Corvette Grand Sport to pace 101st Indy 500

Photo: Chevrolet
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Another Corvette will be the pace car for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, this time the Corvette Grand Sport.

The full release and details are below:

The Corvette Grand Sport is the official pace car for the 2017 Indianapolis 500 and will lead drivers to the green flag on May 28 for the 101st running of the legendary race. 

It marks the 14th time a Corvette has served as the official pace car, starting in 1978, and the 28th time a Chevrolet has led the field, dating back to 1948. No other vehicle has served as the pace car more than the Corvette.

“Chevrolet is proud to once again pace the Indianapolis 500,” said Steve Majoros, marketing director for Cars and Crossovers. “The Corvette Grand Sport’s performance capability and motorsports heritage make it the perfect choice to pace the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport pace car features:

  • 460-hp (343 kW) LT1 direct-injected V-8 engine with dry-sump oiling and active exhaust
  • Eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission
  • Equipped with the available carbon-fiber ground effects package
  • Specific Grand Sport wheel design: 19 x 10-inch (front) and 20 x 12-inch (rear)
  • Standard magnetic ride control, specific stabilizer bars and unique springs
  • Standard electronic limited-slip differential
  • Includes the available Z07 package, with carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors and 285/30ZR19 (front) and 335/25ZR20 (rear) high-performance tires
  • Brembo Carbon Ceramic brake system with 15.5-inch (394 mm) rotors with six-piston calipers in front and 15.3-inch (380 mm) rotors with four-piston calipers in rear
  • Unique Indy 500 graphics package.

The Grand Sport pace car equipped with the Z07 package can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, cover the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds and achieve 1.2 g cornering capability.

Chevrolet has a storied history with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Chevrolet was founded in 1911, the year of the inaugural 500-mile race, and company cofounder Louis Chevrolet, along with brothers Arthur and Gaston, competed in early Indy 500 races. Arthur Chevrolet competed in the 1911 race and Gaston Chevrolet won it in 1920.

“Chevrolet and Indianapolis are inextricably linked, sharing one of the longest racing heritages in all of motorsports,” said J. Douglas Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We are proud of the longstanding relationship between Chevrolet and the Speedway and we love having the Corvette Grand Sport lead the 500 field to the green flag.”

Chevrolet is pursuing its sixth consecutive IndyCar manufacturer championship this year, building on a successful 2016 season that saw 14 wins out of 16 races.

FAST FACT: The first Chevrolet Indianapolis 500 pace car was a 1948 Fleetmaster Six convertible.

IndyCar drivers say Thermal Club could host race after successful opening day to test

IndyCar Thermal race
Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY Sports Images
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THERMAL, Calif. – The “motorsports country club” passed the first test (figuratively and literally) with NTT IndyCar Series drivers pleased enough to proclaim The Thermal Club as race-eligible after its debut.

Though there were a few minor incidents on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile permanent road course east of Palm Springs in Southern California’s Coachella Valley, there was no significant damage for the 27 full-time cars that turned 1,119 laps Thursday.

Perhaps more importantly, drivers seemed to enjoy the ride around the track, which is unlike anything on the current circuit.

“I would love to race here,” said Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Marcus Armstrong, who posted the 10th-quickest time (1 minute, 39.9077 seconds) in the No. 11 Dallara-Honda that he will race on street and road courses after coming from the F2 Series. “I think it’s awesome. Would have to do a lot of neck training prior to the race because it’s much like a European circuit, quite demanding on the neck, towards the end of the lap anyway.

PRACTICE SPEEDS: First session l Second session l Combined

‘AN AMAZING PLACE’: IndyCar and its big plans for Thermal

“I think it’s cool. Very flowing, banked corners, banked high-speed corners. In terms of racing, it could be potentially not a lot of overtaking. You’d have to commit hard (in) maybe Turn 1. It wouldn’t be the easiest place to overtake. As a whole facility and circuit, it’s very enjoyable.”

Juncos Hollinger Racing No. 77 Chevrolet driver Callum Ilott, another F2 veteran who is entering his second year in IndyCar, was seventh fastest. Ilott said Thermal would “set a standard really of what we want to be doing with this series.

“It’s really, really high level, high tech,” said Ilott, whose rookie teammate Agustin Canapino went off course twice but incurred no major trouble. “As a circuit, yeah, it’s got a little bit different corners. I think the overtaking — we’ll find a way, we’re IndyCar — someone always sends it down the inside. I think if we can extend the straight and get some overtaking between Turn 6 and 7. It’s definitely a great circuit to drive and good fun and a bit different to the normal winter training we get in Florida. So I like the circuit.

“I think if we could, it would be good to race here once.”

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta, who turned the fastest lap (1:39.3721) in his No. 26, also was optimistic despite the passing challenges.

“I think it really comes down to tire deg, what people are showing with that,” Herta said. “It will be tough to pass, right? A lot of the good braking zones, you’re coming off of high-speed corners, so it will be hard to follow.

“But you never know. I would say some of the tracks we go to would be terrible for racing, and IndyCar still puts on a great show. You never know until it’s tested and proven right or wrong.”

The possibility of adding an IndyCar race at The Thermal Club has been floated, but there would be some challenges. It likely would be a made-for-TV event given it’s a private club (and filled with multimillion-dollar homes filled with vintage cars). The test is closed to the public and open only to members and VIPs.

There also are some areas that would need to be improved, namely the galvanized steel Armco barriers that ring the track and generally are considered antiquated in motorsports.

“I think the Armco might propose a little bit of an issue,” Ilott said. “Again, it depends on what angle you’re hitting them obviously. It’s a pretty straightforward process to make it a bit safer and a bit more cushiony. I’m not in charge of that stuff. I just drive and try not to hit those things.

“I think it’s a straightforward process. To be fair, everyone has had a little moment today, spun and carried on. That’s a good start. Obviously there are anomalies, these things happen. So far, so good.”

Said Herta: For sure. It probably needs a little bit of work. They’ve already done a lot for us to come here already. It seems like if they do want to have a race here, they’re willing to put the work in and money in to upgrade the facility to make it a little bit safer for us.”

Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was second fastest (1:39.3767), followed by Alex Palou (1:39.3970) and Romain Grosjean (1:39.4826). Will Power was the top Chevrolet driver in fifth (1:39.5690).

Though Andretti had two of the top four times, Herta downplayed the significance other than getting reacclimated to his team.

“Just a lot of knocking the rust off,” he said. “It’s quite a long offseason without being in the car. I don’t know how much we’re really going to learn from running here. It’s really good to get the team back into it, get all the boys working again. Yeah, just get everybody back into the flow of it.

“It could be a huge shake-up when we go to St. Pete and who’s up front and who’s at the back. It is too early to tell. It’s nice just to be back in the car and get lap times down, get everybody working again.

“The track surface is very strange, very different to anything I’ve really felt in IndyCar. It’s seven first-gear corners. We don’t really have that many anywhere we go on a street course. It is quite a bit slower than our natural terrain courses. But I don’t want to be in here and dig it the whole time. It’s a fun track to drive, especially the back section. It keeps you on your toes. It doesn’t really replicate anything else that we go (race).”

The test will continue with another six-hour session Friday.