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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