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2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 Joins Indy 500; SRT Pulls Out from Le Mans

March 27, 2014
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One high-performance car will be a part of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race while another will no longer be competing at 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Fans of the Indy 500 will get to see the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 driving around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25, though not as a race car. This Chevy will make an appearance on the track as a pace car, to be piloted by Dario Franchitti.

Franchitti will be joining the elite club of individuals who have driven the pace car at the Indy 500. This club has Jay Leno, Morgan Freeman, Colin Powell, Lance Armstrong and Donald Trump as members.

This year’s pace car driver is no stranger to the race. He won the Indy 500 three times: in 2007, 2010 and 2012. He also bagged four IndyCar championships. After a crash in 2013 wherein he suffered multiple injuries, he eventually retired. He is currently involved in driver development for IndyCar team Chip Ganassi Racing.

Franchitti is the 14th former Indy 500 winner to be given pace car driver duties. He follows the footsteps of Wilbur Shaw, Sam Hanks and Jim Rathmann, among others.

He will be driving an all-black 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, which will be adorned with Indy 500 decals. The car is a good choice, considering it has gotten rave reviews for power and handling. This Camaro, which has a 7.0-liter V-8 engine, clocked in a remarkable lap time of 7 minutes and 37.4 seconds at Nürburgring in Germany.

This marks the eighth time a Camaro was chosen as the pace car for the famed racing event and the 25th time a Chevy got the designation. Last year, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray had the honor of assuming the race’s pace car duty. It was driven by former Indianapolis Colts quarterback and Panther Racing co-owner Jim Harbaugh. 2013 marked the Corvette’s 12th selection since the pace car tradition began.

While racing fans would be seeing the Camaro Z/28 in the Indy 500, they would be missing the SRT Viper at Le Mans.

SRT recently announced that it decided to pull out the sports car from the event. “We regretfully and respectfully decline to participate in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Ralph Gilles, SRT President and CEO, said in a statement. “We will remain focused on our North American racing program in 2014.”

This decision may come as a surprise for many, since SRT only recently re-entered Le Mans. It was only last year when SRT accepted the invitation to participate in the endurance race. Two 2013 Viper GTS-Rs entered the competition.

After enjoying success at Daytona and Sebring, both race cars are expected to participate at the IMSA TUDOR United Sports Car Championship events.

The move to pull out the Vipers from Le Mans comes after SRT’s announcement that it is suspending the production of the vehicle for two months. Starting April 14, the SRT Viper plant in Conner Avenue, Michigan will be temporarily closed. Lackluster sales is the reason behind the production suspension—SRT only sold 91 units of the Viper through January and February.

Photo credit: motorauthority.com

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