Indianapolis -- Representatives from
Chevrolet and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced today that the
all-new 2003 Chevy SSR will serve as the Official Pace Vehicle for the
87th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.
This marks the 14th time a Chevrolet product has served as the official
pace vehicle - the most appearances by any brand since the first use of
a pacemaker in 1911 - and the first time a truck-based Chevrolet will
lead the charge to the green flag.
"We're pleased that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Chevrolet are
continuing this long-time relationship," said Tony George, president and
CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Having the new Chevy SSR
leading the field to the green flag on May 25 will certainly contribute
to a memorable Indianapolis 500."
This year's edition of the Memorial Day classic will find Chevrolet out
to repeat its recent on-track winning performance. The "Bowtie" returned
to open-wheel competition in 2002, capturing 14 of 15 IRL events,
including the Indy 500, and the series championship. In all, Chevy has
won 100 Indy-style races, including seven Indianapolis 500 victories,
and six series titles since 1986.
"Everyone at Chevrolet is proud to be associated with the Indy Racing
Series and the Indy 500," said Brent Dewar, the recently-appointed
general manager of General Motors' largest division. "The SSR is the
latest in a series of SS-branded Chevy cars and trucks that will
rekindle the fun-to-drive heritage of the Super Sport name. In keeping
with our long-term goals, they will be vehicles many people will aspire
to own and also be able to afford."
The Chevy SSR that will serve as the Indy 500 Pace Vehicle is virtually
identical to the 25 unique 'Signature Series' saleable units to be built
before regular retail production and shipment to Chevrolet dealers
begins this summer. The Signature Series vehicles will be used to create
one-of-a-kind "pedigrees" for each vehicle before they are offered for
sale through public or GM dealer auctions during 2003.
"The SSR (standing for 'Super Sport Roadster') is like nothing else in
the market today. It's part roadster, part pickup and is a completely
innovative expression of Chevy's proud heritage," said Eckhoff. A
highlight of SSR's design is a unique one-button power-operated
retractable hardtop that stores vertically and out-of-sight between the
passenger and rear stowage compartments.
The frame and chassis of the SSR are similar in design to Chevy's
mid-size TrailBlazer family of sport utilities. All major exterior
panels are of one-piece stamped steel. Under the hood is a new
aluminum-block version of GM's Vortec 5300 (5.3-liter) small-block V8
that develops 290 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 325 lb-ft of torque at 4000
rpm. That power drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic
transmission. Rounding out SSR's sporty street machine appearance are
19-inch front and 20-inch rear tires and wheels.
Two SSRs have been prepared for pace duties:
The primary pace vehicle emulates the appearance and content of a
Signature Series model. When the checkered flag falls, it will be placed
on display in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
The back-up pace vehicle is VIN #4 of the saleable Signature Series
model run, carrying the signatures of John Middlebrook, GM Vice
President for Vehicle Sales & Marketing, and Mark Reuss, Executive
Director of Operations for GM Engineering & Special Vehicles. After the
race it will continue to be used in various pedigree-building activities
then, like nearly all other Signature Series units, will ultimately be
offered for sale through auction.
A third SSR that emulates the appearance and content of a Signature
Series model will be on display during the month of May for up-close
viewing by visitors to Indy's Hall of Fame Museum. After the May race it
will be a welcome addition to GM's historic collection in Detroit.
Few modifications were made to the three vehicles to prepare them for
pacing the 33-car field on the 2.5-mile oval. Exteriors receive a subtle
silver ghost-flame paint scheme across the hood, front fenders and
doors, a safety strobe light bar recessed into the tailgate, polished
stock cast aluminum wheels and race event graphics. Inside, racing-type
safety belts have been added. Inclusion of heavy-duty engine and
transmission oil coolers, higher rate springs and shocks, and a lower
restriction exhaust system provide further assurance of optimum
performance in the harsh environment of professional racing.