Herb Fishel, Executive Director of GM Racing with the Chevy SSR Indy 500 Pace Vehicle. Click image to enlarge
Indianapolis, Indiana – Chevrolet and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that the new 2003 Chevy SSR will serve as the Official Pace Vehicle for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25th.
This marks the 14th time a Chevrolet product has served as the official pace vehicle – the most appearances by any brand since the first use of a pacemaker in 1911 – and the first time a truck-based Chevrolet will lead the charge to the green flag.
“We’re pleased that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Chevrolet are continuing this long-time relationship,” said Tony George, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Having the new Chevy SSR leading the field to the green flag on May 25 will certainly contribute to a memorable Indianapolis 500.”
The frame and chassis of the SSR are similar in design to Chevy’s mid-size TrailBlazer family of sport utilities. All major exterior panels are of one-piece stamped steel. Under the hood is a new aluminum-block version of GM’s Vortec 5300 (5.3-litre) small-block V8 that develops 290 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 325 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. That power drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. Rounding out SSR’s sporty street machine appearance are 19-inch front and 20-inch rear tires and wheels.
The history of Chevrolet vehicles that have paced the Indianapolis 500, and their drivers:
- 2002 Corvette 50th Anniversary (Jim Caviezel)
- 1999 Monte Carlo SS (Jay Leno)
- 1998 Corvette (Parnelli Jones)
- 1995 Corvette (Jim Perkins)
- 1993 Camaro Z28 (Jim Perkins)
- 1990 Beretta (Jim Perkins)
- 1986 Corvette (Gen. Chuck Yeager)
- 1982 Camaro Z28 (Jim Rathmann)
- 1978 Corvette (Jim Rathmann)
- 1969 Camaro SS (Jim Rathmann)
- 1967 Camaro SS (Mauri Rose)
- 1955 Bel Air (T.H. Keating)
- 1948 Fleetmaster (Wilbur Shaw)
This year’s edition of the Memorial Day classic will find Chevrolet out to repeat its recent on-track winning performance. The “Bowtie” returned to open-wheel competition in 2002, capturing 14 of 15 IRL events, including the Indy 500, and the series championship. In all, Chevy has won 100 Indy-style races, including seven Indianapolis 500 victories, and six series titles since 1986.