Since the 1911 Indianapolis 500, pace cars have proved to be a vital component to major auto races around the world. Race track pace cars, also referred to as “safety cars”, are not just there for looks or to add a bit of theater to the start of a race, but rather carry an important safety role throughout the duration of the race. At the beginning of a race the safety pace car is tasked with helping the drivers sufficiently warm up their race car’s tires before accelerating to higher speeds. In the event of a caution period during a race, such as due to an accident or an obstruction on the track, then the pace car is quickly employed to guide the race cars at reduced speeds and maintain safe environment for everyone on the track. No matter the race format, the pace car is not to be passed. The pace car guides the leading race car as the subsequent cars follow and with no driver allowed to pass another while following the safety pace car.
Many times pace cars are customized beefed-up versions of production cars, although sometimes the engines are left untouched such as with some Corvette and Mustang pace cars. Today racing events are increasingly featuring more environmentally friendly vehicles, such as an electric Ford Focus and even a Honda Civic powered by natural gas. Some official pace cars are made into limited production collector cars available to the public (not including the emergency lighting), such as with the 1998 Chevrolet Convertible Indy 500 Pace Car Edition. Racing pace cars have even served as a publicity stunt. For example the Tumbler Batmobile was an honorary single lap pace vehicle prior to the real pace car entering the Nascar track. If you enjoyed this 50 cool pace cars article then make sure to share with your friends, post a comment and say what you think or vote in the car poll below.