It’s no coincidence that Chevy and its 2011 Camaro Convertible pace car are the featured automotive hallmarks of the Indianapolis 500. It’s also no coincidence that both Chevy and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) are celebrating 100 memorable years in the business. After all, Arthur Chevrolet participated in the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911 while younger brother Gaston Chevrolet won the 500-mile race 1920 without a tire change.
As the saying goes, “Chevy runs deep.” I’ve been seeing them everywhere here in Indianapolis. And their all-new Camaro Convertible is the official pace car of the 94th running of the Indy 500. In total, Chevy has hosted 22 Indy 500 races with their brand, with seven of those vehicles being Camaros. The 2011 pace car – to be driven by 4-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt – is decked in White with Inferno Orange rally stripes, a White grille, 20” rims, Inferno Orange Interior, a Black top, and an Indy logo on the headrests. No performance enhancements have been added to the 6.2-liter 426 horsepower V8 engine. We were able to experience the pace cars on the legendary oval at 140 mph with Brazilian race legend Emerson Fittipaldi (Emo) who was on hand for the weekend festivities. Emo’s credentials are pretty astonishing. He’s the only driver to win two Indy 500s (Chevy powered), two Formula One World Championships, one IndyCar World Championship, 14 in Formula One, races and 22 IndyCar races.
Currently, the IZOD IndyCar Series is dominated by Honda who is the only engine manufacturer. Chevy previously competed as an engine builder between 1986 and 1993 and 2002 and 2005 with V8s. During that run they won 104 races, powering six driver champions and scoring seven Indianapolis 500 victories. Plans are now underway for Chevy to get back into the business. They have already signed with Team Penske, who has won more IndyCar races than any other team. Chevy must continue to recruit and win over additional IndyCar teams to make their comeback successful.
In today’s technologically led motorsports world, the sport calls for smaller, cleaner and more efficient engines. Chevy’s new twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V6 must remain resolute in competition or Honda will walk away laughing. The 2.2-liter will run on renewable E85 ethanol fuel. “The development of the Chevrolet IndyCar engine is on schedule, and we have reached all of our development plan milestones to date,” said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. “The research and design teams are working diligently to achieve the objectives and meet the demanding deadlines of this ambitious program.
Good luck Chevy!