There have been a ton of different pace cars in NASCAR history. From sports cars to sedans, the pace cars range in size, style, and finesse. There are a few, though, that stick out in recent NASCAR history as especially important or awesome. Sometimes the cars represent causes, or are just flat out awesome cars that naturally steal the limelight. Here is a list of five memorable pace cars that have stuck out in my memory as being awesome or inspirational over the past couple years.
5) The 2011 Chevy Camaro SS
This pink beast was the pace car for the 2011 Spring Cup series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I remember watching this race and thinking, “Why is that car pink!?!?! This is a man’s sport!!!” Of course, I figured it out pretty quick and subsequently donated to the American Cancer society.
During the race, Chevrolet made a $200 donation for each caution lap completed by the pink Camaro. While this is not the first pink pace car to ever grace a NASCAR track with donations for laps completed, it’s certainly the manliest pink car I’ve ever seen.
4) The 2012 Ford Focus Electric
The electric Ford Focus paced the Sprint Cup Richmond 400 in 2012. The Focus marked the first time in NASCAR history that an all-electric car was used as a pace car. There were doubts; pace cars must handle difficult driving conditions. Unlike the cars it was leading, the Focus ran quiet and clean.
Having an all-electric pace car was of course a publicity move by Ford to get consumers interested in electric cars, and it worked! Even though NASCAR fans have petroleum in their veins and octane on their brains, they also like fuel economy in their everyday driving.
The Batmobile paced (kinda) the Michigan International Speedway for a race called the “Batman Begins 400.” The Batmobile aka “The Tumbler” acted as a honorary Pace Car for NASCAR’S first ever movie sponsored race for the release of Batman Begins. The Tumbler did a parade lap at the beginning of the race, but handed over pace duties to a more qualified vehicle, the Chevy SSR Pace truck.
Batman even served as the Race Marshall, growling, “driver’s start your engines.”
2) Ford Police Interceptors – 2012
In November of 2012, the 2013 Ford Police Interceptors paced the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway. Instead of chasing down speeding cars, however, the Interceptor had speeding cars chase it. The Interceptor is designed with all the latest engineering safety feats and technological innovations, so it didn’t have to go through much modification to perform as a Pace Car.
There were a couple of different races that the Interceptors paced, and they all looked awesome. These races were the launch of the Interceptors, both the Sedan and the Utility vehicle.
1) The 2014 Corvette Stingray
Holy awesome. The new 2014 Stingray served as the Pace Car for the Indy 500 at the vaunted Brickyard back in May. That race marked the 12th time a Corvette was picked for the Pace Car. Usually a Pace Car has to go through some powertrain upgrades to stay ahead of the pack, but no the Stingray. It sports a 6.2L LT1 engine that supports fuel injection, continuous variable valve timing, and Active Fuel management.
The Stingray rumbles out 450hp and can get from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds. It’s cool to have Camrys, Focuses, and other sedans and cars be Pace Cars every once in a while, but the Corvette is the ultimate Pace Car that catches eyes and makes true auto-fans drool.
Pace Cars are usually used during the caution laps in case there is debris on the track, an accident, or bad weather. Pace Cars are also called Safety Cars. Any car chosen to pace must go through safety procedures and refinements, including added yellow lights and tires that can find traction in any environment.
Frank Rockwell is a car enthusiast with a natural proclivity for Corvettes.