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What is an Event Car ??

Above: The 500 Festival Committee members with their 2008 Corvettes at Monument Circle.

In the simplest term, an "Event Car" is a Corvette that was used in some supporting role during a race. This could be one of the large series events, such as the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, Daytona 500, 24 Hours of LeMans, an American LeMans series race, or anything down to your local speedway.

The Event Car could be a Replica of the actual Pace Car used that year (1978, 1986, 1995, 1998, 2007, or 2008, like the car pictured above), or "stock" Corvettes that were shipped to the Speedway for use during the race and had special event graphics applied to support another model from the same manufacturer (as in 1990, when a Chevrolet Beretta was the Pace Car, but Corvettes were there in a supporting role).

Corvette has paced the Indianapolis 500 no less than ten times, the Brickyard 400 five times, and has been at the track in a support mode during several more years. We will be focusing on those used at an Indianapolis Motor Speedway event, since that is where our largest following is since Chevrolet has built replicas of Corvette Pace Cars in six of the ten years that Corvette has paced the 500, and we have in-depth knowledge of these cars when used at these races. But we would love to hear about your own Corvette Pace car from the Brickyard 400, or any of the other series, so send in your information and photos to our Communications Director.

Over the years, owners have come to hear these special vehicles referred to as "Festival cars", "Parade cars", "Track cars", "Dealer Drive-Away cars", or something else. That is because over these years, the role that the Event Car's have played has changed from year to year. Below are the most common uses for these cars that will help you identify what role a Corvette may have played. It is possible, based on the race year, that a Corvette played several roles, but in other years, a very small role, however we would like to include and recognize all cars from these years. If you have specific questions about how a Corvette may have been used in a specific year, please check out that year on the appropriate year Event car page.

Here is our view on the three major categories.

  • Indy 500 Festival Car

Above: The 2009 IPL 500 Festival Parade - this Corvette carrying driver Scott Dixon and his wife.

On the Saturday prior to the running of the Indianapolis 500, on the streets of downtown Indianapolis, there is The IPL 500 Festival Parade. More than 300,000 spectators will kick-off race weekend while enjoying time with family and friends by watching the pageantry and larger-than-life floats light up the city. The tradition continues with the 33 starting drivers of the Indianapolis 500 serving as honorary grand marshals the day before the race, riding in the traditional rows of three, with the winner of the pole position bringing up the rear.

The mission of The 500 Festival is to advocate and celebrate the spirit, heritage and legacy of the Indianapolis 500. Through social, cultural and educational events and programs, The 500 Festival enhances the quality of life for all citizens of their communities.

Thirty-five community and business leaders serve on The 500 Festival Board. To this end, the Board Members are each assigned one of the support vehicles delivered to the Speedway each year to use during the month of May and these vehicles are driven around Indiana to various annual committee sponsored pre-race events. These vehicles are referred to as "Festival Cars". Additionally, these vehicles may be used to carry the drivers in The 500 Festival parade, but not necessarily (one example would be in 2010 when Chevrolet Camaro SS coupes were assigned to the committee members, however Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks were used in the Parade since the Camaro coupes did not lend themselves well to carrying the drivers).

  • Indy 500 or Brickyard 400 Track Car

Above: A 2004 Corvette Track Car carries race winner Jeff Gordon on his winner's lap.
Notice the door event graphic changed from the Indy 500 to the Brickyard 400 !

The term "Track Car" can be used for both the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 races. In some years, the same vehicles were used as both Festival Cars and Track cars, although they were assigned to their specific duty group. In the case of the Brickyard 400, The 500 Festival committee is not involved in that event, so no cars are assigned out to that group for this race, so consequently there are fewer Track Cars than seen at the Indy 500.

Track Cars are those assigned to the Speedway and are then allocated to IMS track executives or staff, local civic leaders (Police Chief, Mayor,etc.), and in some years to members of the TV and Radio media, Manufacturer executives (Chevrolet, Valvoline, etc.), or even TV or movie stars.

In some of the later years, Corvettes were delivered to the Speedway and used during the Indy 500, then had their event decal removed from the door, and rebadged for the Brickyard 400, U.S Grand Prix, and even the Red Bull Indianapolis GP Motorcycle race before being released for sale to the public.

  • Special Program Vehicles

Above: The 2004 "Dealer Drive-away" pre-race lap.

This category of Event Car is limited to only several years of Corvette's involvement at the Speedway. These cars are there for one specific use, for example Chevrolet dealer sales campaigns or other types of marketing programs.

One example is during 2004, when there were White Corvettes and Red Chevrolet SSR's that were used for Sponsor / VIP laps, and Lemans Blue Corvettes that were used for the "Dealer drive-away" program that was sponsored by the North Central Region of Chevrolet. The latter program was a pre-race lap on track carrying members of the Armed Forces. Post race, these cars were then distributed and sold to the public with the history of being used on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

So, we hope this overview helped out in your understanding of these unique vehicles.