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

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1925: Rickenbacker Eight
Driver: Eddie Rickenbacker

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 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

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1929: Studebaker Series F-10 President
Driver: George Hunt

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1930: Cord L-29
Driver: Wade Morton

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1931: Cadillac 370 Twelve
Driver: ‘Big Boy’ Rader

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1932: Lincoln Model KB
Driver: Edsel Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1933: Chrysler Imperial (Phaeton)
Driver: Byron Foy

© GM Media Archives 1934: LaSalle Model 350
Driver: ‘Big Boy’ Rader

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1935: Ford Model 48
Driver: Harry Mack

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1936: Packard One-Twenty
Driver: Tommy Milton

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1937: LaSalle Series 50
Driver: Ralph DePalma

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1938: Hudson ‘112’
Driver: Stuart Baits

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1939: Buick Roadmaster Series 80
Driver: Charles Chayne

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1940: Studebaker Champion (image not available)
Driver: Harry Hartz

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1941: Chrysler-Newport (Phaeton)
Driver: A.B. Couture

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1946: Lincoln Continental
Driver: Henry Ford II

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1947: Nash Ambassador
Driver: George W. Mason

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1948: Chevrolet Stylemaster Six-Series
Driver: Wilbur Shaw

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1949: Oldsmobile 88 ‘Rocket’
Driver: Wilbur Shaw

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1950: Mercury
Driver: Benson Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1951: Chrysler New Yorker V-8
Driver: Dave Wallace

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1952: Studebaker Commander
Driver: P.O. Peterson

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1953: Ford Crestline Sunliner
Driver: William C. Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1954: Dodge Royal 500
Driver: William C. Newburg

© General Motors 1955: Chevrolet Bel Air
Driver: T.H. Keating

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1956: DeSoto Fireflite Pacesetter
Driver: L.I. Woolson

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1957: Mercury Turnpike Cruiser
Driver: F.C. Reith

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1958: Pontiac Bonneville
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1959: Buick Electra 225
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1960: Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1961: Ford Thunderbird
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1962: Studebaker
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1963: Chrysler ‘300’
Driver: Sam Hanks

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1964: Ford Mustang
Driver: Benson Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1965: Plymouth Sports Fury
Driver: P.M. Buckminster

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1966: Mercury Comet Cyclone GT
Driver: Benson Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1967: Chevrolet Camaro
Driver: Mauri Rose

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1968: Ford Torino GT
Driver: William C. Ford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1969: Chevrolet Camaro SS
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1970: Oldsmobile 4-4-2
Driver: Rodger Ward

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1971: Dodge Challenger
Driver: Eldon Palmer

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1972: Hurst/Olds Cutlass
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1973: Cadillac Eldorado
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1974: Hurst/Olds Cutlass
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1975: Buick Century Custom ‘Free Spirit’
Driver: James Garner

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1976: Buick Turbocharged V-6
Driver: Marty Robbins

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1977: Oldsmobile Delta 88
Driver: James Garner

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1978: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© Bret Kelley/IMS 1979: Ford Mustang
Driver: Jackie Stewart

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1980: Pontiac Turbo-Trans Am
Driver: Johnnie Parsons

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1981: Buick Regal V-6
Driver: Duke Nalon

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1982: Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Driver: Jim Rathmann

© GM Media Archives 1983: Buick Riviera Convertible
Driver: Duke Nalon

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1984: Pontiac Fiero
Driver: John Callies

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1985: Oldsmobile Calais
Driver: James Garner

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1986: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Gen. Chuck Yeager

© Chris Owens/IMS 1987: Chrysler LeBaron
Driver: Carroll Shelby

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1988: Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Driver: Gen. Chuck Yeager

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1989: 20th Anniversary Pontiac Trans Am
Driver: Bobby Unser

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1990: Chevrolet Beretta
Driver: Jim Perkins

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1991: Dodge Viper RT/10
Driver: Carroll Shelby

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1992: Cadillac Allante
Driver: Bobby Unser

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1993: Chevrolet Camaro Z-28
Driver: Jim Perkins

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1994: Ford Mustang Cobra
Driver: Parnelli Jones

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1995: Chevrolet Corvette
Driver: Jim Perkins

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1996: Dodge Viper GTS
Driver: Robert A. Lutz

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1997: Oldsmobile Aurora
Driver: Johnny Rutherford

© Indianapolis Motor Speedway 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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