I Am Indy: Chevrolet's 2007 Indianapolis 500 Corvette Pace Car Replica

Last year we were lucky enough to be feted by the General down at the Indy 500, getting a taste of beer the way it was meant to be served — dripping down our forehead after a half-empty found our noggin an appealing target. Otherwise, it was an amazing experience and although I don't necessarily understand why someone would want to drive around in a Corvette decaled-up to look like the "Official Pace Car" for the race, I understand that some people do like to roll like that. That's why Chevy's creating several identically prepped and "uniquely trimmed" 'vette 'verts, all in the new Atomic Vomit Orange paint with gold ribbon graphics. On a performance level, they'll be equipped with the Corvette's standard LS2 small-block V-8 and Z51 performance package. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with the six-speed paddle-shift automatic optional. And with pricing at the much-higher-than-standard $69,995 MSRP for the manny tranny version and $68,245 for the paddle-shift model, with no performance enhancements — you better really like decals and pinstriping. Gallery below and release after the jump.

A 2007 Chevrolet Corvette convertible will pace the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 27, 2007. As it was selected as the Official Pace Car, Chevrolet will supply several identically prepared and uniquely trimmed Corvette convertibles - in new Atomic Orange paint with distinctive gold ribbon graphics - that will serve in the official pace duties of the race, as well as supporting activities.

Five hundred production replicas of those official cars will be offered to the public - all of them convertibles. They'll be available beginning this spring.

The distinguishing features of the pace car replica convertibles include:

Atomic Orange exterior color, including door handles

Indianapolis 500 exterior graphics - including gold ribbon graphics that flow outward from the front fender vents and "Indianapolis 500" door logos

Special Indianapolis 500 fender badges

Z06 rear spoiler

New aluminum "split-spoke" wheels in Sterling Silver

Ebony seats with embroidered Indianapolis 500 logos

Interior trim plate and pods painted Atomic Orange

Atomic Orange engine covers

All of the pace car replicas are equipped with the Corvette's standard LS2 small-block V-8 and Z51 performance package. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with the six-speed paddle-shift automatic optional. The navigation system with Bose audio, as well as OnStar, is standard.

Pricing for the pace car replica convertible is $66,995 MSRP, including destination. The paddle-shift six-speed automatic is the only option, which brings the price to $68,245.

The performance-bred Corvette handles its official pace duties in nearly factory-stock trim, with little more than race track-required safety equipment and strobe lights added - as well as, of course, the eye-catching graphics. In years past, many Indy pace cars required extensive modification to perform their on-track tasks. The 2007 Corvette's powertrain and suspension, including the 400-horsepower (298 kW) LS2 small-block V-8 engine, are more than adequate to maintain the speed, acceleration and handling required to lead the pack around the famed "Brickyard" race track.

This year marks the ninth time Corvette has served as the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500. The previous years were 1978, 1986, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. It also is a record fourth consecutive turn for the Corvette, as well as a record 18th time for a Chevrolet, to be selected as the pace car.

Production replicas were not offered every time the Corvette was selected as the pace car. In fact, 2007 marks the first time Chevrolet has offered a regular-production replica since 1998. But along with the regular-production models, several dozen copies of all the pace cars have been used for official activities in support of their respective Indianapolis 500 races, such as parades. These cars - known as "festival" cars - have become prized collectibles, along with the limited-edition regular-production replicas.

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