With 650 horsepower on tap, the Z06 is among the fastest, most powerful cars ever to serve as pace car for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – right up there, at any rate, with the ZR1 that led the field in 2012 and the Viper GTS from 1996. For this year's race, it's been decked out in white with special graphics, strobe lights and a red interior. The 99th running of the race will mark the 13th time a Corvette has been tapped for the honor.
Gordon, a name better known to NASCAR fans, but certainly no stranger to the track, will handle driving duties. The four-time Sprint Cup champion has won the Brickyard 400 no less than five times, including the very first time it was held back in '94.
No driver has won at Indy more than Gordon – a record he shares with Michael Schumacher, who won the US Grand Prix there five times. (AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears share the record for Indy 500 victories at four apiece, in case you were wondering.) It'll be a busy Sunday for Gordon, who will also be competing in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on the same day.
Five-time Brickyard winner will lead pack for 99th running of the Indianapolis 500
INDIANAPOLIS – Five-time Brickyard 400 winner and four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon will drive a Corvette Z06 pace car for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race, May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It is the 13th time a Corvette has served as the official pace car, dating to 1978, and the 26th time a Chevrolet has led the pack for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Corvette has served as the pace car more than any other vehicle in the race's history.
Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., is no stranger to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1994 he won the inaugural Brickyard 400 – the first-ever NASCAR race at the Brickyard, and has visited the winner's circle there four more times. That makes him one of only two five-time winners at Indy in any series. Michael Schumacher won five Formula One races there.
"It's great to have Jeff Gordon serve as this year's pace car driver," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. "He is a true champion who has earned the respect and admiration of competitors and race fans alike. It will be very special to have Jeff lead the Indy 500 field to the green flag, behind the wheel of the most powerful and capable production car ever from Chevrolet – on a day he'll also be competing in the Coca Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway."
With 650 supercharged horsepower, a seven-speed manual transmission and a track-capable chassis system, Gordon will have no trouble keeping in front of the race field in the production-spec Corvette Z06. Featuring an Arctic White exterior and Adrenaline Red interior, only its unique Indy graphics package and safety strobe lights distinguish it from other production models.
"Indy is hallowed ground for racers like me and I couldn't be more thrilled to drive the Corvette Z06 pace car around the track that helped drive my success over the years," Gordon said. "The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most celebrated races of the year and an event I always dreamed of racing while growing up in California and in nearby Pittsboro. I've won five NASCAR races at IMS and the track will always be a special place for me, so to be able to participate in such a historic day will be something I remember for the rest of my life."
Like Gordon, Chevrolet has a long, shared heritage with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Chevrolet was founded in 1911, the year of the inaugural 500-mile race, and the Chevrolet brothers – company co-founder Louis, Arthur and Gaston – all competed in early Indy 500 races. Arthur Chevrolet competed in the 1911 race and Gaston Chevrolet won it in 1920.
"Jeff is a great choice to lead this year's starting 33 drivers in Indianapolis 500 to the green flag," said J. Douglas Boles, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Jeff has such a strong connection to the state of Indiana and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his appearance in the Corvette Z06 pace car reinforces Chevrolet's important place in the past, present and future of the Indianapolis 500 as well. We also look forward to seeing him back here on July 26, to see if he can make it six wins for the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard."
"Jeff Gordon is a NASCAR legend, an icon of global motorsports and has a special history of success racing at The Brickyard in Indianapolis and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte," said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. "This is a unique honor for him to be recognized in this way by our partners at Chevrolet and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The day certainly will be another special one in the storied history that Jeff already has written at Indianapolis and Charlotte."
About the Corvette Z06
The Z06 rejoined the Corvette lineup for 2015 as the most capable model in the iconic car's 62-year history. It stretches the performance envelope for Corvette with unprecedented levels of aerodynamic downforce – and it is the first Corvette Z06 to offer a supercharged engine, an eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission and, thanks to a stronger aluminum frame, a removable roof panel.
The new LT4 supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine is SAE-certified at 650 horsepower (485 kW) at 6,400 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque (881 Nm) at 3,600 rpm – making the 2015 Corvette Z06 the most powerful production car ever from General Motors and one of the most powerful production cars available in the United States. With the available Z07 package, its capability enables:
- 0-60 mph acceleration in 2.95 seconds with the eight-speed automatic and 3.2 seconds with the seven-speed manual transmission
- Quarter-mile times of 10.95 seconds at 127 mph with the eight-speed and 11.2 seconds at 127 mph with the seven-speed transmission
- Lateral acceleration of 1.2 g
- 60-0 mph braking in only 99.6 feet – the best of any production car tested by General Motors.
The Z07 package adds adjustable front and rear aero components for unprecedented aerodynamic downforce, Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup tires for enhanced grip, and Brembo carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors that improve braking performance and contribute to greater handling through reduced un-sprung weight.
The Z06 also offers an all-new, industry-leading Performance Data Recorder that enables users to record high-definition video, with telemetry overlays, of their driving experiences on and off the track.
Race fans can follow Jeff Gordon and his Corvette Z06 Pace Car experience on Twitter at #JGPace2Race.
FAST FACT: The first Chevrolet Indianapolis 500 pace car was a 1948 Fleetmaster Six convertible, driven by three-time Indy 500 winner Wilbur Shaw, who also became president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling around 4.8 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.