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IRL: Oldmobile to set the pace at 2000 Indy 500 with new Aurora

4 November 1999

Posted By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
LAS VEGAS,- Oldsmobile will return to Indianapolis to pace the 2000 Indianapolis 500 with the 2001 Aurora, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Oldsmobile officials announced today at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.

The 2000 race marks the 10th time an Oldsmobile product has paced the Indianapolis 500, the largest single-day sporting event in the world.

"We are delighted that the Oldsmobile Aurora will pace the 84th Indianapolis 500 in the landmark year of 2000," said Tony George, president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "This is yet another milestone in the long relationship between Oldsmobile and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we appreciate Oldsmobiles continued support of Indy Racing. The performance of the Aurora engine on the track has been impressive, to say the least."

Oldsmobile supplies engines to the majority of Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams. The 4.0-liter Aurora V8 has won three consecutive Indianapolis 500s and every Pep Boys Indy Racing League race since the engine was introduced in January 1997.

The 2001 Aurora pace car is powered by a 250-horsepower, 4.0-liter V8 and will not require engine modifications to handle the task. The car is of stock production, with only Pep Boys Indy Racing League-required safety modifications such as strobe lights, safety harnesses for passengers and a roll bar.

The Pace Car features a unique graphics motif featuring checkered flags, designed to get the attention of the hundreds of thousands of fans attending the Indianapolis 500 and a huge worldwide television audience that will tune in to watch the action at the historic 2.5-mile oval.

A Pace Car driver for the 2000 race will be announced at a later date. Oldsmobile first paced the Indianapolis 500 in 1949 with a red 49 Oldsmobile 88 driven by the late Wilbur Shaw, the Speedways president at the time and a three-time Indy 500 winner. Notable Oldsmobile Indy 500 pace cars include the 1970 Oldsmobile 442, the 1972 Hurst/Olds Cutlass and the 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, driven by General Chuck Yeager.

The most recent Oldsmobile to pace the field at Indy was the 1997 Aurora, driven by three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford. The 4.0-liter Aurora V8 engine that powered Arie Luyendyk to his second Indianapolis 500 victory that year was based on the production engine in the Pace Car.

Oldsmobile, along with fellow Indy Racing engine supplier Nissan, will introduce a new 3.5-liter V8 engine to Indy Racing competition in 2000, starting with the season-opening Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in January. The methanol-burning engine is expected to produce 650 horsepower and rev to 11,000 rpm.

Editors Note: To view hundreds of hot racing photos and art, visit The Racing Photo Museum and the Visions of Speed Art Gallery.