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Indy 500 Pace Cars: A Look Back

© General MotorsRace Pacers
Since the very first Indianapolis 500-mile race held in 1911, a specially-appointed pace car has been used to lead the field in formation to the green flag for the start of the race. It is an honor — for both the driver and the car — to be chosen to lead the start of this historic race, and many special-edition vehicles have been created over the years to commemorate the event.

© General Motors2019 Indy 500 Pace Car
The pace car honors for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 go to the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport and popular retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be behind the wheel. This year marks the 16th time Corvette has served as the Indy pace car, starting in 1978. The full list of drivers and cars is a fascinating window back to the auto world’s varied legends and today’s celebrities, so let’s look back at Indy 500 pace cars through the years. Note: The Indy 500 was not run in 1917-18 and 1942-45 due to World War I and Word War II respectively.

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1911: Stoddard-Dayton Model 11-A
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1912: Stutz
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1913: Stoddard-Dayton
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1914: Stoddard-Dayton
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1915: Packard Model 548
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1916: Premier Model 656
Driver: Frank E. Smith

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1919: Packard 335
Driver: Col. J. G. Vincent

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1920: Marmon Model 34
Driver: Barney Oldfield

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1921: H.C.S. Series 6
Driver: Harry C. Stutz

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1922: National Sextet
Driver: Barney Oldfield

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1923: Duesenberg Model A
Driver: Fred S. Duesenberg

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1924: Cole V-8 Series 890
Driver: Lew Pettijohn

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1925: Rickenbacker Eight
Driver: Eddie Rickenbacker

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1926: Chrysler Imperial E-80
Driver: Louis Chevrolet

© GM Media Archives1927: LaSalle V-8 Series 303
Driver: ‘Big Boy’ Rader

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1928: Marmon ‘8’ (Model 78)
Driver: Joe Dawson

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1929: Studebaker Series F-10 President
Driver: George Hunt

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1930: Cord L-29
Driver: Wade Morton

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1931: Cadillac 370 Twelve
Driver: ‘Big Boy’ Rader

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1932: Lincoln Model KB
Driver: Edsel Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1933: Chrysler Imperial (Phaeton)
Driver: Byron Foy

© GM Media Archives1934: LaSalle Model 350
Driver: ‘Big Boy’ Rader

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1935: Ford Model 48
Driver: Harry Mack

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1936: Packard One-Twenty
Driver: Tommy Milton

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1937: LaSalle Series 50
Driver: Ralph DePalma

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1938: Hudson ‘112’
Driver: Stuart Baits

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1939: Buick Roadmaster Series 80
Driver: Charles Chayne

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1940: Studebaker Champion (image not available)
Driver: Harry Hartz

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1941: Chrysler-Newport (Phaeton)
Driver: A.B. Couture

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1946: Lincoln Continental
Driver: Henry Ford II

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1947: Nash Ambassador
Driver: George W. Mason

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1948: Chevrolet Stylemaster Six-Series
Driver: Wilbur Shaw

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1949: Oldsmobile 88 ‘Rocket’
Driver: Wilbur Shaw

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1950: Mercury
Driver: Benson Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1951: Chrysler New Yorker V-8
Driver: Dave Wallace

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1952: Studebaker Commander
Driver: P.O. Peterson

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1953: Ford Crestline Sunliner
Driver: William C. Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1954: Dodge Royal 500
Driver: William C. Newburg

© General Motors1955: Chevrolet Bel Air
Driver: T.H. Keating

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1956: DeSoto Fireflite Pacesetter
Driver: L.I. Woolson

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1957: Mercury Turnpike Cruiser
Driver: F.C. Reith

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1958: Pontiac Bonneville
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1959: Buick Electra 225
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1960: Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1961: Ford Thunderbird
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1962: Studebaker
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1963: Chrysler ‘300’
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1964: Ford Mustang
Driver: Benson Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1965: Plymouth Sports Fury
Driver: P.M. Buckminster

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1966: Mercury Comet Cyclone GT
Driver: Benson Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1967: Chevrolet Camaro
Driver: Mauri Rose

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1968: Ford Torino GT
Driver: William C. Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1969: Chevrolet Camaro SS
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1970: Oldsmobile 4-4-2
Driver: Rodger Ward

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1971: Dodge Challenger
Driver: Eldon Palmer

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1972: Hurst/Olds Cutlass
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1973: Cadillac Eldorado
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1974: Hurst/Olds Cutlass
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1975: Buick Century Custom ‘Free Spirit’
Driver: James Garner

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1976: Buick Turbocharged V-6
Driver: Marty Robbins

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1977: Oldsmobile Delta 88
Driver: James Garner

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1978: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Bret Kelley/IMS1979: Ford Mustang
Driver: Jackie Stewart

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1980: Pontiac Turbo-Trans Am
Driver: Johnnie Parsons

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1981: Buick Regal V-6
Driver: Duke Nalon

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1982: Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© GM Media Archives1983: Buick Riviera Convertible
Driver: Duke Nalon

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1984: Pontiac Fiero
Driver: John Callies

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1985: Oldsmobile Calais
Driver: James Garner

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1986: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Gen. Chuck Yeager

© Chris Owens/IMS1987: Chrysler LeBaron
Driver: Carroll Shelby

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1988: Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Driver: Gen. Chuck Yeager

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1989: 20th Anniversary Pontiac Trans Am
Driver: Bobby Unser

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1990: Chevrolet Beretta
Driver: Jim Perkins

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1991: Dodge Viper RT/10
Driver: Carroll Shelby

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1992: Cadillac Allante
Driver: Bobby Unser

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1993: Chevrolet Camaro Z-28
Driver: Jim Perkins

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1994: Ford Mustang Cobra
Driver: Parnelli Jones

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1995: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Jim Perkins

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1996: Dodge Viper GTS
Driver: Robert A. Lutz

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1997: Oldsmobile Aurora
Driver: Johnny Rutherford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway1998: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Parnelli Jones

© GM Media Archives1999: Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Driver: Jay Leno

© GM Media Archives2000: Oldsmobile Aurora
Driver: Anthony Edwards

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway2001: Oldsmobile Bravada
Driver: Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp

© General Motors2002: 2003 Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Jim Caviezel

© Steve Snoddy/IMS2003: Chevy SSR
Driver: Herb Fishel

© Ron McQueeney/IMS2004: Chevrolet Corvette C5
Driver: Morgan Freeman

© Michael Voorhees/IMS2005: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Gen. Colin Powell

© Ron McQueeney/IMS2006: Chevrolet Corvette C6
Driver: Lance Armstrong

© Ron McQueeney/IMS2007: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Patrick Dempsey

© Mike Harding/IMS2008: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Emerson Fittipaldi

© Bret Kelley/IMS2009: Chevrolet Camaro
Driver: Josh Duhamel

© General Motors2010: Chevrolet Camaro SS
Driver: Robin Roberts

© General Motors2011: Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Driver: A.J. Foyt Jr.

© General Motors2012: Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Driver: Guy Fieri

© General Motors2013: Corvette Stingray
Driver: Jim Harbaugh

© Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing2014: Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Driver: Dario Franchitti

© IMS for Chevy Racing2015: Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Driver: Jeff Gordon

© Bret Kelley/IMS for Chevrolet2016: 50th Anniversary Chevrolet Camaro
Driver: Roger Penske

© Chris Owens/IMS for Chevy Racing2017: Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Driver: Jeffrey Dean Morgan

© General Motors2018: Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Driver: Victor Oladipo

© General Motors2019: Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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Published on: May 23, 2019

Filled Under: Automotive Content Experience

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