Jeff Gordon to pilot the Corvette Z06 Indy 500 pace car. Can the racers keep up?

Jeff Gordon Indy 500 pace car
When I drove the new Corvette Z06 for our inaugural Car of the Year Awards, pace car was not the first thing that came to mind. It was only a letter off, though.

The 650-horsepower beast really is a racecar for the road. It has the power, grip, and incredible handling to mop up lesser machines around almost any arena, assuming you have a driver brave enough to give it the beans.

For the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, Chevrolet found just the guy for the job. Four-time Nascar Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon will drive the Z06 pace car this year, marking the 13th time a Corvette has been recruited for safety duty.

“Indy is hallowed ground for racers like me and I couldn’t be more thrilled to drive the Corvette Z06 pace car around the track that helped drive my success over the years,” said Gordon. ”The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most celebrated races of the year and an event I always dreamed of racing while growing up in California and in nearby Pittsboro. I’ve won five NASCAR races at IMS and the track will always be a special place for me, so to be able to participate in such a historic day will be something I remember for the rest of my life.”

Jeff Gordon Indy 500 pace car

As a refresher, the Z06 is powered by a supercharged, 6.2-liter LT4 V8 that makes an astounding 650 hp and 650 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which comes on at just 3,600 rpm. With the eight-speed automatic, 0 to 60 mph is dealt with in 2.95 seconds, and the quarter mile is dusted in just 10.95 seconds.

It’s not just about straight-line performance though; the Z06 really is one of the best handling cars in the world right now. It can pull an organ-rearranging 1.2g of lateral acceleration when pushed, and the car stays as flat as Florida through the bends.

There’s also a nifty Performance Data Recorder on board, which can display and record acceleration times, braking force, engine speed, and other vehicle info over 720p video.

The Indianapolis 500 race kicks off May 24th.

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