The Bowtie brand is better known for its NASCAR exploits, but when a 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 does the honors at the 2014 race, it actually will be the 25th time—in the past 47 years—that a Chevrolet has been the pace car for the Indianapolis 500. (It also turns out that all three Chevrolet brothers, including the brand's co-founder, Louis, competed in early Indy races; the youngest, Gaston Chevrolet, won the event outright in 1920 when, according to Wikipedia, he became the first driver to cover all 500 miles on one set of tires.)
There also will be a familiar face behind the wheel of that 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28: Three-time Indy 500 winner and four-time IndyCar driving champion Dario Franchitti, who noted that: “It is a tremendous honor for me to be asked to drive the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. As a historian of motorsport and as a three-time winner of this great race, I will appreciate every minute of getting to pace the field in the new 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. Although I won't be competing in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, this will be as close as one person can get to the action. I can't wait until May in Indianapolis.”
True, Franchitti spent much of his career relying on Honda power, but he seems to have gotten that out of his system and will not only act as pace-car pilot, he'll also join the Chevy-powered Chip Ganassi Racing team this year to assist with driver development.
Added Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports: “Dario is a true champion who has earned the respect of competitors and race fans alike. It will be very special to have Dario lead the field to the green flag in the Camaro Z/28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
The 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 won't need much in the way of modifications before it hits the track, either. It's already the most capable production Camaro to ever come down the assembly line, thanks in no small part to its 7.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 that can unchain 505 hp and 481 lb.-ft. of torque. Further, unlike most of the muscle cars of yore, today's Z/28 is a true all-round performer that can lap the Nürburgring faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera S.
It’s also a lot less expensive than an Indy-style racing car, with an MSRP of $75,000.