Even though a Chevy didn’t win during Daytona’s just-concluded Speedweeks, the company still had a big presence at the many events.
Chevy vehicles – ranging from the Silverado 1500 RST to the Camaro ZL1 1LE to the C8 Corvette Stingray – served as pace cars for, respectively, Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series, and Sunday’s Daytona 500.
All of those vehicles were finished in the same shade of Rapid Blue with unique black, white and red pace car graphics, and a just-released video from Chevy offers fans a chance to see these vehicles up close as part of a promotion for Chevy MyWay.
That’s a new online service launched by the company to allow customers to find out more about Chevy products through a live stream video chat with sales representatives. To promote the launch of that service, Chevy and Daytona officials took part in a 17-minute video that provides a lot of good information about Chevy’s history at the track, the pace vehicles, and more.
We found the most interesting segments to be with Kip Childress, assistant series director, NASCAR Cup Series, and Jim Campbell, vice president of Chevrolet Performance and Motorsports.
Childress had the responsibility – and pleasure – of serving as the Corvette pace car driver during the Daytona 500, and he explained a little about the importance of the pace car, primarily as a safety feature.
“We put the car in front of the field to make sure the field stays under control,” he explains. “As we roll off to start the race, we help the teams set their pit road speeds. They don’t have a speedometer in the car, so they set their tachometers by the pit road speed that we run. When we ease off, we’ll actually have the lights off. A lot of folks if they’ve never seen a race or maybe even they’ve seen ‘em at maybe their local short track, it’ll confuse them. We wait until we hit that pit road speed and we turn the lights on and we call the tower and it lets the tower, the spotters, everyone there know and the drivers behind us of course that we’ve reached pit road speed. That’s where they’ll set that tachometer reading.”
Childress says he sits in the pace car with his helmet and earplugs on, communicating with the race director and series director who act as spotters for him, “letting me know when it’s clear to go out and pick up the leader, who the leader is, and then what we’re looking for once we get onto the track. If it’s a big accident, it can get pretty exciting on the radio.”
As for his time behind the wheel of the new mid-engine Corvette, Childress called it “a blast” to drive.
Meanwhile, Campbell and Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile offer viewers an interesting look inside and out at the actual GM concept car, Firebird 1, designed in 1953 by GM’s Harley Earl that has always served as the model for the car on top of the legendary Daytona trophy.
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