The year was 1948, and the car chosen
to pace the 42nd Annual Indianapolis 500 mile race was the Chevrolet Fleetmaster
convertible, beginning a long line of Chevrolet cars at Indy. They returned
in 1955 when a Bel Air convertible did the job. 12 years
later the brand new Chevrolet Camaro was chosen as the pace car, and it returned 2 years
later with Jim Rathmann at the wheel for the 53rd running of the
According to GM records there were a total of 3 Pace
Cars and 130 Pace Car Replicas built for the 1969 Indy 500.
Festival Committe Cars
- 43 Pace Car Replicas,
all 350 automatics. These cars were used to ride Festival Queens and other dignitaries
around the track and nobody wanted a Queen to get tossed out of
the car because someone without much manual transmission skill popped the
- 2 Engineering prepared Pace Cars for the
actual pacing duty
- 1 Pace Car with air conditioning and power
top, with show quality finish to be presented to the winner of the 500 Mile
Race. They specified the AC and power top because A.J. Foyt
had turned down his car in '67 because it didn't have these options
- 7 Pace car Replicas
- 5 Pace Car Replicas for USAC officials
- 75 Pace Car Replicas for VIP's and the
used by the Festival Commitee also had this decal. They
were gold and black with a clear center open section that showed the
color of the car. This decal was used in both 1967 and 1969. The
Festival cars were all 350 automatics and were used in the parades and
to carry the Queen and Queen candidates around the track on Saturday.
At the Queen Coronation Banquet the queen received the keys to car #33 (or
#34, depending on the source) as part of her winnings, including
a matched set of luggage.
In addition, Chevrolet created Regular Production
Option Z11 which allowed customers to order their own Pace
Car replicas. Unlike 1967, when they built 100 extra cars with
different option combinations and shipped them to various dealers,
you could now order your Pace Car exactly the way you wanted it. Chevrolet
announced the availabilty to their dealers through Product Change
Bulletin No. 13, dated February 4, 1969.
There were 3,675 produced in 1969. Although '69 Z11's are fairly easy to find, almost
all are 350 small blocks, with only 34 or fewer 396 big blocks ordered. If
you do find a big block Pace Car the odds are good that it's one that went
around the track!
Special promotional models. The one with the trailer is extremely rare.
coupe was a limited production Southwestern Regional promotional car
offered to a small number of dealerships in the Southwestern Branch Zone Office during the
Indy season. They were available in Texas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma,
Arizona, and possibly other states. The exact number built is not known, but
it is believed to be between 200 and 300 at Norwood.
They appear to have been built between 04C and 05A.
Curiously, a lot of Z10's built in the fifth week of April show 04L on the
cowl tag instead of 04E. There is at least one Z11 with the same code.
There could be several reasons for this but the most likely explanation is that the
stamping machine was broken for a week and wouldn't stamp a
"D". Some 1970 Z/28s have a similar discrepancy, showing
.28 instead of Z28, probably because the die was broken that week.
The Z10 and the Z11.
actual Pace Cars were both specially prepared by Chevrolet's
Engineering Division before the race. They were factory blueprinted 396-375HP L89 aluminum
head engines, although the heads were replaced with
cast iron heads for reliability. This means that the cars were actually
detuned to the 325HP version. The engines were disassembled,
visually inspected, Zygloed or magnafluxed, and reassembled. The Turbo 400 transmissions
got similar treatment. The
cars received a 3.31 rear end and a special COPO torque converter. All
the F41 suspension pieces were magnafluxed, shotpeened, and heat
treated. The drive shaft was balanced, and a heavy-duty battery (RPO T60)
and alternator (RPO K85). A heavy-duty air conditioning radiator (RPO V01) and
temperature controlled fan clutch was used, although the cars did not have air
Other modifications included grab handles above the
rear seat arm rests and in place of the passenger sun visor, and flag pole
brackets mounted at the rear bumper. To accomodate the
brackets the exhaust system used 1968 exhaust tips instead of '69 tips. The
convertible top boot received special fasteners to make sure it stayed in
place at 130 mph. The cars also received factory hood locks and a two-way
radio. Four wheel disc brakes (RPO JL8) were installed after the
cars were delivered to the Indianapolis Chevrolet plant.
Luckily, both these cars survived. Car #1 is owned
by Gary Nicol, and car #2 is owned by Mark Levi. The third car with the show
finish was presented to Mario Andretti after his victory.
Mario gave the car to his brother Aldo who drove it until 1975. The car then disappeared, but
it is rumored to be in New Zealand.
to the US Camaro Club, Classic Industries' tech specialist Bob Brennen had
a conversation a long time ago with a customer who wanted
to replace a console lid on a '69 Pace Car that
was being shipped to New Zealand. It seems the old
console lid had a big ugly metal plaque with Mario Andretti's name on
it and something about Chevrolet Motor Division giving it to him. Bob
says he saw the plaque and it looked legit, but
he didn't see the car or get the VIN. The original plaque looked
the Pace Car replicas were built in Norwood and carried the Z11 identification
on the cowl tag. The ones built at Los Angeles did not use the Z or X codes.
There is a lot we still don't know about Los Angeles tags, but the
documented LA cars have a P251 code.
Here are the relevant details to look for on your
Pace Car. If you do not know how to decode your cowl tag you
may want to visit the Parts section before proceeding.
1969 Pace Cars are easier to verify than '67s, even
though the cowl tag doesn't provide nearly the amount of information
that the '67s do. The reason is because of the Z codes. If
the tag says Z11 or Z10, it's a Pace Car. Los Angeles cars didn't use the Z codes,
but the only '69 Camaros built in Los Angeles with the 720 Code
Orange houndstooth interior, 50 Code Dover White paint,
and White Convertible top were Pace Car Replicas.
At a minimum, all '69 Pace Car Replicas should have
- Body Style 12467 or 12437
- Z11 or Z10 Code (Norwood Cars)
- Dover White Paint Code (50)
- White Convertible Top Code (A)
- Interior Trim Orange houndstooth (720)
- A build date between 02D and 05A
- SS Equipment
- RS Equipment
- Style Trim Group
- Handpainted Hugger Orange RS stripes over
the wheel openings
- Hugger Orange stripes (Z/28 Style)
- Special Ducted Hood
- Rocker panels painted white instead of black
- The rear panel remained white on 396 cars
instead of black
Not all Pace Car Replicas had the door decals
installed. They were part of the package,
but were shipped to the dealer in the
trunk, and only installed at the customers request. The
absence of the Pace Car lettering does not mean it isn't an authentic
car. Of course, the engine should be correct and the numbers
should match the car. As with the '67 Pace Cars, there
could be thousands of individual option combinations other
than the major ones listed. Figures from the United States Camaro
Club Registry show some of the following:
- Power Windows: 1
- Power Top: 10
- Air Conditioning: 2
- L48 350-300HP: 15
- L35 396-325HP: 2
- L34 396-350HP: 1
- L78 396:375HP: 1
- L89 396-375HP: 2 These
two cars were the actual Pace Cars, and both had cast iron heads installed on the L89
engines at the factory.
- Turbo 400: 14
- Turbo 350: 3
- M20 Transmission: 7
- M21 Transmission: 2
- M22 Transmission: 0
- Tilt Wheel: 6
- Factory Guages: 14
- Endura Bumper: 5
- Four Wheel Disc Brakes: 2 These were the
actual Pace Cars.
time this data was current, the USCC Registry had only 132 Pace Cars
registered out of over 6000 built, so this is by no means a complete list but it does show
a representative sampling of the options. If you own or discover one of
these classic Pace Cars please register it with the U.S.
Camaro Club. You can get more information about the USCC and
similar clubs on the Links Page.