The famous and infamous Indy 500 Pace Trucks
Prior to the start of the 2022 Indy 500 on Sunday, May 29, the lead car will be out front. Race series use race cars (or safety cars) to keep race cars at a safe speed during a race. In Indy that speed is 140 miles per hour so you need a fast car so this year a 70e The anniversary Corvette Z06 will lead the pack, and it will be driven by Indy podium finisher Sarah Fisher. But it’s not always cars. Over the years, several companies have deployed trucks, and even an SUV, to keep pace with cars.
The company that supplies the official Pace Car usually also supplies the trucks that are used in the field to transport stuff for the teams. In the past, they were equipped with gas pumps, cranes to pull crashed cars off the track, or fire engines. These “official truck” editions are then sold to the public, but usually they are regular trucks only with special paint jobs. Usually, but not always.
Ford Purple PPG Truck
In the early 1990s, Ford was trying to bolster its performance credentials. It was the era of the first-generation Ford Lighting, after all. Thus, in 1991, the company joined forces with some big names in motorsport to make its pace truck a real racing truck: McLaren Performance Technologies and Roush to manufacture this pace truck. Roush, of course, was already a Ford partner and makes Mustangs faster. McLaren makes Indy cars and Formula 1 cars. And, since paint maker PPG sponsored the series in the 1990s, the truck had to have some wild paint. And that’s the case.
Interestingly, the 1991 truck has rear seats. They are rear-facing and are covered with a fiberglass tonneau cover and protected by a roll bar. They were designed so that the winner of the race could ride. It has, as it did, an 85 mph speedometer and dual cupholders.
The 1993 Chevy Silverado in black and white
In 1978 Chevy fielded a Corvette Pace Car and a Chevy Indy Pace Truck. The truck was painted two-tone red and white. It was a V8, and it was rear-wheel drive. Trucks weren’t the rolling castles they are today. The ’78 had two big innovations for the time: tilt and power steering.
Several Chevrolets have raced the Indy over the years, mostly Corvettes.
The most famous trucks, however, have to be the black and white 1970s or 1993 Silverados with a very 1990s paint job. Chevy only made about 1,200 of the 1993 trucks. They had two bucket seats , and not much else in terms of options. Ironically, the Camaro Z28 was the lead car that year, but Chevy decided to sell official Indy 500 trucks anyway.
The Indy Ram was Dodge’s attempt
Not to be outdone, Dodge cooked up a special edition of its 1996 Ram 1500 for the ’80s.e Indy 500 anniversary. It was painted racing blue, had a pair of white racing stripes down the middle, and came with a matching tonneau cover. It had the standard 360 cubic inch V8, but sat on special 17 inch rims with performance car tires. All Indy Rams were the mid-level Laramie trim, with a four-speed automatic. The center console also flips up so you can accommodate three people in the front seat. Later, Dodge would create several performance trucks by dropping the V10 from the Viper, but these trucks were more spectacular than easy, despite their faster 3.92 rear option. The Indy package was a $1,350 option on Laramie trucks.
Pretty much every GMC Pace truck, ever
GMC fielded Indy Pace trucks for several years including 1925 (really), 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984. You can easily spot an official GMC truck by their wild paint jobs , with some Indy Hauler badges on the bed. They were basic trucks in many ways, but like their Chevy siblings, they also have tilt and power steering.
Oldsmobile did its best with the Bravada Indy Pace Truck
Ohh, Olds was trying hard with this one. Oldsmobile engines were famous in the old Brick Yard, and Indy fans will remember that Oldsmobile’s turbocharged V6s from 1983 to 1997 dominated and won many 500s. This engine was based on the Oldsmobile V6 that the public could buy. But a Bravada? Olds called it a “Pace Truck”. We call it an SUV. But in its day, it was a fast SUV that had a number of modifications made so that it could handle the 140mph speed that cars have to maintain. There were 1999 and 2002 versions of the Bravada Pace Vehicle. But, a Bravada? It’s good, but it’s not a performance SUV.
Chevy tried with the SSR pilot car…uh.. . a truck
Some people will say that the Chevrolet SSR is not a truck. These people are probably right. But Chevy called it a truck. Chevy tried to give the SSR some performance cred, so it painted an SSR purple, stuck on some Pace Car stickers, and ran it. He used the same truck, as seen in the photo, for several NASCAR races in 2005. The Pace Truck version had the regular small-block V8 and a four-speed drive. The SSR performed well as a pace car…er…truck.
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