Monday, May 27, 2019

INDY 500: Recollecting A Different Sort of Anniversary

1994 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra Indy 500 Pace Car. (Image source:
As have Y'all seen a Ford Pacing the field at Thee Brickyard lately?

Yesiree Bob',
since Bob's your Uncle after all, Righto Mates? Uhm, perhaps You've heard 'bout some Cool Cat fondly known in Nofendersville simply as superMario', nee Mario Andretti having just celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his lone Indianapolis 500 win, Eh?

Or the fact that El Capitano', nee Roger Penske was celebrating the 50th Anniversary of contesting his Debutante Indy 500? Whilst ironically, it was the 45th Anniversary of the Works McLaren IndyCar team's maiden win with Lonestar JR', aka Johnny Rutherford, which seems somewhat symbiotic with this year's McLaren Racing's failure to qualify for the race.

But instead, how many of Y'all recall that it's Thee 25th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang SVT Cobra being the official Indianapolis 500 Pace Car, with none other than 'Ol Rufus Parnelli Jones at the wheel. Which sadly, is the very last time a FoMoCo' product paced the Indy 500.

Whilst I've just realized when poondin' away on this story, it's also the 25th Anniversary of Mario's Arrivederci' IndyCar Retirement Tour...

Recent Indy 500 Pace Cars
(16) Chevrolet Corvette: 1978, 1986, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004-08, 2012-13, 2015 and 2017-2019.
(9) Chevrolet Camaro: 1967, 1969, 1982, 1993, 2009-2011, 2014 and 2016.
(3) Ford Mustang: 1964, 1979 & 1994.
(2) Dodge Viper: 1991, RT/10 roadster; 1996, GTS Coupe.
(2) Pontiac Trans Am: 1980 & 1989.

Looking back twenty years ago, CRIKEYS! Some Fathead'; Err Funnyman named Jay Leno drove the front-wheel drive Chevy Monte Carlo Pace Car, which seems like an eternity ago.

While Shame on the Speedway! For not letting a woman pace their sacred race until the 21st century, when Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp did so in what ranks as my Numero Uno Ugliest Pace Car!

And probably the second strangest Pace Car I can conjure up on thou 'Ol Radar has to be the second and final Pace Vehicle, which a few years ago now came percolating back to mind when on Walkabout'

As it's sad to learn that General Motors has had a Stranglehold upon Mother Speedway for the past 22yrs consecutively now, beginning with Thar Oldsmobile Aurora pacing the 81st running of the Indianapolis 500 in 1997, with then Celebrity Pace Car Driver Johnny Rutherford at the Helm.

Whilst 'Ol Johnny Mellonheadz' ex-wife Elaine Irwin drove the last non Chevrolet branded vehicle at the Speedway in '01, which always Cornfuzes Mwah since it was actually a 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada. As the Auto manufacturers enjoy promoting new products this way...

Having just learned that Roger Penske was behind the wheel of a 2017 50th Anniversary Camaro SS during the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016, when scourin' Zed Internetz' for what I thought would have been a 2016 Camaro...

Yet this story is supposed to be about Ford Motor Company's third and final Indy 500 Pace Car pacing the field at Mother Speedway a Quarter of A Century ago, arguably the prettiest of the three Mustang Pace Cars, and definitely my favourite!

Which makes it even sweeter that I got to ride in one of the 1,000 "Ruby Red" Mustang SVT Cobra Pace Car Replica's Wayback in the mid-to-late 1990's around my true Hometrack, nee Pacific Raceways, which began as Seattle International Raceway for Mwah.

As this came about during one of my frequent outings to the SOVREN Historics races, which are forever known as Hystericals' Thanxs to Cammee'. Which I've already scribbled somewhat in detail 'bout the '94 Mustang Pace Car in the following No Fenders tome.

As it would be nice to visit Tacoma, Warshingtons' America's Car Museum again...

While how many remember that it was Benson Ford at the controls of the very first Mustang Pace Car in 1964, which arguably was a 1964-1/2 production model modified for track duty.

Although I certainly didn't know the name of Benton Ford above, nor can I seem to find out which Ford he was?

Or that Thee Wee Scot', JYS, Sir Jackie, nee Jackie Stewart was the celebrity driver behind the keyboard of the 1979 Mustang Pace Car, with those running Horse Deckles' on its Flanks. Being the only T-Top roof Pace Car model, with the other two Stangs' being Convertibles.

And the timing of Ford's Mustang being chosen for Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Honours couldn't have come at a better time, possibly the zenith of my Breathing all things Blue Oval, since not only was the Ford Cosworth XB Kicking Tail in CART! But I can still recall the nicely done Mustang Corral inside Portland International Raceway's Paddock (that year) that I spent liberal time Droolin' over during thoust yearly Trek to PIR for IndyCar races.

along with having picked up several posters featuring said Mustang Pace Car on the speedway's tarmac, with the old scoring pylon in the background? As I had one pinned-up at my Desk at work for a few years, and now believe it's somewheres' in my myriad 'O poster tubes...

Dorsey Schroeder Tom Gloy Trans Am Mustang "Hero Card" from Portland International raceway during the 1990's. (The Tomaso Collection)
Along with making me Flashback to the fact that I've also got two identical 30th Anniversary Ford Mustang Racing posters tucked away also. Since I can still recall Dorsey Schroeder glaring at me when having to autograph both posters, which also have Boris Said and John Gooding's John Hancock's upon them. As this trio 'O Drivers were Driving for Tom Gloy Racing, an 'Ol Racing Driver himself who actually competed in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) era.

As I'd hoped to get the other Mustang TA Driver's autographs on said poster, albeit the six Drivers were split into two different time sessions, but I'd hoped at the very least to garner Thee Original TK's? As think Tommy Kendall came to prominence before TK' Follow-your-Schnoz!
Kanaan, well at least for Mwah. As Kendall was then Kicking Everybody's ARSE in the SCCA Pro Racing Trans Am series in his ultra Nasty Roush Racing All Sport Body Quencher Mustang!

While Ford was busy celebrating the Mustang's 30th Anniversary, appropriately by introducing the "Gen-x"; Uhm, the Fourth generation Mustang, i.e.; 1994-2004, known internally as the SN-95 platform. As these 4X Stangs' were ultimately powered by Ford's first modular engine, the 4.6-litre V-8. As it's hard to believe that Ford just celebrated the Mustang's 55th Birthday!

Since I Don't know 'bout Y'all, but C'mon IMS! Let somebody else have a turn. As I for one am ultra tired of the yearly Chevy Corvette-Camaro Tag-Team Pace Cars! since the last non GM vehicle to Pace the Indianapolis 500 was the '96 Dodge Viper GTS Coupe; YIKES!

As wouldn't it be Cool seeing one of Dodge's Narly Challenger or Charger SRT Hellcats leading the way round Mother Speedway? Or one of Ford's latest Mustang's. Perhaps the Bullitt' or any of the other stellar limited edition models, or Hell! The latest Shelby GT 350 or GT 500 incarnations! And that doesn't even take into consideration the Uber Bad Arse Ford GT!

And after All Honda's done for Indy Cars, including powering the entire Indy Racing League (IRL) grid, I'd love seeing an Acura NSX pressed into Pace Car duty.

Uhm, somehow, since we're still Making Americre' GURR-Reat again! I highly doubt that's gonna happen... While I sure hope General Motors is paying Hulman & Company a Boat-load 'O Greenbacks for having the exclusive rights to pacing the field. Which is too bad, since there's so many other worthy vehicles deserving Indy 500 Pace Car duty...