Corvette Will Lead Field to Green

News from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

2021 Mid-Engine Corvette Stingray Convertible To Lead Field to Green Flag of 105thIndianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge

This is the 18th time a Chevrolet Corvette has paced ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’

INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, May 11, 2021) – The 2021 mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette Stingray hardtop convertible will lead the 33-car field to the green flag for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 30, 2021. The Arctic White Stingray will be the first convertible since 2008 to pace the iconic race.

Chevrolet and Corvette have led the starting field more than any other manufacturer and nameplate, respectively. The 2021 race marks the 32nd time for Chevrolet to pace dating back to 1948, and the 18th time since 1978 for America’s favorite sports car.

“The Chevrolet team is privileged every time we’re invited to pace the Indianapolis 500,” said Steve Majoros, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing. “We are confident the track-capable Corvette Stingray Convertible will catch every race fan’s eye as it leads the pack toward the Yard of Bricks. From the color scheme, to the special race weekend decals and how the safety lighting is skillfully integrated into the nacelles of the hard-top convertible Corvette’s revolutionary appearance, we’re putting Chevrolet’s best on display for the fans.”

The exterior and interior of the Corvette Convertible will be on full display as the car fulfills responsibilities on and off track. Sky Cool Gray and Strike Yellow upholstery selected for the cabin influenced the racy exterior appearance of the pace car. A close look at the car reveals Indianapolis 500 logos adapted specifically for pace car use, an exclusive stripe package, unique Stingray decals and more.

For racers, highly visible safety lighting on the pace car is a top priority. Corvette designers prioritized form and function by incorporating four lights into each of the tonneau cover nacelles, in addition to strobe lights in the headlights, front louvers and taillights. This maintains the Corvette Convertible’s signature silhouette and eliminates need for a traditional lightbar.

“The 2021 Corvette Stingray hardtop convertible is such a world-class performance car that’s a perfect match to lead the talented field of 33 drivers to the green flag in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said. “We continue to be grateful for our strong, enduring partnership with Chevrolet and its many contributions to the success of our events and the exciting appeal of competition at the Racing Capital of the World.”

The mid-engine 2021 Corvette Stingray was engineered first and foremost as a convertible. The convertible maintains the tunnel-dominant structure and use of high-integrity die-cast parts found in the Stingray coupe.

Like the coupe, the Stingray convertible’s design was inspired by fighter jets. The tonneau cover features aerodynamically shaped nacelles influenced by the housing used for jet engines. The nacelles, which were also used as inspiration on the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle (CERV) I and II, as well as the Corvette SS and SR2 concepts, help reduce air recirculation into the cabin and provide a remarkably exotic profile with the top up or down. The tonneau also provides a rear power-adjustable window and a vent for mid-engine cooling.

The 2021 Corvette Stingray convertible is powered by the next-generation 6.2L Small Block V-8 LT2 engine, the only naturally aspirated V-8 in the segment. It will produce 495 horsepower (369 kW) and 470 lb-ft (637 Nm) of torque when equipped with performance exhaust — the most horsepower and torque for any entry Corvette.

The LT2 is paired with Chevrolet’s first eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which provides lightning-fast shifts and excellent power transfer. This transmission is uniquely designed to provide the best of both worlds: the spirited, directly connected feeling of a manual and the premium driving comfort of an automatic. The double-paddle de-clutch feature even allows the driver to disconnect the clutch by holding both paddles for more manual control.

When combined, the advanced propulsion system, revised chassis tuning and retractable hardtop make the Stingray the most no-compromise Corvette convertible in history.

Chevrolet has a storied history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Chevrolet was founded in 1911, the year of the inaugural 500-mile race. Company co-founder and namesake Louis Chevrolet, along with brothers Arthur and Gaston, competed in early Indy 500s. Arthur competed in the 1911 race and Gaston won in 1920.

Nine drivers with Chevrolet engines have combined to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” 11 times, with Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk, Al Unser Jr., Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power and, most recently, Simon Pagenaud in 2019.

Team Chevy also has won the NTT INDYCAR SERIES manufacturer championship six times since 2012.

Visit IMS.com for more information about this year’s schedule.

The race will be televised live on NBC for the third consecutive year, with the pre-race show starting at 11 a.m. The INDYCAR Radio Network will provide live coverage of the race to its affiliates and on Sirius 211, XM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile App powered by NTT DATA.

About Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the world’s largest spectator sporting facility, has been the worldwide leader in motorsports entertainment since opening in 1909. IMS is hosting the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 30, the world’s most prestigious auto race. The Month of May will start Saturday, May 15 with the GMR Grand Prix for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES on the IMS road course. The Speedway also will host the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NTT INDYCAR SERIES on the same weekend Aug. 13-15 for three exciting races on the road course, including the first Cup Series race on the circuit Sunday, Aug. 15. IMS also will welcome the competitors of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli/GT Challenge World Challenge America and the ground-breaking Indy Autonomous Challenge on separate event weekends in October 2021. IMS, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit ims.com.

About Chevrolet

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, available in 79 countries with more than 3.2 million cars and trucks sold in 2020. Chevrolet models include electric and fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com(opens in a new window).

GMR Grand Prix Schedule and Networks

All Times Eastern

Friday

7:30am 6:00pm- Gates Open

8:00am 8:20am- Indy Pro 2000 Quals

8:35am 9:05am INDY LIGHTS Q1

9:30am 10:15am INDYCAR Series Practice 1 Peacock

10:40am 11:20am USF2000 Race 1

11:45am 12:35pm Indy Pro 2000 Race 1

1:00pm 1:45pm NTT INDYCAR Series Practice 2 Peacock

2:10pm 3:10pm INDY LIGHTS Race 1 Peacock

3:25pm 4:05pm USF2000 Race 2

4:30pm 5:45pm NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qual. / Firestone Fast 6 Peacock (live)

NBCSN– 6 pm ET (Delayed)

Saturday

7:30am 5:00pm Gates Open

7:50am 8:40am Indy Pro 2000 Race 2

8:55am 9:25am Indy Lights Qualifying 2

9:40am 10:20am USF2000 Race 3

10:45am 11:15am NTT INDYCAR SERIES Warm-Up Peacock

11:40am 12:30pm Indy Pro 2000 Race 3

12:45pm 1:45pmINDY LIGHTS Race 2 Peacock

2:39pm ‘Drivers Start Your Engines’ NBC

2:45pm GMR Grand Prix – Green Flag NBC

Where’s the 500 Buzz?

It’s May 10 and I’m still not feeling it. MAY 10th! Perhaps it’s because the track isn’t open yet, or that I haven’t received my race tickets. Maybe it’s the lousy weather Indianapolis is enduring right now. Whatever the cause, the 500 buzz that I usually feel around May 1 isn’t there.

Moving the GMR Grand Prix back a week might not have been such a good idea. The later date has kept things low key as we wait for the track to open halfway through the month. I felt a little bit of excitement when I picked up my Bronze Badge at the track last week. The email from the speedway telling me my tickets had been mailed perked me up some as well, but that high withered when the blue envelope still hadn’t arrived by Saturday.

What will it take to get the buzz going again? Being at the track first thing Friday morning after my traditional Opening Day breakfast at Charlie Brown’s should do the trick. It has been two years since I have been inside the track during May. It was nice seeing some racing at IMS in October, but it wasn’t the same. Friday can’t get here soon enough.

There are some racing friends I haven’t seen since the 2019 500. I am excited to see them again as well. Sadly some are skipping this year, too, but it will be great to see those who do attend. I am normally a patient person except for one month a year. I hope the schedule returns to a more regular path in 2022.

Meanwhile, I will set my alarm for Friday morning, hope my 500 tickets arrive this week, and get my buzz restarted.

The Rocket Lands at IMS Museum

Just 16 hundredths of a second stands between Rick Mears and a fifth Indianapolis 500 victory. The margin by which Gordon Johncock beat Mears to the checkered flag in 1982 is portrayed in a tableau of sorts in the exhibit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum honoring the man known as “The Rocket.” The special exhibit opened May 2 and runs through March 20, 2022.

The four cars in which he won the 500 are also present, along with one of his first race car, an off road dune buggy he built with the help of his brother Roger and father Bill.

From there, Mears went to the Pikes peak Hill Climb in another specially built car. Mears won the 1976 Hill Climb in the Porsche powered car built by Paul Newman and Doug Dreager. The following year Mears attempted to qualify for the 500.

His car was not fast enough to make the race, but a conversation with Roger penske after qualifying led to a career shaping relationship between the two. Mears would drive for Penske the remainder of his time in Indycar.

Rick Mears 1977 car for Indianapolis. Livery shown is not the livery he drove and the car number was 77.

Mears first win came in his second 500 in 1979. he drove a tactical race, which became his style. Mears also won the first of what grow to be a record six poles at Indianapolis. He won from the pole twice more. The race has been won from the pole 21 times, which makes his accomplishment stand out even more.

Rick Mears winning car in 1979, the first of four victories for Mears in the 500.

The 1982 race finish had the cars too far apart. While Bob Jenkins radio call is quoted on the wall, the cars have a lot more separation in the display.

The 1982 finish was much closer than this. Johncock’s car (foreground) leads mears car across the line. The actual finish below.

The exhibit contains just a few memorabilia items from Mears. The best things are two of his helmets.

Mears’s 1979 helmet.

New for this exhibit is the car information presentation. Instead of a placard to read, visitors scan a QR code which displays the information on their phones. By scanning the first one, fans can scroll through to subsequent cars and give themselves a self guided tour of the display. This system allows fans to read information without waiting for the person in front of them to finish reading the placard. Welcome to the future of museums.

“Rocket Rick Mears” is a nice tribute to a driver as we commemorate the 30th anniversary of his last win at Indianapolis.

Museum Touch Ups

The IMS Museum has upgraded the display cases in the winners’ gallery. The case on the north wall is a tribute to the Hulman Family’s 74 years of ownership. It contains a nice timeline of improvements to the facility. The displays on the south wall are tidier and less cluttered, with a display of early racing helmets and other historical items. The walls look much neater and have a cleaner look than I have seen on previous visits.

1968: The Unser Family Legend Begins

In 1967 the turbine engine powered car driven by Parnelli Jones dominated the race, only to drop out while leading with four laps to go. A. J. Foyt went on to win his third Indianapolis 500 in six years. For 1968 the turbine engine cars were back in force,determined to flip the sport to a new breed of power. STP entered three cars, and five other turbine cars also came to try to make the race. It appeared a different kind of power was about to erase 70 years of internal combustion technology.

The front row featured two turbines in the first two spots and Bobby Unser in the third spot. Unser, entering his sixth race, began the 1968 race with a best finish of eighth in 1966, a race which saw only seven cars running at the end. Joe Leonard on the pole and 1966 winner Graham Hill next to him on the grid were expected to run away with the event.

Bobby Unser (L) prevented an all turbine front row.

While the power of the cars appeared poised for a transition, the 1968 race program reflected other transitions. The memorial page acknowledged the death of Ray Harroun, winner of the first 500 in 1911, on January 19. A more recent winner, Jim Clark , who ran away with the 1965 race, lost his life in a Formula 2 accident in Hockenheim, Germany, April 7. The deaths were almost bookends of the race’s history to that point.

STP bought a full page ad touting the turbine, calling it “A Quiet revolution.

A new product which would revolutionize consumer spending was in its infancy in 1968- the credit card. Most were specific to a product, and some were beginning to expand their use, like the Standard Oil card. Notice the 10 digit number.

1968 featured one of the hot air balloon races, honoring the first event held at IMS in 1909. The third day day of qualifying paused for two hours as the balloons launched. There was generally a lot of down time on Day 3 of qualifying, but in 1968 the constant rain put track time at a premium. The balloon races ended a couple years later when the basket of a competitor couldn’t launch in the wind and plowed into an infield restroom.

Back to the race:

Unser passed Leonard for the lead on lap 8. the race turned into a three way battle between Unser, Leonard, and Lloyd Ruby. Leonard took the lead on lap 175 and appeared headed for victory. As the race restarted on lap 191, Leonard’s car suddenly came to a halt in turn 1 with a fuekl shaft problem. Unser went on to claim the first of his three 500 mile race wins. it was also the first of nine wins for the Unser family.

In June USAC limited the air inlet of turbines to 12.5 square inches from the 15.9 they had been allowed. The smaller intake rendered them uncompetitive. Only one turbine entered the race the next year, and then the silent revolution disappeared.

35 Entries for the 500; Notes

The entry list for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 stands at 35 after the announcement of Stefan Wilson to the number 25 car at Andretti Autosport. I think that is where it will stay. Top Gun Racing has no engine lease at the moment, and it is getting late. The entry which Spencer Pigot drove in 2020, would need to get a Chevy engine. I’m not sure that will happen.

Thirty-five entries after a tumultouous year like 2020 is a very healthy number. There will be bumping, and two cars will go home on May 23. Here is the entry list as of this morning:

Chevrolet-17

Team Penske (4)-Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Scott McLaughlin

A. J. Foyt Racing (4)- Sebastien Bourdais, Dalton Kellett, Charlie Kimball, J. R. Hildebrand

Carlin Racing (1)- Max Chilton

Arrow McLaren SP (3)- Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Juan Pablo Montoya

Ed Carpenter Racing (3) – Ed Carpenter, Rinus VeeKay, Conor Daly

Dreyer and Reinbold (1)- Sage Karam

Paretta (1)- Simona De Silvestro

Honda– 18

Andretti Autosport (6)-Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, AStefan Wilson

Chip Ganassi Racing (4)- Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, Tony Kanaan

Dale Coyne Racing (3)- Ed Jones, Pietro Fittipaldi, Cody Ware

Meyer Shank Racing (2)- Jack Harvey, Helio Castroneves

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (3)- Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, Santino Ferrucci

Notes

Amazon Prime has a documentary about Alex Zanardi playing. I thought it was available last night, but it was not. I hope to watch it this weekend.

Several people received emails last night that their tickets for the 500 have been mailed. It was a welcome sight in the Inbox.

Not Indycar related, but Penske and Porsche have entered into a partnership to develop the Porsche LMDh prototype which will begin competition in 2023. The car is eligible to compete at both the Rolex 24 and Le Mans. I doubt this alliance will lead to Indycar’s third OEM.

Coming attractions

Some posts on The Pit Window leading up to May 30 that are in the planning stages:

Daily track reports

Indianapolis 500 program retrospectives- I will take a nostalgic look at 1968, 1975, and 1981 as a tribute to Bobby Unser.

A couple of the always popular 9in my mind) Bump Tales.

My annual post on how to fix Indy 500 qualifying.

A report on the new Rick Mears exhibit at the IMS Museum.

A Great Day for Two Good Guys

It’s only Wednesday and the emotions in the Indycar family have been riding a roller coaster since Sunday. The joy of Pato o’Ward’s victory was tempered with the news of Bobby Unser’s death. But yesterday, two of the nicest guys in the paddock had great days. Robert Wickens drove a car at speed for the first time since his horrific crash at Pocono in 2018. Stefan Wilson confirmed he has a ride for the Indianapolis 500.

Stefan Wilson Returns to 500 with Andretti

Andretti Autosport announced Stefan Wilson as the driver of car 25 in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. Wilson’s entry will be the sixth car in the Andretti stable. The announcement from the team:

STEFAN WILSON RETURNS TO ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT WITH LOHLA SPORT FOR THE 105th RUNNING OF THE INDIANAPOLIS 500

05.04.21

• Wilson and LOHLA SPORT to complete Andretti Autosport’s six-car Indy 500 lineup
• Premier women’s golf lifestyle brand LOHLA SPORT to make their debut in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis 500 for Wilson’s third start at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing

Andretti Autosport announced today that Stefan Wilson and new partner LOHLA SPORT will join the five-time Indianapolis 500 winning team for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 to complete the team’s six-car lineup. Wilson, who ran the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport and competed for the team in Indy Lights, will team up with the new premier women’s golf lifestyle brand to run the No. 25 LOHLA SPORT Honda.



“We’re excited to not only welcome Stefan back to the team, but also to have a new partner in LOHLA SPORT come on board to experience their first Indy 500,” said Michael Andretti, Chairman and CEO, Andretti Autosport. “We have a great history with the Wilson family and we’re hopeful we can build on successes we’ve had in the past this May.”

 
“After leading laps with Andretti Autosport at the Indianapolis 500 in 2018, I’m hungry to return and finish the job. I’ve worked tirelessly to make this return happen and I am so thankful that LOHLA SPORT has believed in me to represent them,” said Wilson. “It’s a dream come true to rejoin Andretti and also partner with Honda once more in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The icing on the cake is we get to do this with a brand new company in LOHLA SPORT, a premium women’s apparel brand already captivating the golf lifestyle scene. Among the fans and partners involved with the Indianapolis 500, we have a huge amount of golf enthusiasts, so I’m excited to get them exposed to what LOHLA SPORT is all about. None of this would have happened without Don and Carolyn Cusick, who are avid racing and golf enthusiasts and also shareholders in LOHLA SPORT. This program also represents the birth of Cusick Motorsports, and I am hopeful the 2021 Indianapolis 500 will be a springboard to many exciting opportunities for the Cusick Motorsports brand in the future. Lastly, I am thankful to have Expedia Group’s VIP Access join the effort, along with Menlo Ventures, VSRS and Liberty Group.”


Debuting in January of 2021, LOHLA SPORT has quickly captivated the golf, country club and resort market. The brainchild of recognized fashionista Lisa O’Hurley, former Golf Channel and GOLFINO executive with more than two decades in the industry, the brand’s impeccable sense of style features colorful, on-trend European designs with Los Angeles flair. Formal collaboration with London-based Paul Rees – renowned creator of countless Burberry, Aquascutum and GOLFINO hits – has LOHLA SPORT in roughly 100 exclusive golf shops coast to coast.

“Taking this cool, market-broadening road to Indy doesn’t happen every day,” said O’Hurley. “LOHLA SPORT is proud to support women who love golf and love all sports as our outfits are fit for the course, court, racetrack and everywhere between.”

Also joining the effort is Cusick Motorsports, created by Don and Carolyn Cusick as a business incubator in racing; VIP Access, Expedia Group’s network of premium, invitation-only properties; VSRS, specializing in forging exclusive relationships in the automotive sector; Menlo Ventures, an investment firm having backed 70+ public companies and Liberty Group, specializing in wealth management, tax planning and estate law.

“As a lifelong INDYCAR fan I have always wanted to attend the Indianapolis 500 live, but never found my way there until now,” said Don Cusick. “Thankfully the stars aligned this year, meeting Stefan Wilson and creating this amazing partnership. From casually asking Stefan if he had any contacts for great seats at Indy and half-jokingly telling him the best seat would have him driving in it. As it turns out I’m getting the second-best seat in the house as the sponsor of the number 25 Andretti Autosport Indy car driven by Stefan. LOHLA SPORT is a company I am invested in, owned by our family friend Lisa O’Hurley. I couldn’t be more excited for the month of May and this opportunity to sponsor Stefan Wilson, one of the truly great people in motorsports.”

The No. 25 LOHLA SPORT Honda and Wilson will make their 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut on with Opening Day on May 18 before the green flag waves for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Sunday, May 30 with broadcast on NBC.

Bobby Unser, 1934-2021; A Hero for Everyman

Photo from my 1968 program, autographed by Unser at a 100th running event at the IMS Museum

I loved Bobby Unser. Yes, I am an unabashed A. J. Foyt fan. After Foyt, Bobby was my man. He was like A. J. in many ways- bold, brash, not caring what people thought, but with a genteel edge and charm. His biography is well documented in the IMS press release I posted earlier. I probably have more photos of Booby Unser’s cars than i have of Foyt’s cars. What follows are some personal thoughts on my second racing hero.

Bobby Unser signing autographs at the IMS Museum, 2016. This where he signed the autograph above.

My first memory of Unser was at Indianapolis 1963. He was a 29 year old rookie driving the famed Novi. I thought a driver had to pay his dues to drive that car, and here was this newcomer in it. I was skeptical. He did well, qualifying 16th. Unfortunately, he slid into the fourth turn wall after just two laps.

The next year, 1964, Unser fared even worse, as he was caught up in the tragic first lap accident involving Eddie Sachs and Dave McDonald. With his car on fire, Unser accelerated to put out the flames, but his day was done.

In 1966 Unser began to hit his stride with his first of four straight top 10 finishes in the 500.

In 1968, he seemed to have the best chance against the powerful turbine Lotuses. I picked him to win the race. Unser started third and looked good early. He faltered a bit when he lost sixth gear. On a late restart, Unser regained the lead when Joe Leonard’s car stopped in the first turn. Booby Unser had conquered the turbines.

Bobby Unser and crew at the 1968 500. This car is one of my all time favorites. The car was designed by Dan Gurney.

Unser would win the 500 two more times, in 1975 and 1981. He is one of two drivers to win the 500 in three different decades.

I also loved his mastery of the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb. He won 13 times in an event his family dominated. It was a race I wish I had been able to attend.

After Unser retired from racing, he did race commentary on television. I loved his folksy manner, and his subtle way of disagreeing with Sam Posey. Bobby did not pull many punches when asked about what was going on.

In he broadcast booth and when he gave talks, Unser just seemed like a regular race fan. He connected with people on a personal level.

In his later years, he gave talks and interviews reflecting on his career. I loved listening to his stories. I’m sure they were embellished some, but they were always unfiltered and never boring.

We now have one less living legend. Many are close to Unser’s age. Only Paul Goldsmith, in his 90s, I believe is older than Bobby was.

My last photo of Bobby, with nephew Al, Jr. Taken at the SVRA event at IMS, June 2018

Today I celebrate the life of one of my heroes. This May I will make an extra effort to talk to A. J., Mario,and any other divers of that era I happen to see, just to say thanks.