Leaders of the Pack: Our All-Time Favorite Indy 500 Pace Cars

Measured in terms of sheer idiosyncrasies per mile, few oval circuits can match the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. More a rectangle with rounded corners than a true oval, the 2.5-mile circuit features two eighth-mile-long “short chutes” connecting the corners at either end, which are banked at a mild 9 degrees and 12 minutes (these are unchanged since the track’s construction in 1909; by comparison, Talladega Superspeedway leans in at 33 degrees). A yardlong surface of commemorative bricks marks the start/finish line, and a unique multi-tiered pagoda-style scoring tower houses various officials and press. Did we mention that the 500 winner swigs milk from a bottle?--But while the annual Indianapolis 500 may be a stickler for tradition, there is one crucial element that changes every year: the pace car. Ever since the first running of the 500 in 1911, manufacturers have been eager to put their products on the track, in recent decades demonstrating them in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators at the event and millions more on television. Of the 100 cars that, through 2016, have led the field on the opening lap of the 500, these are our all-time favorites (some for their comedic value).1911-Stoddard-Dayton-Indianapolis-Pace-car1920 Indianapolis 500 – Marmon 341925 Indianapolis 500 – Rickenbacker1926 Indianapolis 500 – Chrysler Imperial E-801930 Indianapolis 500 – Cord L-291932 Indianapolis 500 – Lincoln Model KB Murphy Sports Roadster1941 Indianapolis 500 – Chrysler Newport Phaeton1946 Indianapolis 500 – Lincoln Continental1955 Indianapolis 500 – Chevrolet Bel Air1958 Indianapolis 500 – Pontiac Bonneville1964 Indianapolis 500 – Ford Mustang1965 Indianapolis 500 – Plymouth Fury1966 Indianapolis 500 – Mercury Comet Cyclone GT1967 Indianapolis 500 – Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible1970 Indianapolis 500 – Oldsmobile 4421971 Indianapolis 500 – Dodge Challenger1973 Indianapolis 500 – Cadillac Eldorado1978 Indianapolis 500 – Chevrolet Corvette1979 Indianapolis 500 – Ford Mustang1980 Indianapolis 500 – Pontiac Turbo Trans Am1983 Indianapolis 500 – Buick Riviera Convertible1984 Indianapolis 500 – Pontiac Fiero1987 Indianapolis 500 – Chrysler LeBaron1990 Indianapolis 500 – Chevrolet Beretta1991 Indianapolis 500 – Dodge Viper R/T101994 Indianapolis 500 – Ford Mustang Cobra1997 Indianapolis 500 – Oldsmobile Aurora1998 Indianapolis 500 – Chevrolet Corvette2001 Indianapolis 500 – Oldsmobile Bravada2003 Indianapolis 500 – Chevrolet SSR2013 Indianapolis 500 – Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
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