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CLIC4VIDEO Of Jay Leno "Driving" Collector Edition Firebird Trans Am

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., - Pontiac announced today that celebrity comedian, auto enthusiast and "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno will serve as the official pace car driver for the 2002 Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. Leno will drive the pace car version of the highly sought after 2002 Collector Edition Firebird Trans Am as part of Pontiac's ongoing celebration of the American muscle car icon during its last year of production.

"2002 is a special year for performance enthusiasts as Pontiac celebrates the Firebird and Trans Am with a special Collector Edition model," said Lynn C. Myers, Pontiac-GMC general manager. "Having Jay Leno behind the wheel at this year's Daytona 500 adds yet another element of excitement to this car's rich heritage."

According to Myers, the appearance of a Trans Am at 'the great American race' is not unusual. In fact, this year's Daytona 500 will be the 15th that has used a Trans Am as its pace car and the 30th race in a row paced by a Pontiac.

Leno Gets Help From "Teacher" Who's Been Around The Track

A true racing and automotive enthusiast and avid car collector, Leno has participated as a pace driver or guest in many NASCAR events but has never driven at Daytona International Speedway. To help him prepare, Pontiac asked its own NASCAR Winston Cup Grand Prix driver Tony Stewart to take Leno through the curves.

"There's definitely a unique thrill that only American muscle cars can deliver and Firebird is one of those classic cars that's forever etched into American culture," said Leno. "Driving in this car at a track as legendary as Daytona with Tony Stewart is an experience that I'm very much looking forward to."

The Number 2 points scoring driver in the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, Stewart also drove a Trans Am in '01 as part of the International Race of Champions (IROC) race series.

"It's really nice to see a Trans Am pace this race. I've raced Trans Am bodies in the IROC series for a long time and I really appreciate the significance it has as a great American muscle car," said Stewart. "And while it's sad to see them go after 2002, it's great to see Pontiac celebrate Firebird history."

Pace Car Will Excite On And Off The Track

According to Firebird Brand Manager Bob Kraut, the 2002 Trans Am Collector Edition's Ram Air WS6 performance and handling package is so good that the pace car needed only two changes to make it race ready: special Daytona 500 decals and a light bar.

"When race fans see this car on the track at the Daytona 500 it will be one of the few times they can actually go to their dealership and get the same car that paced the race -the car is just that good," said Kraut. "And with the Collector Edition's LS1 V8 churning out 325 horsepower at 350 lb-ft. of torque, it's bound to be just as much fun on the street as it is leading the pack at Daytona International Speedway."

Coupe or Convertible, Exterior Graphics Package Screams Performance

Outfitted in its exclusive Pontiac "Collector Yellow" paint scheme, the Collector Edition features a special "screaming chicken" graphic package that puts a contemporary spin on the eye-catching hood designs of the '70s and '80s Firebird and Trans Am models. Two gold-tone designs adorn the hood of the vehicle and continue on to wrap themselves around the car's doors and rear quarter panels. The rear fascia also gets special attention with a two-tone Collector Yellow and black treatment while both Collector Edition and Trans Am nameplates accent the lower doors.

The Collector Edition will be offered in Trans Am Coupe with hatch tops and a black roof halo or Convertible with a black top.

Staying true to the tradition of the WS6 performance and handling package's exterior appointments, the Collector Edition includes black painted WS6 wheels with a machined face surface, black anodized front and rear brake calipers and black painted axles. Goodyear Eagle F1 performance tires are standard.

Interior Details Celebrate Legendary Lineup

Inside the 2002 Collector Edition, owners will find exclusive interior trim appointments that highlight the now famous design cues of Firebird and Trans Am through the years. Seats are wrapped in ebony leather with headrests featuring embroidered Collector Edition logos. Also sporting the Collector Edition logo are front floor mats and a trophy/shelf mat. A special issue Collector Edition owner's portfolio provides the finishing touch to the vehicle's interior.

Ram Air WS6 Performance and Handling Package - Need We Say More?

The Ram Air WS6 performance and handling package is standard on the Collector Edition. Highlighting the features is the LS1 5.7L V8, which produces 325 horsepower at 350 lb-ft. of torque (with WS6 package refinements).

The 5.7L LS1 introduced leading-edge technologies to the grand tradition of the GM small-block V8, including all-aluminum construction and a thermoplastic intake manifold. Measured by mass, package size, performance or cost to the customer, the 5.7L LS1 matches the world's best overhead cam V8s. With this new small block, those who claimed cam-in-block engines could not meet the demands of a new decade - or increasingly stringent emissions standards - were proven patently wrong.

Available transmissions for the LS1 include a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

Pontiac's exclusive WS6 Ram Air performance and handling package features functional air scoops, ram-air induction, low restriction dual outlet exhaust, and a suspension specifically tuned for maximum handling performance.

Standard and Optional Equipment

Standard equipment on the Collector Edition includes:

Power antenna Power windows Power door locks Remote keyless entry Theft-deterrent alarm system Driver 6-way power seat Monsoon Series AM/FM radio with CD player Hatch roof (T-Tops) on coupe model Optional equipment on the Collector Edition includes: Traction control Trunk-mounted 12-CD changer Hurst "Short-Throw" shifter (six-speed manual transmission only)