 E85 concept Pace Car is a high-performance example of Chevrolet’s gas-friendy to gas-free initiative, demonstrating viable fuel solutions,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general
manager. “As an ethanol refiner in his native Brazil, Emerson Fittipaldi is the fiting Chevrolet champion 0 help support GM’s efforts with E85 and celebrate 30 years of the Corvette pacing the Indianapolis 500.”
The 92nd Indianapolis 500 was held on Sunday, May 25, 2008. It was the Corvette’s 10th appearance as the Official Pace Car a record unmatched by any other vehicle.
“I’s only fitting that Corvette wil be the first car to ea the distinction of having two models pace the Indianapolis 500 in the same year.” said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. “Chevrolet and Corvette are a vital part of the rich history of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ and we’re honored to have a great champion of the race and of alternative fuels, Emerson Fittipaldi, as this year’s Pace Car driver.”
About the Corvette 206 E85 concept
The Corvette Z06 E85 concept Pace Car is based on the production Z06 ~ already one of the fastest and most powerful cars on the market — and blends its performance with the high-octane, renewable alternative fuel that is derived from a variety of crops grown across the United States.
E85 is blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Its benefits include reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and a reduced dependence on petroleum. GM is the leader in E85 production models, with more than 2.5 million E85-capable cars, trucks and SUVs on the road — with more on the way. Chevrolet offers seven E85-capable models in 2008.
Apart from the fuel system and powertrain controller revisions required to run E85, the Z06 concept Pace Car is mechanically stock. It is distinguished by a unique Gold Rush Green color-shifting paint scheme that changes between hues of green and gold when viewed from different angles and in different light. A subtle checkered flag pattem also is
part of the paint scheme. Safety equipment and strobe lights are the only other equipment added to the car.
Emerson Fialdi: Ambassador of racing and ethanol
After winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 and 1993 while driving for Chevrolet and spending 30 years in his native Brazil as a refiner of ethanol — Emerson Fittipaldi is the perfect ambassador to lead the Indianapolis 500 in an E85-powered Corvette 206,
“Most of the vehicles in Brazil are powered by ethanol produced from crops grown in the country, 50 | understand how a domestically produced renewable fuel can help the energy solutions of a nation,” Fitipaldi said. *And the E85-powered 206 concept Pace Car proves economic and environmental consciousness can be fun and exhilarating. | can’t wait to get it on the racetrack.”
Fittipaldi, whose personal cars include a Corvette 206 and a Camaro awarded after winning the 1993 Indianapolis 500, resides in both Florida and Brazil. He has interests in several Brazilian ethanol companies and is an ardent champion of ethanol as a viable alterative to gasoline.
Brazil the fifth-largest country in the world — is a global leader in ethanol usage in automobiles. Approximately 70 percent of Brazilian new cars are equipped with FlexFuel systems that allow the use of a gasoline ethanol mix or pure ethanol. Ethanol production has grown tremendously during the last three decades and has allowed the country to practically wean itself completely from imported oil
Scott Dixon won pole position, and when it was all over, he stayed ahead of the trouble, got a boost from his crew and drove to his first Indianapolis 500 victory, driving for Target Ganassi Racing.