Indy Pace Cars

Leading the Pack: 100 Years of Indy 500 Pace Cars

May 6, 2011 – October 9, 2011

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This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Race.

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The Museum will commemorate the event with a special exhibition of Indianapolis 500 Pace Car replicas supplemented by some actual race pace cars and an assortment of vintage competition vehicles representing several eras of Indy with more than a dozen vehicles.

Sponsored by
sponsor-performance-parts

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Pacing the Indianapolis 500 is a prestigious task. It has become a real honor for the chosen manufacturer and usually coincides with the release of a major new model or a striking redesign resemblance to the actual competition vehicles.

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It was also rumored that some pace cars in the first quarter of the 20th century could actually outperform the race vehicles!

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Gradually, the race cars became more specialized and soon looked nothing like the production automobiles that paced them.

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While the modern pace car is a rolling advertisement, it also represents new technology, safety and performance. “Leading the Pack” will showcase the wide variety of manufacturers and body styles used as pace cars over the course of the “500’s” century of competition.

Vehicle List

Download a PDF version

  • 1930 Cord Model L-29 (same model, year as pace car)
  • 1939 Buick Series 80 Roadmaster (re-creation/tribute)
  • 1952 Studebaker Commander Convertible (same model, year as pace car)
  • 1956 DeSoto Fireflite Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser (factory replica)
  • 1959 Buick Electra 225 (re-creation/tribute)
  • 1968 Ford Torino Convertible Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1969 Camaro Convertible Pace Car 396 (factory replica)
  • 1975 Buick Century Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1978 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1979 Mustang Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1981 Buick Regal Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1983 Buick Riviera Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1983 Buick Riviera Indy 500 Parade Car
  • 1984 Pontiac Fiero Pace Car (factory prototype)
  • 1989 Pontiac 20th Anniversary Trans Am Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1993 Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1994 Mustang Cobra Convertible Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1995 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car (factory replica)
  • 1998 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car (factory replica)

Indy Race Cars

Three special cars just added to the exhibit!

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1956 Peter Schmidt Special #88

  • Engine: 270 Offenhauser
  • Chassis: Kuzma
  • Drivers: Johnny Thomson, Eddie Sachs, Gene Hartley

This 1956 Schmidt Kuzma/Offy competed at Indianapolis for four years, it was driven by Johnny Thomson in 1956 where he qualified 18th and finished 32nd after a spin. In 1957 Eddie Sachs drove the car, he qualified 2nd, but had to retire after a fuel leak and was credited with a 23rd finishing position. Eddie Sachs again drove the car in 1958, he qualifed 18th and retired with transmission problems to a 22nd place finish. In 1959 Gene Hartley qualified this car 9th and finished the race in 11th place. This is a tube frame chassis and the entire body was hand crafted out of aluminum. The Offenhauser engine is offset to the left and then tilted to the right.

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1964 Dayton Disc Brake Special #77

  • Engine: 255 Offenhauser
  • Chassis: A.J. Watson Copy, 1964
  • Driver: Bob Mathouser

The George Walther tube frame chassis is a A.J. Watson copy with a 255 CI Offenhauser engine offset to the left. This car was entered in the 1964 Indy 500 without a driver named although rookie Bob Mathouser was later enlisted for the race. After this season most front engine Indy race cars were obsolete. Started 28th finished 22nd.

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1988 Pennzoil Penske PC-17

  • Engine: Cosworth DFX
  • Chassis: Penske PC-17 #003
  • Drivers: Al Unser Jr./ Rick Mears

The Pennzoil Penske PC-17 was driven successfully by both Al Unser Jr. and Rick Mears in 1988. Al Unser Jr. drove this car at Indy qualifying and finishing 3rd, teammate Rick Mears drove a sister car to victory that year. This car went on to win the following weekend at Milwaukee being driven by Rick Mears.