2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible becomes official Indy 500 Pace Car

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 21, 2011

GM revealed today a special-edition Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, which will be the official pace car of the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Limited to just 50 units, the first car of this edition will be sold at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale classic auto auction. Moreover, GM will donate full proceeds of the auction to the David Foster Foundation, a charity that supports families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants.

Regarding the new car, this will feature a design inspired by the 1969 Camaro Indy pace car, known as one of the most popular Camaros in the collector world.

Under the hood, you will find an impressive V8 engine delivering 400-horsepower (298 kW) and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. All 50 of the Festival Committees cars will be SS convertible models and will feature the 2SS equipment package.

For those who don’t know, the 2SS package includes four-wheel disc brakes with Brembo four-piston calipers and hydraulic assist, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, competitive/sport mode that enhances on-track performance, launch control, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels wrapped in high performance tires, head-up instrument display and center console with auxiliary gauge package. Moreover, the car will also be fitted with the RS package, which includes console with auxiliary gauge package.

The new Camaro Convertible offers customers the dynamics of a coupe and the pleasure offered by open-air driving. It is built with an improved structure designed to get rid of the usual tradeoffs of open cars, like cowl or steering wheel shake.

To achieve this, Chevrolet provided the Camaro with four strategic reinforcements, including a tower-to-tower brace under the hood, a transmission support reinforcement brace, underbody tunnel brace and front and rear underbody “V” braces.

Since Chevrolet was aiming to create a convertible that drives like the coupe, it decided to have the Camaro convertible inherit all the powertrain and suspension elements of the current Camaro Coupe. Moreover, the top of the convertible features a smooth, tailored fit.

Additionally, the headliner comes with acoustical foam to allow the convertible to offer a quiet ride when the top is up. Its power-folding top is built in cooperation with the manufacturer that produced the Corvette convertible top, and even operates in a similar manner.

The top could retract in just 20 seconds and folds in a simple “Z” pattern. It then latches with a single handle at the center of the windshield header – for easier one-hand operation. This is in contrast to other convertibles in this segment which have tops that feature dual latches that require two hands to be operated.

Chevrolet will commence shipment of the 2011 Camaro Convertible at its dealerships this month. This should further boost Camaro’s sales leadership in its class in the United States. Every Chevrolet of today features a pace car heritage. Engineer, mechanic and racer Louis Chevrolet co-founded the brand along with William “Billy” Durant in 1911.

Chevrolet competed in the younger years of Indianapolis 500, which coincidentally also commenced in 1911. He has driven the official Indianapolis pace car that was developed by Indy 500 founder Carl Fisher, who considered a rolling start as safer than a standing start. Fisher drove the pace car in the first Indianapolis 500.

Press Release

2011 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Replicas To Be Offered To Customers

A special-edition Chevrolet Camaro Convertible will be the official pace car of the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Chevrolet will produce 500 matching replicas of this special Indianapolis 500 Pace Car so that enthusiasts can purchase their own piece of history.

The 2011 Camaro Convertible is the 22nd Chevrolet and the seventh Camaro chosen to pace what is known as “the greatest spectacle in racing.” Adding to that rich heritage is the fact that 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of both Chevrolet and the Indianapolis 500.

“It's an honor for Chevrolet to pace the Indianapolis 500, especially during this landmark year,” said Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet marketing. “This is also a great opportunity for us to build on Camaro’s strong momentum, pay tribute to its history and celebrate the ongoing launch of the new Camaro Convertible.”

The pace car and replicas feature a Summit White exterior accented with orange stripes and door graphics. The interior is trimmed in orange leather, with front-seat headrests embossed with the Indy 500 logo, along with white door panels and instrument panel trim. The instrument panel trim also features extensions of the orange exterior stripes.

The color combination is similar to the design used on the 1969 Camaro Indy pace car – replicas of which have become among the most popular Camaros in the collector world.

“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Chevrolet name have long been associated with one another beginning with Louis and Gaston Chevrolet’s participation as competitors in the Indianapolis 500,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and CEO Jeff Belskus. “It is fitting in this 100th year for both brands that we reinforce that relationship through this year’s Camaro pace car, which resembles what many argue is the most famous pace car in IMS history, the 1969 Camaro. We are looking forward to seeing this car on the track, pacing the greatest 33 drivers in the world on May 29.”

All the Indy Pace Car convertibles will be Camaro SS models equipped with the 6.2L V-8 engine, and the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Last month at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale classic car auction, Chevrolet auctioned the opportunity to purchase the first of 50 Indianapolis 500 Festival Committee cars.. All the proceeds from the sale went to the David Foster Foundation, which supports families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants. The Festival Committee car, which matches the styling of the actual pace car and the replicas that will be sold to the public, sold for $225,000.

Replica details

All 500 pace car replicas – and the Festival Committee cars – are SS convertibles fitted with the 2SS equipment package, and offer these standard features:

  • Four-wheel disc brakes with Brembo four-piston calipers and hydraulic assist
  • StabiliTrak electronic stability control
  • Competitive/sport mode that enhances on-track performance
  • Performance Launch Control (with the manual transmission) that optimizes hard-acceleration launches for quicker, more consistent performance
  • Twenty-inch polished aluminum wheels and performance tires
  • Head-up instrument display
  • Center console with auxiliary gauge package.
  • Along with the 2SS equipment, the cars feature the RS package, which includes high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and unique taillamps.

The Camaro Convertible delivers coupe-like driving dynamics with the fun of open-air driving. The Convertible model’s enhanced structure is designed to eliminate the traditional compromises of open cars, such as cowl or steering wheel shake. The goal is a convertible that drives like the coupe. All the powertrain and suspension elements of the existing Camaro Coupe carry over unchanged in the convertible. The top has a smooth, tailored fit, with acoustical foam in the headliner that helps deliver a quiet ride with the top up.

Four strategic reinforcements enhance the already-stiff body structure to eliminate cowl and steering wheel shake. They include:

  • A tower-to-tower brace under the hood
  • A transmission support reinforcement brace
  • Underbody tunnel brace
  • Front and rear underbody “V” braces.

The power-folding top retracts in about 20 seconds. It is built in partnership with the same manufacturer as the Corvette convertible top, and operates in a similar manner. It folds in a simple “Z” pattern and latches with a single, convenient handle located at the center of the windshield header. Other convertible models in this segment still offer convertible tops with dual latches, forcing drivers into two-hand operations reaching across the car.

The regular-production versions of the 2011 Camaro Convertible begin arriving in Chevrolet dealerships this month, opening a new chapter in the Camaro’s ongoing 21st-century rebirth. Even before the introduction of a convertible model, Camaro was the sales leader in its class in the United States in 2010 – for the first time since 1985.

Chevrolet’s pace car heritage

Louis Chevrolet, who founded the brand with William “Billy” Durant in 1911, was a racer, mechanic and pioneering engineer. He raced in the early years of the Indianapolis 500, which also started in 1911, and was a luminary of the event in the years after he retired his racing helmet. That included driving the official Indianapolis pace car, which was developed by Indy 500 founder Carl Fisher, who believed a rolling start was safer than a standing start. The first Indianapolis 500 featured a pace car driven by Fisher.

The first Chevrolet selected as the Indianapolis 500 pace car was the 1948 Fleetmaster Six. The brand would go on to lead the racing pack more than any other manufacturer. The list of Chevy pace cars includes:

  • 1948 Fleetmaster Six
  • 1955 Bel Air
  • 1967 Camaro
  • 1969 Camaro
  • 1978 Corvette
  • 1982 Camaro
  • 1986 Corvette
  • 1990 Beretta
  • 1993 Camaro
  • 1995 Corvette
  • 1998 Corvette
  • 1999 Monte Carlo
  • 2002 Corvette
  • 2003 SSR
  • 2004 Corvette
  • 2005 Corvette
  • 2006 Corvette
  • 2007 Corvette
  • 2008 Corvette
  • 2009 Camaro
  • 2010 Camaro
  • 2011 Camaro.

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