The Camaro celebrates half a century at the 100th running of the Indy 500

The long and storied history between Chevrolet and the Indy 500 will run a new episode in 2016, when the brand-new Camaro SS will pace the iconic 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. Set to take place on May 29, this year’s Indy 500 will be the 100th running of the event and Chevrolet will provide the organizers with four pace cars based on the 2017 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition. In other words, two of America’s most recognizable brands have chosen to celebrate their milestones together.

Chevrolet will supply the event with four identically prepared pace cars, which will be driven by motorsport legend Roger Penske. The 79-year-old is marking 50 years as a race team owner and seeks his 17th Indy 500 title in 2016.

"Chevrolet and the Indianapolis 500 have a long, storied history and it’s an honor to mark the respective milestones of the Indy 500 race and the Camaro simultaneously," said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development. "It’s also a privilege to have Roger Penske perform the driving duties, as his team has helped Chevrolet earn four consecutive IndyCar manufacturer titles since 2012."

This year’s race will be the ninth time the Camaro has served as the pace car and the 27th time for Chevrolet. Chevy first paced the race in 1948, while the Camaro made its debut in 1967, less than a year after the first-generation model was unveiled to the world. The Camaro returned to Indianapolis in 1969, 1982, and 1993, before becoming one of Indy’s favorite pace cars in the late 2000s. The bowtie-badged car led the pack for three consecutive years from 2009 to 2011 and returned for the eighth time in 2014. The Camaro is the second most frequent Indy 500 pace car, surpassed only by the Corvette, which paced the race 13 times between 1978 and 2015. Interestingly enough, the 2016 Indy 500 will be the 20th consecutive race paced by a General Motors vehicle. The last non-GM car to pace the event was the Dodge Viper GTS in 2006.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Camaro SS Indy 500 Pace Car.

What makes the Chevrolet Camaro SS Indy 500 Pace Car special

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Indy 500 Pace Car High Resolution Exterior
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Much like all pace cars, the Indy-prepped Chevy SS will feature race-specific graphics on the doors and the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway wing-and-wheel logo on the rear fenders. To mark the 100th anniversary of the race, the coupe will feature a special Indy 500 logo that also includes the number 100. Being based on the Camaro 50th Anniversary Edition model, the pace car will also sport all the unique details that come with the special edition. These include a body-colored front splitter, 50th Anniversary stripe package and badges, "Fifty" emblems with satin chrome letters and orange inserts on the front fenders, and a unique grille with satin chrome accents.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Indy 500 Pace Car High Resolution Exterior
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However, unlike the 50th Anniversary model that will be sold in dealerships, the pace car traded the standard Nightfall Gray Metallic paint for an Abalone White exterior. Probably because white is a more traditional color for the Indy 500, although previous pace cars were painted in all sorts of brighter or darker hues.

Chevy had nothing to say about the pace car’s interior, but it’s safe to assume it remained unchanged except for the addition of a radio system through which the driver can communicate with the race officials. Other than that, it comes with all the goodies offered with the SS, as well as the black leather upholstery with suede inserts and orange accent stitching available with the 50th Anniversary Edition. It should also feature special-edition logos on the dashboard, seat backs, and steering wheel.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Indy 500 Pace Car High Resolution Exterior
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Under the hood, the pace car is a standard Camaro SS, but that’s far from bad news. The 2015 redesign dropped a new 6.2-liter V-8 (mostly shared with the Corvette Stingray) between the front wheels, giving the coupe a whopping 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of twist. That’s enough to push it from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds with a manual transmission and four seconds flat with an automatic gearbox, which should be more than enough for pace car duties.

Chevrolet Camaro

2016 - 2017 Chevrolet Camaro High Resolution Exterior
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The sixth-generation Camaro was launched in 2015 for the 2016 model year. It replaced the fifth-generation model, introduced in 2010 after eight years with no Camaro in dealerships. Much like the Mustang, the new Camaro sports an evolutionary design that blends styling cues seen on the previous generation with some classic features. About two inches shorter and 294 pounds lighter than its predecessor, the sixth-gen pony is also quicker thanks to its new V-6 and V-8 engines. The newly developed 3.6-liter V-6 is the most powerful naturally aspirated V-6 in the segment at 355 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of twist, while the Corvette-sourced, 6.2-liter, LT1 V-8 makes the Camaro quicker than the V-8-powered Mustang thanks to its 455 horses and 445 pound-feet of torque. The Camaro also received a four-cylinder engine for the first time since 1992. The unit in question is a 2.0-liter turbo-four similar to the one found in the Cadillac ATS and CTS. It generates 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet and returns more than 30 mpg on the highway. Pricing for 2016 starts from $25,700, two grand more than the previous model.

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Camaro here.

Press Release

A unique version of the new, 2017 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition will lead the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 next month, driven by motorsports legend Roger Penske, who is marking 50 years as a race team owner.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Indy 500 Pace Car High Resolution Exterior
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It’s the ninth time Camaro has served as the pace car and the 27th time for Chevrolet, dating back to 1948.

“Chevrolet and the Indianapolis 500 have a long, storied history and it’s an honor to mark the respective milestones of the Indy 500 race and the Camaro simultaneously,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development and Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “It’s also a privilege to have Roger Penske perform the driving duties, as his team has helped Chevrolet earn four consecutive IndyCar manufacturer titles since 2012.”

Four identically prepared pace cars will support the race, all with exclusive Abalone White exteriors featuring “100th Running of the Indianapolis 500” graphics on the doors and the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway wing-and-wheel logo on the quarter panels. They also incorporate the exterior cues and graphics that are unique to the Camaro 50th Anniversary package that goes on sale this summer.

With 455 horsepower on tap, the Camaro SS pace cars require no performance modifications to lead the racing field.

“Chevrolet and Roger Penske are inextricably linked to the heritage of the Indianapolis 500,” said J. Douglas Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “When he leads the pack on May 29, behind the wheel of the Camaro SS, he will drive the race into its next 100 years and strengthen the bond Chevrolet and Indianapolis forged a century ago.”

For 2016, Chevrolet drivers will be looking to build on last year’s results of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” when the top four finishers were Chevy-powered, led by race-winner and Team Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya. It was his second Indy 500 victory and the 16th for Team Penske.

No other racing team has recorded more wins at the Brickyard than Team Penske, and it started with driver Mark Donohue’s victory in 1972. Penske and Donohue established their relationship six years earlier, when Penske transitioned from driver to team owner. They quickly found success in SCCA’s Trans-Am Series, with Donohue piloting an early Camaro Z/28 racecar, winning three of 12 races in 1967 and 10 of 13 in 1968.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Indy 500 Pace Car High Resolution Exterior
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Penske tackled the Indy 500 for the first time in 1969, while still campaigning a Camaro in Trans-Am. Donohue was his driver for both series. Later, racers including Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Rick Mears drove for Penske, with Mears winning four Indianapolis 500 races and helping solidify Team Penske as an Indy powerhouse in the 1980s. That legacy advances this year, as Roger Penske seeks his 17th Indy 500 title as a team owner.

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