Indy 500 Pace Cars: A Look Back

© General Motors

Race Pacers
Since the very first Indianapolis 500-mile race held in 1911, a specially-appointed pace car has been used to lead the field in formation to the green flag for the start of the race. It is an honor — for both the driver and the car — to be chosen to lead the start of this historic race, and many special-edition vehicles have been created over the years to commemorate the event.

© General Motors

2019 Indy 500 Pace Car
The pace car honors for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 go to the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport and popular retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be behind the wheel. This year marks the 16th time Corvette has served as the Indy pace car, starting in 1978. The full list of drivers and cars is a fascinating window back to the auto world’s varied legends and today’s celebrities, so let’s look back at Indy 500 pace cars through the years. Note: The Indy 500 was not run in 1917-18 and 1942-45 due to World War I and Word War II respectively.

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1911: Stoddard-Dayton Model 11-A
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1912: Stutz
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1913: Stoddard-Dayton
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1914: Stoddard-Dayton
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1915: Packard Model 548
Driver: Carl G. Fisher

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1916: Premier Model 656
Driver: Frank E. Smith

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1919: Packard 335
Driver: Col. J. G. Vincent

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1920: Marmon Model 34
Driver: Barney Oldfield

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1921: H.C.S. Series 6
Driver: Harry C. Stutz

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1922: National Sextet
Driver: Barney Oldfield

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1923: Duesenberg Model A
Driver: Fred S. Duesenberg

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1924: Cole V-8 Series 890
Driver: Lew Pettijohn

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1925: Rickenbacker Eight
Driver: Eddie Rickenbacker

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1926: Chrysler Imperial E-80
Driver: Louis Chevrolet

© GM Media Archives

1927: LaSalle V-8 Series 303
Driver: ‘Big Boy’ Rader

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1928: Marmon ‘8’ (Model 78)
Driver: Joe Dawson

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1929: Studebaker Series F-10 President
Driver: George Hunt

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1930: Cord L-29
Driver: Wade Morton

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1931: Cadillac 370 Twelve
Driver: ‘Big Boy’ Rader

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1932: Lincoln Model KB
Driver: Edsel Ford

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1933: Chrysler Imperial (Phaeton)
Driver: Byron Foy

© GM Media Archives

1934: LaSalle Model 350
Driver: ‘Big Boy’ Rader

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1935: Ford Model 48
Driver: Harry Mack

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1936: Packard One-Twenty
Driver: Tommy Milton

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1937: LaSalle Series 50
Driver: Ralph DePalma

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1938: Hudson ‘112’
Driver: Stuart Baits

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1939: Buick Roadmaster Series 80
Driver: Charles Chayne

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1940: Studebaker Champion (image not available)
Driver: Harry Hartz

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1941: Chrysler-Newport (Phaeton)
Driver: A.B. Couture

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1946: Lincoln Continental
Driver: Henry Ford II

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1947: Nash Ambassador
Driver: George W. Mason

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1948: Chevrolet Stylemaster Six-Series
Driver: Wilbur Shaw

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1949: Oldsmobile 88 ‘Rocket’
Driver: Wilbur Shaw

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1950: Mercury
Driver: Benson Ford

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1951: Chrysler New Yorker V-8
Driver: Dave Wallace

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1952: Studebaker Commander
Driver: P.O. Peterson

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1953: Ford Crestline Sunliner
Driver: William C. Ford

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1954: Dodge Royal 500
Driver: William C. Newburg

© General Motors

1955: Chevrolet Bel Air
Driver: T.H. Keating

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1956: DeSoto Fireflite Pacesetter
Driver: L.I. Woolson

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1957: Mercury Turnpike Cruiser
Driver: F.C. Reith

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1958: Pontiac Bonneville
Driver: Sam Hanks

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1959: Buick Electra 225
Driver: Sam Hanks

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1960: Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight
Driver: Sam Hanks

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1961: Ford Thunderbird
Driver: Sam Hanks

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1962: Studebaker
Driver: Sam Hanks

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1963: Chrysler ‘300’
Driver: Sam Hanks

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1964: Ford Mustang
Driver: Benson Ford

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1965: Plymouth Sports Fury
Driver: P.M. Buckminster

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1966: Mercury Comet Cyclone GT
Driver: Benson Ford

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1967: Chevrolet Camaro
Driver: Mauri Rose

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1968: Ford Torino GT
Driver: William C. Ford

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1969: Chevrolet Camaro SS
Driver: Jim Rathmann

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1970: Oldsmobile 4-4-2
Driver: Rodger Ward

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1971: Dodge Challenger
Driver: Eldon Palmer

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1972: Hurst/Olds Cutlass
Driver: Jim Rathmann

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1973: Cadillac Eldorado
Driver: Jim Rathmann

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1974: Hurst/Olds Cutlass
Driver: Jim Rathmann

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1975: Buick Century Custom ‘Free Spirit’
Driver: James Garner

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1976: Buick Turbocharged V-6
Driver: Marty Robbins

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1977: Oldsmobile Delta 88
Driver: James Garner

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1978: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Bret Kelley/IMS

1979: Ford Mustang
Driver: Jackie Stewart

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1980: Pontiac Turbo-Trans Am
Driver: Johnnie Parsons

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1981: Buick Regal V-6
Driver: Duke Nalon

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1982: Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© GM Media Archives

1983: Buick Riviera Convertible
Driver: Duke Nalon

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1984: Pontiac Fiero
Driver: John Callies

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1985: Oldsmobile Calais
Driver: James Garner

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1986: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Gen. Chuck Yeager

© Chris Owens/IMS

1987: Chrysler LeBaron
Driver: Carroll Shelby

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1988: Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Driver: Gen. Chuck Yeager

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1989: 20th Anniversary Pontiac Trans Am
Driver: Bobby Unser

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1990: Chevrolet Beretta
Driver: Jim Perkins

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1991: Dodge Viper RT/10
Driver: Carroll Shelby

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1992: Cadillac Allante
Driver: Bobby Unser

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1993: Chevrolet Camaro Z-28
Driver: Jim Perkins

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1994: Ford Mustang Cobra
Driver: Parnelli Jones

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1995: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Jim Perkins

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1996: Dodge Viper GTS
Driver: Robert A. Lutz

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1997: Oldsmobile Aurora
Driver: Johnny Rutherford

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1998: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Parnelli Jones

© GM Media Archives

1999: Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Driver: Jay Leno

© GM Media Archives

2000: Oldsmobile Aurora
Driver: Anthony Edwards

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway

2001: Oldsmobile Bravada
Driver: Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp

© General Motors

2002: 2003 Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Jim Caviezel

© Steve Snoddy/IMS

2003: Chevy SSR
Driver: Herb Fishel

© Ron McQueeney/IMS

2004: Chevrolet Corvette C5
Driver: Morgan Freeman

© Michael Voorhees/IMS

2005: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Gen. Colin Powell

© Ron McQueeney/IMS

2006: Chevrolet Corvette C6
Driver: Lance Armstrong

© Ron McQueeney/IMS

2007: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Patrick Dempsey

© Mike Harding/IMS

2008: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Emerson Fittipaldi

© Bret Kelley/IMS

2009: Chevrolet Camaro
Driver: Josh Duhamel

© General Motors

2010: Chevrolet Camaro SS
Driver: Robin Roberts

© General Motors

2011: Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Driver: A.J. Foyt Jr.

© General Motors

2012: Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Driver: Guy Fieri

© General Motors

2013: Corvette Stingray
Driver: Jim Harbaugh

© Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing

2014: Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Driver: Dario Franchitti

© IMS for Chevy Racing

2015: Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Driver: Jeff Gordon

© Bret Kelley/IMS for Chevrolet

2016: 50th Anniversary Chevrolet Camaro
Driver: Roger Penske

© Chris Owens/IMS for Chevy Racing

2017: Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Driver: Jeffrey Dean Morgan

© General Motors

2018: Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Driver: Victor Oladipo

© General Motors

2019: Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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