This example was used as the pace car for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona Endurance Race in 2001, according to the owner. The car features an aluminum 5.7-liter LS1 V8 that puts out 350 horsepower. Finished in the distinctive Indy Racing League checkered-flag livery with yellow and white, this 2000 IRL Pace Car is complemented by a black leather interior and features a 360-degree strobe light package as well as a Z51 suspension package—all items necessary to pace an IRL or Daytona race. Never titled, it is still being offered on MSO and would make an excellent addition to any collection.
|2000 Chevrolet Corvette Indy Racing League Pace Car
|At least two (out of 18,113 coupes for 2000)
|Original List Price:
|Tune Up Cost:
|Chassis Number Location:
|Left side of the dashboard and right frame rail near the radiator
|Engine Number Location:
|Pad forward of cylinder head on right
|Corvette Club of America P.O. Box 9879 Bowling Green, KY 42102
|1993 and 1998 Indy Pace Car Edition convertibles, 1999–2003 24 Hours of Le Mans safety cars, 2003–04 Brickyard 400 Event Cars
This car, Lot 541, sold for $32,175, including buyer’s premium, at Auctions America by RM’s Spring Auburn sale in Auburn, IN, on May 14, 2011.
Let’s start with some very recent auction history:
This car caught the eye of Corvette Market’s Kevin Coakley, who wrote it up for us in his report from Auction America’s Spring Auburn sale:
“5.7-L 350-hp fuel-injected V8, auto. Never titled, used as pace car at Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Flashing light electronics take up much of storage behind seat. Good panel fit, loud stick-on graphics, clean engine bay with NAPA battery. Decent interior.
“Bid to a no-sale price of $32,500 at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale sale in April 2011, then a $21k no-sale at Auctions America by RM’s Carlisle sale the same month. Price paid here seems like the current market.”
Now, when our subject car was seen at the 2011 Spring Carlisle auction:
“5.7-L 350-hp fuel-injected V8, auto. Original finish exhibits light crazing to front of spoiler, small stress cracks in driver’s door, and light loss to graphics on front of hood. More than the expected wear to driver’s seat, leather somewhat dry. Rear compartment houses numerous electronics and original racing harnesses from its official duties. Engine bay not detailed but clean nonetheless.
“The pace car from the 2001 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, this Corvette must have been on static display somewhere with signs on or around it stating ‘PLEASE TOUCH.’ It was reportedly still on its MSO, which kind of made its status more confusing. Not really desirable as a driver example, there was not enough interest from bidders to get it sold.”
Even more auction history
I’ve traced this car as selling at Barrett-Jackson’s 2006 Palm Beach auction for $48,600. That was when GM moved it out of their Heritage Collection, along with a number of other event Corvettes, with the following notation:
“Paced an international field of world-class sports cars at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona Endurance Race in 2001 and features a 350-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8 LS1 aluminum engine, Z51 suspension package designed for sanctioned racing competition and a 360-degree strobe light package. GM and Barrett-Jackson make no warranty or representation of any kind, expressed or implied, concerning the vehicle (including on warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.)”
Barrett-Jackson also sold another 2000 Corvette that was said to be an IRL pace car, VIN 1G1YY22G7Y5100024, described almost identically to our featured car, at their 2007 Scottsdale auction for $44,000.
Pace car hoopla or hyperbole?
The 1978 Indy Pace Car Edition Corvette started all the hoopla on pace cars as collectibles. Now in the 21st Century, some folks think that pace cars from the Soap Box Derby through the Indy 500 are still in demand.
While we are used to seeing any one of a number of pace car variants pop up at almost every collector car auction, it’s the non-standard pace cars that seem to be something of a crapshoot. We can easily look up the values on any factory-issued Indy Pace Car Corvette in any price guide out there, but it’s not so cut and dry for other pace, track, festival, or event cars.
As stated, this example was used to pace the 2001 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. It was also pictured in a 2002 press release from Chevrolet when the 2002 Indy Pace Car and 50th Anniversary Corvette package was announced (see my report in Corvette Market 14, p. 34). In this same press release, it also stated that a Corvette was also the IRL pace car for an undefined number of events on the 2002 IRL calendar.
While it’s possible that another C5 was dolled up in exactly the same fashion, it’s also possible that it was our subject car—or the 2007 Barrett-Jackson example. There were 8,916 miles on the clock of our featured car, so it could have gone around several tracks several times. When researching the car, the most information I could find were its track record and auction appearances.
The graphics on our featured car are virtually the same style used by the 1999 and 2000 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona—although the Y2K edition was in blue rather than yellow. The same graphic scheme was also used on the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans Safety Cars in France, with documented examples all but identical and with red and blue in lieu of yellow. However, the red cars that I’ve seen are usually hard tops.
Needless to say, GM had a bunch of these Corvettes done up with this broad checkerboard graphic with a white beak—or the paint and graphics shop was working overtime redoing a smaller fleet of cars.
At least it’s not a hybrid
To muddy the waters even further, an Oldsmobile Aurora was the usual pace car during the 2001 IRL season.
Exceptions were the Indy 500 that year (paced by a 2002 Olds Bravada SUV), and when Corvettes took over pace car duties in October 2001 at the Texas Speedway event.
Olds was going down for the count in 2002, so it makes sense that GM would switch all pace car duties to the Corvette—after all, it’s the highest-profile vehicle offered by the automaker.
If our featured car really was the 2002 season pace car, why not use a new 2002 Corvette instead of a 2-year-old example? Perhaps this was due to having at least one older pace car sitting around the division with no better use, as true pace cars couldn’t be sold through the dealer network—even as a perk or VIP car.
While these Corvettes are not overly unique, at least they are more exciting than the last few years of the IRL’s latest pace/safety cars, which were chosen to placate the Greenie Weenie crowd—Honda Accord hybrids.
On the MSO for a reason
We see a number of “instant collectibles” on the market and at auction that are hyped up as being “on the MSO,” or Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin. In essence, a retail buyer will never see an MSO, as this document is generated from the manufacturer to be submitted to a state’s licensing department to get a title for a vehicle.
However, in the world of collector cars, MSOs have almost become the mark of a mint, uncirculated car—akin to having a coin or comic book sealed in a protective casing and professionally rated as a collectible.
But an MSO is anything but that. All an MSO means is that the car hasn’t been titled—and a never-been-titled car and a perfect-condition car are not necessarily one and the same. I’ve seen quite a few of the earlier noted 1978 Corvette Pace Cars that are “on the MSO,” but they have unwound from aging and less-than-perfect storage. Many of those cars would now rate as number 3 or even 4 condition.
Now that our subject car is not a current-production vehicle, it may not be a slam-dunk to even get a title—especially if it’s not submitted to the DMV by a dealer. Indeed, taking an MSO down to the local DMV office will probably involve a conversation with the district manager for the state’s DMV, as you explain your case.
However, for this car, there may be another reason that it was not titled—it may not be eligible to be titled. When GM released the car at the Barrett-Jackson auction in 2006, both GM and Barrett-Jackson used enough legal phraseology to absolve themselves from any future issues resulting from any inability to get the car street legal.
When GM sold the car at the 2006 Palm Beach auction, no mention was made that an MSO would be provided, and CM did not actually see a copy of said MSO any time it was at auction. Was it actually a true MSO—or was it just a bill of sale on GM letterhead that had the car’s VIN on it—stating that it cannot be titled and used on the highway?
At least the auction house’s estimate of $30k to $40k was correct. If you’re able to drop $33k without any concern about being able to drive a late-model car on the road—and just have it as a spendy garage ornament or private museum piece—you are a realistic buyer for the car. If you stick a dealer plate on it just beware of a VIN check at a routine traffic stop. Your IRL Pace Car might end up at the impound yard