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Reunion 2001!


If you weren't there, you should have been! It was the largest assemblage of Indy Pace Cars the world has ever seen! I lost track of the exact number in all the different events, but upwards of (22) '95 Pace Cars were on hand for the Pace Car Reunion / Celebration at Indianapolis and Bowling Green, held October 10-14. There were a like number of '78s and even more '98s, a few '86s, and (2) '90 Festival Corvettes. The Museum doesn't count cars, just people, and the official head count was 246! This included a group of some 40 enthusiastic folks from an east-coast car club, so I estimate that there were nearly 100 of all years of our cars present during the long weekend.

For those who missed it, here's a rough account of what went on.

The first meeting point was Indy itself, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the mecca of U.S. auto racing since the early 1900s. We gathered at the Brickyard Crossing, a hotel just a stone's throw from the track itself and directly accessible to it.

We were awakened by a steady rain on Thursday, October 11; but most of us, undaunted, lined up in the Crossing parking lot for our lap around the track. (As we waited for our turn to move on the track, I wondered how many cars, besides my #216, were being driven in the rain for the first time!!) We were warned that 30mph was max for the lap, and a couple of drivers ('98 hotshots, I believe) were severly chastised for lighting up their tires along the way. At the end of the lap, photo-op time, still in the rain, but a gorgeous shot of all 5 Pace/Festival Car examples, with all of us in the background at the front entrance to the Museum.

Early the next morning, still dodging rain clouds, the Caravan staged for the trip to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, some 230 miles down I-65. Folks ended up in clusters of cars and cars-in-trailers, and most of us made it to the scheduled guided tour in the assembly plant in the early afternoon.

Above and below: Arriving at the NCM and receiving our next instructions.

Above: Where do they find this stuff??

Above; Another photo-op in the NCM parking lot, and Below; Arriving at the Corvette Assembly Plant for our guided tours..

The highlight of the day was the road trip through town and out to Wendell Strode's (NCM Executive Director) house-cum-farm for a BBQ dinner. The rain stopped for a while by then, and we were able to park on the gorgeous lawns of the historic site.

The next day was my favorite; I got to be a "celebrity choice judge", and my choice was one of Paul Barth's 4 Pace Cars. Paul was asked to send his all-years' examples up from St. Louis, and they were displayed beautifully in one of the Museum's "avenue" alcoves. Spotless they were, pristine low-mile examples of the very best of our cars. Paul's '86 is a story in itself, rescued back from Canada at a high degree of difficulty, a car in which once sat Princess Diana on a voyage from the UK.

Pictured above: Paul Barth in the lobby of the NCM.

Another highlight; The Reunion banquet with an auction that raised some $ 3,000 for the NCM. (Stu Robbins contributed the shirt off his back for this event.)

Also that evening, we finally formally organized all of the "Corvette Indy Pace Car Registries" under a single umbrella, "The Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car Registry". Stuart Robbins will coordinate the '78s, Ralph Christ will be in charge of the '86s, Richard "Rick" Berry will do the '98s (Ralph and Rick have all 4 years'), and I will continue with the '95s. Paul Barth was named interim Treasurer.

Pictured Above, the "Founding Fathers" - from left to right: Ralph Christ, Stuart Robbins (back to camera),
Rick Berry, and Noel Osborn.

We've all wanted for a long time to get together on this project, but at over 14,000 total Pace Cars, it's a daunting task for any one of us. This was the first time there's been the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a consolidated effort to unite all Pace Car owners, while still maintaining an individual approach to owners of each year. This consolidation will also make it easier for the NCM and other organizations to relate to us as a unit.

Our first act as a unit was to pledge the placement of a brick set to the Musuem commemorating the Pace Car Celebration. We hope to schedule our Reunions every two years, so watch for information on our next event during 2003!!

T. Noel Osborn (’95 #216)

Email: thewave500@sbcglobal.net