The Indianapolis 500 is a staple of racing and one of the most popular events in the United States each Memorial Day holiday weekend. Although the race did move to August in 2020 due to COVID-related setbacks, last year saw a return to normalcy, and this year, the race kicks off again on its annual Sunday, May 29 date – which is this upcoming weekend.
So in anticipation, we're looking at pace cars – particularly the Corvette. Because when it comes to Indy pace cars, no car is more prolific than the Chevrolet Corvette. The iconic sports car has paced the race a record 19 times – more than any other vehicle – and will do so again this year with the newest Z06 model.
So we've rounded up every Corvette that's ever lapped Indy and listed it here. And by doing so, it provides an interesting perspective on how the iconic sports car and the race have evolved throughout their shared history.
1978 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe (C3)
The Chevy Corvette entered production in 1953, quickly earning gaining a reputation as one of America's premier sports cars throughout the '50s and '60s. However, it took until 1978 for the 'Vette to get a spot as the Indy 500 pace car. The first Corvette pace vehicle featured a two-tone black and silver body and a fastback rear end with wraparound glass, which was new for the 'Vette at the time.
1986 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible (C4)
It took until 1986 for the Corvette to return as the Indy 500 pace car. The year also marked the return of the convertible body style for the first time since 1975, so Chevy made sure to put the droptop at the front of the field.
1995 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible (C4)
Nearly 10 years later, the 1995 Corvette returned as the pace car for the Indy 500. This particular pace car had a very 1990s paint job with a purple upper portion of the body, a white lower area, and swirling stripes running over the sides.
1998 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible (C4)
In 1998, the Corvette began showing up to Indy with a bit more regularity. And this particular car was hard to ignore. Bright yellow wheels, matching stripes, and an eggplant-colored body aren't an attractive combination, per se, but the convertible Corvette’s glaring array of hues certainly would draw some eyes.
2002 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe (C5)
After a few years away from the race, a Corvette returned to the field in 2002. The car in question was a subtler burgundy 50th Anniversary Edition coupe. This was a much more stylish pace car than some of the previous purple Corvettes.
2004 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible (C5)
In 2004, the Corvette kicked off a five-year consecutive streak of pacing the Indy 500. This particular droptop featured an American flag motif along the side of the body, and actor Morgan Freeman was the honorary driver for the opening lap.
2005 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible (C6)
Another Corvette convertible was at the front of the pack in 2005 – just one year later. This particular car was a red and silver droptop with General Colin Powell taking the first lap of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe (C6)
Surprise, surprise – once again there was a Corvette pace car in 2006. In a patriotic touch, the body of this particular car featured a white paint job with red and blue stripes, in addition to white stars on the rear fenders. In a move organizers might regret today, Lance Armstrong drove the pace car that year after his seventh consecutive Tour de France victory, which would later be voided.
2007 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible (C6)
The streak of Corvette pace cars continued in 2007 with this attractive convertible. The car had an eye-catching, copper-colored body with yellow stripes emerging from the vents behind the front wheels. Actor and successful race car driver Patrick Dempsey was in the driver's seat for the opening lap.
2008 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 E85 Coupe (C6)
Chevy brought a colorful Corvette Z06 to the Indy 500 in 2008. This one was in an interesting shade of green and ran on E85 ethanol in an effort to be a bit more Earth-friendly. Or at least, as low emissions as a coupe with a 7.0-liter V8 can be. Two-time Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi drove the green 'Vette on the opening lap.
2012 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Coupe (C6)
After three years away from the front of the Indy 500, a Corvette ZR1 returned to lead the race in 2012. And behind the wheel, of course, was celebrity chef Guy Fieri for the opening lap.
2013 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (C7)
After taking a year off, the Corvette returned in 2013 with the 2014 Stingray leading the pack just in time for the seventh-generation model's debut. It had a gorgeous blue body with the addition of a few decals specifically for the event.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe (C7)
The Corvette skipped a year and returned to the Indy 500 in 2015. NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon drove the 'Vette for the first lap, and the car had a fairly simple body with the race decals on the doors and sponsor stickers at the front end.
2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Coupe (C7)
For 2017, a Corvette Grand Sport with the optional carbon-fiber aero package managed pace car duties. It featured a patriotic livery with a white body and a blue stripe running up the center of the coupe, in addition to red accents for the sides and fenders.
2018 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Coupe (C7)
In 2018, a new ZR1 lead the pack with former Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo in the driver’s seat. With 755 horsepower (563 kilowatts) courtesy of a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, this 'Vette is still the most powerful car to ever pace the Indy 500.
2019 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Coupe (C7)
For the 2019 Indy 500, a C7 Corvette Grand Sport had the honor of leading the race. The vehicle wore a Long Beach Red Metallic body, carbon fiber ground effects kit, and special decals.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Coupe (C8)
The new generation of the C8 Corvette took over pace car duties for the 2020 Indy 500. Specifically, the car in question was a Torch Red example with Carbon Flash trim and special graphics for the race. It had the Z51 performance package equipped with the high wing option. And in the driver’s seat was none other than GM President Mark Reuss.
2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible (C8)
In 2021, a C8 Corvette convertible led the field with a bright white paint job, yellow and black accents, and the full Z51 performance package equipped. That includes the extra-high wing option in the rear. Behind the wheel of that Corvette was pro racer Danica Patrick.
2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe (C8)
For this year, 2022, the Corvette returns to Indy yet again with the 670-horsepower Z06 leading the field. With special Indy body graphics, red and black accents, and custom wheels, former IndyCar racer Sarah Fisher will get behind the wheel of the Z06 for this year’s race, which takes place Sunday, May 29.