Greatest collection of Indy 500 pace cars to be displayed soon

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There are cool events – and then there are waaaayyyyy cool events, and that’s what’s going to take place at the upcoming Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals.

If you’re an Indianapolis 500 fan and have long admired the different pace cars that lead the field in each year’s self-described Greatest Spectacle in Racing, you owe it to yourself to find a way to Chicago next month.

For it’s there that one of the greatest collections of original Indy 500 pace cars — the actual one’s that paced the field — will be on display Nov. 22-23 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois (a Chicago suburb that borders O’Hare Airport).

According to Hemmings.com, one of the most notable cars on display will be the 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible (pictured) that holds the unique distinction of, uh, well, err, crashing on the pace lap!

The car went out of control and plowed into a photographer’s stand, injuring more than two dozen photogs. In the car as passengers were astronaut John Glenn, Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman, and ABC announcer Chris Schenkel, who along with driver Eldon Palmer were shaken up but uninjured in the mishap.

As Hemmings described it, “John Glenn had survived being shot into space, dozens of combat missions during World War II and the Korean War, and a career as a test pilot. But one Saturday in May of 1971 he nearly lost his life to a car dealer driving an out-of-control Dodge Challenger, a car that will go on display next month as part of what promises to be the world’s largest gathering of Indianapolis 500 pace cars ever.”

Palmer somehow lost control of the car, which eventually was repaired back to its original state. Palmer owned the car for 35 years until he sold it to Indiana collector Steven Cage in 2006.

Other pace cars expected to be on hand include twin 1969 Chevrolet Camaros (shown together for the first time since that year’s 500), a 1970 Olds 442, 1976 Buick Century, 1977 Olds Delta 88, 1981 Buick Regal, 1989 Pontiac Trans Am GTA, 1993 Chevy Camaro Z-28, the 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo that paced the 1999 Daytona 500 and more.

And here’s the best part of all: Those that attend the Nationals can enter their name to win a giveaway car, a 1970 Olds 442 Indy 500 replica.

Nationals organizer Bob Ashton can’t talk enough about the uniqueness of having so many original pace cars on hand in one location.

“Anybody can put together a group of replicas,” Ashton told Hemmings.com. “But from what we’ve been told, there’s never been more than three real pace cars in one spot before.”

For more information, visit MCACN.com.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”