FOR RELEASE: April 10, 2002
CONTACT: Chevrolet Communications
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – A special 50th Anniversary Edition of Chevrolet's upcoming 2003 Corvette was unveiled today as the Official Pace Car of this year's Indianapolis 500. Taking part in the announcement at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was motion picture actor Jim Caviezel, who will serve as driver of the Corvette pace car.
The 86th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2002, will bring together three powerful symbols that stir the imaginations of enthusiasts around the world: Chevrolet, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hollywood.
Corvette will perform Indy 500 pace car duties for the fifth time. This also marks the 13th time a Chevrolet vehicle has served as the official pace car – the most appearances by any brand.
"This year's Memorial Day classic will showcase America's favorite sports car at the greatest spectacle in racing," said Rick Baldick, Corvette brand manager. "It will also be a milestone event for the history books, as it signals the start of a yearlong celebration leading up to Corvette's 50th anniversary in 2003."
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the site of many memorable events since the facility opened in 1909. For the fans, this year's Indy 500 is anticipated to be one of the best yet.
"The Indianapolis 500 and Chevrolet have had a longtime relationship," said Tony George, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "It's an honor to have the 50th Anniversary Edition Corvette make its world debut at the head of the pack and to have Chevrolet return to open-wheel racing with its new Chevy Indy V8 for the Indy Racing League.
"Having an enthusiastic fan of motorsports like Jim Caviezel at the wheel of the pace car adds to the excitement for our fans," noted George.
Caviezel plays the lead role of Tom Chapman in "High Crimes," the soon-to-be-released 20th Century Fox movie centered around an alleged military deserter charged with participating in a mass killing in El Salvador. The Mount Vernon, Wash., native can be seen in the title role of Edmond Dantes in "The Count of Monte Cristo." To date, the closest Caviezel has come to participating in any form of motorsports has been in the starring role in "Madison," a true story about the community of Madison, Ind., and its desire to win a Gold Cup hydroplane race.
"Without a doubt about it," said Caviezel, "pacing the Indy 500 is certainly an opportunity of a lifetime. From a Hollywood perspective, winning an Academy Award is the ultimate honor one can received. For a race fan like me, being in control of the Corvette pace car ahead of those 33 race machines will be an adrenaline rush second to none."
Does the future for the 33-year-old actor ever see him capturing both Hollywood's top honor and an IRL checkered flag? "I know I could win a race," quipped a confident Caviezel, "but only if it was written into a movie script. For me, an Oscar™ would come easier."
The 86th running of the Indianapolis 500 marks the return of Chevrolet to the most hallowed ground in motorsports. Chevrolet will compete in the Indy 500 for the first time since 1993 with the all-new Chevy Indy V8 racing engine. Chevrolet won 86 Indy-style races, including six Indianapolis 500 victories, and five series championships in 1986-93.
"We're proud that the 2003 Corvette has been named Official Pace Car of the 86th Indianapolis 500," said Kurt Ritter, Chevrolet general manager. "The excitement that builds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from opening day until the checkered flag falls mirrors the excitement that is building around Corvette's 50th anniversary.
"Chevrolet's racing heritage began with company co-founder Louis Chevrolet, who gained international fame as an engineer and race car driver," Ritter noted. "I wouldn't be surprised if the bronze statue of him that stands outside the Hall of Fame Museum was smiling at the news about Corvette and Chevy's return to the Brickyard."
The Corvette that will serve as the Indy 500 Pace Car is virtually identical to the 50th Anniversary Edition Coupe available for purchase later this summer through local Chevrolet dealerships. It's equipped with a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 engine that produces 350 horsepower in production trim. Corvette incorporates advanced technology such as hydroformed frame rails, Active Handling System, driver-selectable suspension modes and optional Head-Up Display.
Like every Corvette built since June 1981, the pace car was produced at General Motors' Bowling Green, Ky., assembly plant. Few modifications to the vehicle were made to prepare it for pace car duty. They include application of the special exterior graphics wrapped over the "Anniversary Red" exterior and a lower restriction muffler system. Inclusion of four-point racing-type safety belts and a safety strobe light system have been made as required by the Indy Racing League. Use of heavy-duty transmission and steering coolers add further assurance of optimum performance in the harsh environment of professional racing.
"The cars that compete in the Indianapolis 500 are finely built machines that are designed for maximum speed," said Baldick. "Corvette is just as purposeful in its own right. For 49 years, Corvette has remained true to its sports car heritage. Corvette combines power, performance, handling and technology – while delivering the maximum amount of driving pleasure to those who value high performance.
"When Corvette and Jim Caviezel lead the field to the green flag on May 26, it will be the start of something big for racing fans and for all Corvette enthusiasts around the world," added Baldick.
Chevrolet has paced the Indianapolis 500 a total of 12 times, more than any other brand: