Corvette Z06 To Pace Daytona 500 With Jay Leno At The Wheel

Chevrolet Corvette Z06

 

A specially equipped 2006 Corvette Z06 will serve as the official pace car of the 48th Daytona 500 race on February 19 in Florida. ‘Tonight Show’ host and car enthusiast Jay Leno will drive the pace car. The Corvette Z06 Daytona 500 pace car is mechanically identical to the production version, which will debut in Europe at the end of this month.

Selection of the Z06 model marks the second consecutive year that a Corvette has been chosen as the Daytona 500 pace car. “The Corvette Z06 is already a performance legend and the fans will enjoy seeing it lead their favourite drivers around Daytona’s famous tri-oval,” said Robin Braig, president of Daytona International Speedway. “It promises to be a great race, and kicking it off with a Corvette at the head of the pack is the best way to start.”

The Corvette Z06 Daytona 500 wears a unique paint scheme, inspired by the hot-to-cool colour transition of a space capsule entering Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. The paint scheme shows an elaborate, interlocking scallop design - a twist on hot rod-style flames - that blends ‘hot’ Lemon Drop yellow at the nose of the Corvette with Lemon Glow, Amber Ecstasy, Blazing Copper and Hot Poppy. The colours culminate in a cool Sapphire Trance blue at the rear of the vehicle.

Leno behind the wheel

Jay Leno, host of the ‘Tonight Show’ and an unabashed car enthusiast, will drive the Corvette Z06 during opening ceremonies and the pace laps that start the race. Leno, who has a large collection of vintage cars and motorcycles, has previous experience as a pace car driver.

The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s premier race and traditionally kicks-off the Nextel Cup racing season. It is one of the largest events in the motor sport calender, drawing more than 168,000 fans to the track and attracting nearly 11 million American television viewers. It is also broadcast around the world.

As well as supplying the pace car, Corvette will contest the race, returning to the Daytona 500 with 18 victories - the most of any manufacturer - including last year’s champion Jeff Gordon. Corvette also returns as the defending manufacturer’s cup champion, an award it has won 29 times.

With 512 horsepower (377 kW) and 637 Nm of torque from its 7.0-litre all-aluminium, racing-inspired V8 engine, the Corvette Z06 leaps from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 199 mph. It also differs from other production Corvette models with extensive use of lightweight materials, including carbon-fibre front wings and a chassis comprising aluminium and magnesium. A race-ready suspension and large, 18-inch front wheels and 19-inch rear wheels help keep it glued to the tarmac, so it requires no drive train modifications to satisfy its role in front of the racing pack. In its official capacity, however, the pace car is fitted with a variety of safety equipment and highly visible strobe lights.

14 January 2006 Staff

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