Oldsmobile Pace Cars

Indy 500 Pace Car History - General

With a huge field of 40 cars having met the qualifying requirements for starting the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911, track founder Carl Fisher reasoned that this might be too many for the typical standing starts then in vogue.

He believed it would be safer instead to lead them around on one unscored lap at approximately 40 or 45 mph and then release them to the flagman as he pulled into the pits.

Now commonplace at motor racing events throughout the United States, this is believed to have been the very first mass rolling start for any automobile race anywhere in the world and quite possibly the first use of a pace car for a major event.

Source: www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/indy500/history/35196-Indy-500-Traditions/

Oldsmobile Indy 500 Pace Cars

1949 Oldsmobile V8 88 Convertible
Pace car driven by ex-pilot Wilbur Shaw accompanied by Jack Wolfram, chief engineer at Oldsmobile.
Rocket V-8 powered 88's won 6 of 9 NASCAR late model division races in 1949, 10 of 19 in 1950, and 20 of 41 in 1952.
Car tester Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated recorded 0-96 km/h in 13.5 sec. Calling “the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 the fastest US stock car in performance, up to 95 mph (153 km/h).”


1960 Oldsmobile V8 98 Convertible
Approx. eight 1960 Oldsmobile 98 convertibles were used as pace cars. These cars were supplied by Charlie Stuart Oldsmobile in Indianapolis. According to a source found on the internet, Dennis Vieira, who had personally spoken with Charlie, the dealer was approached directly because GM wanted no part in racing at the time. This dealer supplied 60 1960 98 convertibles for Indy 500 promotional purposes as well as to be used as pace cars.


1970 Oldsmobile V8 442 Convertible
Paced at the Indianapolis 500 race in 1970, along with the Cutlass Supreme.
This year introduced the Olds 455 V8 as the standard 442 engine.
Output was 365 hp, with a 370 hp W30 option available. The 365 and 370 hp power ratings were conservatively underrated at a lower rpm. Both engines are believed by some to produce 410 to 420 hp.


1972 Oldsmobile V8 Hurst/Olds Convertible
Due to a tragic accident involving the '71 Pace car, a Dodge Challenger, major auto manufacturers were reluctant to provide a pace car for the '72 Indy race.
Hurst Performance stepped up and volunteered to sponsor the 1972 Pace car.
Hurst teamed up with Oldsmobile to build a modified Cutlass convertible that is often referred to simply as the "'72 Hurst/Olds".
It was the first time in Speedway history that an automotive parts manufacturer's name was included in the pace car title.


1974 Oldsmobile V8 Hurst/Olds Cutlass
The 1974 Hurst/Olds was the pace car but the Indy 500 track required convertibles for the parade lap cars, so the Delta 88 was chosen to parade celebities and guests on the track.
Indy Decals were available to all H/O owners. Cars were available in Cameo White or Ebony Black.


1977 Oldsmobile V8 Delta 88 Coupe
1977 represented a very important year for both the Indy 500 and Olds. It was the first time a racer had broken the 200mph barrier and the first time that a female driver would compete.
The new Delta 88 was totally re-engineered and re-designed to achieve greater efficiency, featuring a chassis and body nearly a foot shorter and 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor.
Though smaller on the outside, it was actually roomier on the inside!
2,401 Delta Royale Coupes were built as pace replicas available for sale to the public. Because of the aggressive paint scheme, many dealers found these vehicles a hard sell, so some were repainted and sold as standard inventory.


1985 Oldsmobile 4-cyl Calais Convertible
The Calais 500 featured a special open roof design that complimented the car's aerodynamic wedge shaped body. (Olds PR)
Finished in a special Fiesta red metallic paint, the interior was trimmed in silver leather. Other special features included performance wheels and tires, stylized 'aero' rocker panel treatment, modified suspension (1" lower), built in radio communications system, and hidden cameras.
The Calais 500 was powered by a specifically developed 215hp 2.5L, L-4 engine. This was more than double the hp of the production Calais.
Also, an "Auto Calculator" was located below the radio... a precursor to today’s trip computers.


1988 Oldsmobile Quad 4 Cutlass Supreme Convertible
Appropriately driven by Chuck Yeager (Major General and accomplished test pilot) Oldsmobile introduced the first production cars with Head-Up Display, 5 pace cars and 50 convertibles.
Olds engineers designed a turbocharged version of the Quad 4 engine for the '88 pace car that produced 250hp. It was built as a prototype for future Quad 4 turbo engines and almost all components were off the shelf parts.
The main modifications were an intercooled turbocharger and a custom made stainless steel exhaust manifold. Also added were heavy duty axles to handle extra power, and 225/50ZR16 tires. Suspension was production FE3.


1997 Oldsmobile V8 Aurora
The Aurora pace car was powered by a dual overhead camshaft, 32 valve, 4.0-liter V-8 engine that made 250 hp. A version of this same engine, producing upwards of 650 hp, was used to power many cars in the field that year at Indy.
The Aurora was the first 4-door sedan to pace the Indy 500 since the 1947 Nash. It was also the first time the same engine design had both paced, and won at Indy. Oldsmobile not only won the 500 mile race in 1997, it went on to win in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.


2000 Oldsmobile V8 Aurora
The 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora was the pace car of choice for the 84th Indy 500, and marked the tenth time that an Oldsmobile paced the annual Indy 500.
Powered by a 4.0L DOHC V8, cast aluminum block with cylinder head. The car was modified for use as an Indy pace car with Earls' auxiliary coolers for engine oil, transmission and power steering fluid systems, K&N air filter with modified air box for increased air flow, and Corsa custom cat-back exhaust.
The suspension had been modified with Eibach springs for a 1" lowered ride height. The exterior featured special Copper Burnt Orange Metallic blending into checkered multi-hued Indy 500/Aurora lettering graphic.
Safety requirements including seat harnesses, roll bar and in-car television cameras were added to the otherwise stock interior.


2001 Oldsmobile V6 Bravada SUV
Marking the 11th and last time Olds had paced Indy 500, a 2002 Bravada made history as the first SUV selected for Official Pace Vehicle, and also the first time that a woman would take the wheel.
The Bravada was the first Oldsmobile Pace Vehicle powered by a 6-cyl engine, introducing the 270-hp, inline six Vortec 4200.
Oldsmobile furnished the speedway with two garnet red metallic Bravadas for pace car duty, as well as one black and 64 white Bravadas for support and parade duties. An additional 54 trucks were provided for use by VIPs, Indy 500 staff, and press, for a total of 121 vehicles, making this one of the largest pace car programs in history.