A distinct example of the 2017 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition will be the pace car at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. This version of the 2017 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition will be driven by motorsports legend Roger Penske, who is incidentally celebrating his 50th year as a race team owner.
This will be the ninth time Camaro was tapped as the pace car, while it’s the 27th time for Chevrolet – since 1948 – to serve the role. Chevrolet is also preparing four identical pace cars to support the Indianapolis 500. All these pace cars are wrapped in Abalone White exterior color, featuring "100th Running of the Indianapolis 500" graphics on the doors and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wing-and-wheel logo on the quarter panels.
These pace cars also feature exterior cues and graphics that could be found in the Camaro 50th Anniversary package that will be available starting this summer. All these Camaro pace cars are powered by a 455-hp engine, which means they need no performance modifications to serve their roles. Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development and Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, remarked that Chevrolet and the Indianapolis 500 share a long, storied history, adding that it is a privilege to celebrate the milestones of the Indy 500 race and the Camaro.
Reuss added that it is a privilege to have Penske drive the 2017 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition pace car at the race, noting that his team is credited for giving Chevrolet four IndyCar manufacturer titles since 2012. Meanwhile, J. Douglas Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, remarked that both Chevrolet and Penske are linked to the heritage of the Indianapolis 500.
He quipped that when Penske leads the race behind the wheel of the Camaro SS on May 29, he would not only drive the race to its next 100 years but also reinforce the bond between Chevrolet and Indianapolis. For this year, Chevrolet drivers aim to ride on the momentum set last year, when the top four finishers – including Team Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya -- were all driving Chevrolet races.
Montoya’s 2015 win marked his second Indy 500 victory and the 16th for Team Penske. So far, Team Penske has been the most successful team at Indy 500. The run started in 1972 with Mark Donohue taking the win.
Six years earlier, Penske transitioned from driver to team owner, tapping Donohue as the driver in the process. The duo instantly found their grove in SCCA's Trans-Am Series, with Donohue – in his Camaro Z/28 racecar – grabbing three of 12 races in 1967 and 10 of 13 in the year after. Penske, with Donohue as his driver, challenged the Indy 500 in 1969, while still fielding a Camaro in Trans-Am.
Penske was able to tap drivers like Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Mears grabbed four Indy 500 races, thereby helping Team Penske boost its status as a powerhouse in the 1980s.
For this year, Penske is looking towards winning 17th Indy 500 title as a team owner. The latest generation of the Chevrolet Camaro is taking performance, technology and refinement into a whole new level.