Last weekend, the Toyota Mirai became the first hydrogen-fueled car to pace a NASCAR race, replacing the more common, V-8-powered Chevys and Fords for the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway. Now, it seems that things are back to normal in the U.S. racing scene, with IndyCar nominating the 2015 Corvette Z06 to pace the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24th. Yay!

More good news comes from the fact that the Indy-liveried Z06 will be driven by four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon. The organizer’s choice isn’t surprising here, as Gordon is also a five-time Brickyard 400 winner, also held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon, now in his 23rd NASCAR season (man I feel old), has never competed in the Indianapolis 500, meaning he will turn his first laps during the famed event in a pace car.

"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."

Gordon, who is retiring from full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the end of the 2015 season, will also compete in the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 the same day. The 43-year-old will fly to Charlotte Motor Speedway as soon as the checkered flag drops at Indianapolis. What a guy!

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

Why it matters

Jeff Gordon To Pace Indy 500 In Corvette Z06
- image 628752

Arguably the hottest U.S.-built vehicle put on sale recently, the Corvette Z06 is the best choice for such an important racing event as the Indy 500. The nomination was actually foreseeable, as the Corvette has served as an Indy 500 pace car 13 times since 1978, more than any other vehicle in the race’s history. The Z06 was bound to lead the pack for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" in its first year on the market, and the fact that it will do so with Jeff Gordon behind the wheel makes it that much better.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Exterior AutoShow
- image 538441

Find out more about the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 in our detailed review here.

Press Release

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.

Jeff Gordon To Pace Indy 500 In Corvette Z06
- image 628749

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 To Pace Indy 500 In Corvette Z06
- image 628750

“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.”

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: