Mark Reuss Will Pace Detroit Grand Prix in Corvette Z06
The next round of IndyCar racing kicks off this weekend in Motor City with the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, and leading the pack will be top bowtie-brass Mark Reuss at the helm of a Corvette Z06. Reuss has had earlier experience as an honorary pace driver, taking up the responsibility previously at the 2013 Dual in Detroit in a 2014 Stingray. He’s also a self-professed lover of motorsports.
“I’m thrilled to drive the Corvette Z06 pace car at this year’s Grand Prix,” Reuss said in a press release. “Growing up here and having the opportunity to help bring this great event to racing fans in Detroit has been very exciting, and the privilege of driving the pace car makes it even more special for me."
Reuss’ official title may be executive vice president of Global Product Development and Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, but that doesn’t mean he’s just some suit-and-tie stiff – additional items on Reuss’ resume include certification as an industry pool test driver on the North Course of the infamous Nurburgring race track in Germany. Back in 2001, he also created and led GM’s Performance Division, taking responsibility for the firm’s racing vehicles, plus production versions of Chevy’s SS models and the Cadillac V-Series.
The races will take place May 30th and 31st as the only doubleheader for the 2015 IndyCar season.
Continue reading for the full story.
Why it matters
It’s probably safe to say that the pairing of Reuss and the ‘Vette is the most natural choice for pace car duties. Not only is he an industry bigwig at GM, but Reuss also knows what it means to use the high-performance machines he helps to create. It’s a sentiment echoed by Jim Campbell, Chevy’s U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports: “This race is quintessential to the world of motorsports and Chevrolet,” Campbell said in a press release. “Mark has always lived and breathed performance cars, so it’s perfect to have him behind the wheel of the most powerful and capable production car ever made by Chevrolet.”
The venue is situated roughly 2.5 miles from Chevy’s Detroit headquarters, and the race is a clear continuation of the bowtie’s presence in IndyCar racing.
What’s more, putting Reuss behind the wheel of the pace car coincides nicely with the overarching presence Chevy enjoys at the Grand Prix. The races will be held at Belle Isle, a 2.3-mile road course on a 982-acre island in the Detroit River. The venue is situated roughly 2.5 miles from Chevy’s Detroit headquarters, and the race is a clear continuation of the bowtie’s presence in IndyCar racing.
For example, a Corvette has taken up pace car duties several times throughout the history of the Indy 500, starting in 1978 with a two-tone C3, all the way up to this year when NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon took the helm of a new C7 Z06 for the race’s 99th running.
In the manufacturer’s championship, Honda leads Chevy 593 points to 588, but it should be noted that the bowtie lost 260 points in penalties, while Honda lost only 20.
Furthermore, with Chevy powering the drivers in the top four spots at the end of the Indy 500, it should be clear the make has a leading aero and engine combo. The dominance continues in the driver’s points standings, where Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, Scott Dixon, and Helio Castroneves occupy the top four positions, each with a ride from Chevy (albeit with different teams).
All told, Chevy has to be feeling good as it heads to familiar ground in Detroit this weekend. If the season openers are any indication, expect the American automaker to close the gap to Honda.
The pace car at this year’s Detroit Grand Prix will be very similar to the Z06 we saw at the Indy 500. The exterior will be draped in Arctic White paint, complete with a unique graphics package and the requisite safety strobe lights. Meanwhile, Reuss will get to enjoy an interior package decked out in Adrenaline Red.
Performance specs are factory-tune, but that’s more than enough, even when pacing the uber-powered Indy cars. Under that extended hood is a 6.2-liter V-8 that’s supercharged to produce 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. With muscle routed to the rear wheels via a seven-speed manual transmission, Reuss will have the goods necessary to hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, a necessary figure when leading a pack of open-wheel rocket ships.
Read our review of the production car here.