After the dominating C5-R won the GTS Class at Le Mans for the second consecutive year, the Corvette was again selected by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the race’s sanctioning body, as the official pace car for 2003. Fortunately for Chevrolet, this invitation also nicely coincided with the 50th anniversary of “America’s Sports Car.” Thus for General Motors it would be a fantastic chance to showcase the extremely capable production Corvette to the world.
For this important opportunity records indicate that Chevrolet sent a total of six new 2003 Corvette coupes to France; two to act as Pace Cars while the others were used as Safety Cars. While most race fans know the job of the Pace Car, to start and “pace” the race, the role of the Safety Cars is less well known, but equally as important. A Safety Car is dispatched to any dangerous areas on the course that develop during the race. They are there to alert drivers of hazards such as debris on the track or slick spots. And since the Circuit de la Sarthe is nearly eight and one-half miles long, it is necessary to have multiple Safety Cars posted at strategic spots around the track.
All four Safety Cars were similar in appearance being painted the distinctive “Anniversary Red” (color code 94) and given Champagne-colored aluminum wheels as well as all of the special 50th anniversary badging. Each had the 1SB Preferred Equipment Group of options and the new F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control system. Also these cars were all powered by the aluminum 5.7-liter Chevrolet LS1 V-8 rated at 350 horsepower making them more than capable of performing their important duties on the track quickly.
The car being offered here is one of the four 2003 Corvette coupes sent by Chevrolet to Le Mans for use as Safety Cars. As Le Mans is an exceptionally long road course, apparently as many as three Safety Cars could be deployed at the same time to warn drivers of potential trouble ahead. Along with its special event graphics scheme and North American Signal Company roof-mounted marker lights, it also is equipped with a Simpson three-inch wide five-point safety harnesses for both the driver and a passenger. There is also a Pe Mall hand-held fire extinguisher mounted on the rollbar in the rear compartment.
Interestingly this car is set up as an export model with many unique features intended for the European market. When the car was sold to the public, General Motors issued a branded title from new. The car was not in a flood, a fire or an accident, however, it appears GM wanted no part of potential warranty claims for a car that has seen track time and has modifications from original. The car is currently licensed and titled and is adult road driven in a sparing manner. Needless to say, it is a hit at car shows when the lights are activated.
This particular 2003 Corvette Le Mans Safety Car was retained by General Motors after the race as part of their Heritage Collection. It was subsequently sold when the company was going through bankruptcy proceedings. Since then it has been maintained in remarkably original conditional a single private owner.
Please note this vehicle has a title with rebuilt salvage branding due to its raceway history.