Owning A Piece Of History | TheUnion.com

Owning A Piece Of History

There’s a certain amount of ego involved in owning a vehicle that attracts attention merely by its presence on the road. People look at the car and driver, ask questions about it at every stop and the car owner takes great pride in having a unique piece of driving history in their garage. One need look no further than the streets of our towns during a car show to find owners and admirers deep in conversation about the merits of a particular vehicle.

The same holds true of racing enthusiasts, who flock to retail outlets and buy anything with a connection to their favorite driver, team, sponsors and vehicle manufacturer. My NASCAR room is a case in point, filled with diecast, photos, caps, books and a myriad of memorabilia devoted to stock car racing. If I had the chance to own a NASCAR racecar, I would probably add that to my collection. Now IndyCar fans have a chance to add a working piece of history to their collections.

In commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Corvette’s first use as a pace car for the Indianapolis 500, Chevrolet has issued a limited-edition, autographed replica of the black-and-silver 2008 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car for sale to the public. Only 500 special editions were produced and Weaver Auto and Truck Center in Grass Valley has two models of that vehicle, a coupe and a convertible, on the showroom floor.

Emerson Fittipaldi, two-time Indy 500 winner and an ambassador for the use of ethanol in automobiles, drove the E85 ethanol-powered Corvette pace car during this year’s Indy 500 at The Brickyard in Indianapolis, Indiana last May. Fittipaldi resides part-time in Brazil, a country where about 70% of new cars are equipped with FlexFuel systems that allow the use of ethanol or a gas/ethanol mix and now uses very little imported oil to operate its vehicles. “The E85-powered Z06 concept pace car proves economic and environmental consciousness can be fun and exhilarating,” Fittipaldi said.

A second pace car, honoring the 10th time Corvette has been selected as the official pace car for the Indianapolis 500, was the model for the 2008 commemorative editions. The anniversary cars are stock, not ethanol-powered Z06 vehicles. “They have 436 horsepower out of that new 6.0-liter, so it’s hot,” says Dan Taliaferro, sales consultant with Weaver. “They put the special exhaust on it so it sounds really good, it’s got vacuum flaps that open up as you stomp on it, it just growls at you,” he added with a grin.

The Corvettes are equipped with the 3LT option package, the Z51 performance package and that dual-mode exhaust as standard, with silver checkered flag graphics on the body, a two-tone, titanium-colored interior and leather seats embroidered with the Indy 500 emblem. “You can’t get the interior like that anywhere else,” Taliaferro said. The coupe features removable solid and clear tops and the convertible has an electric-powered soft top.

Other standard equipment included with these special Corvettes is the ‘heads up display’, power-shift, six-speed automatic transmission, sport suspension, high-performance brake package (vented and cross-drilled rotors with six-piston calipers), OnStar and Turn-by-Turn navigation and a Z06 rear spoiler.

Each Corvette also includes replicas of Emerson Fittipaldi’s signature on the body, as well as E85 emblems and other race-related decals. But the value of these special vehicles is increased with the addition of Fittipaldi’s actual signature and a number (1-500) on the inside of the car’s center console.

Like other Corvettes, these special editions don’t come cheap; about $63,000 for the coupe and about $71,000 for the convertible. But if you want to own a piece of history and those all-important bragging rights, perhaps this is the car for you. “They’re fun, they’re special, we like to have the specialty cars like that,” Taliaferro said. And the two cars at Weaver Auto and Truck Center are the only two in Northern California, according to Taliaferro.

Weaver’s is located at 400 Idaho-Maryland Road in Grass Valley. More information is available by calling 530-273-6141. For more information about Indy pace cars, check out http://www.indypacecars.com; there’s also info and links there to sites that offer cool Indy racing collectibles, like commemorative coins, books and calendars.

NASCAR Notes: Last Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway ended up as a typical restrictor plate race, with ‘the Big One’ (a term given the inevitable multi-car crash on a super speedway) occurring on the final lap of a green/white/checkered finish. Kyle Busch was just ahead of Carl Edwards when the caution flag came out for the crash, notching his sixth win so far this season. Yes, Kyle could use an attitude adjustment but, but love him or hate him, the guy can drive! This weekend will featuring more night racing at Chicagoland Speedway; the Nationwide series runs on Friday night with the Sprint Cup boys racing on Saturday night.

And kudos to Antelope’s Bill McAnally Racing, with driver Eric Holmes in first place in the NASCAR Camping World West driver point standings, Austin Cameron in fifth and Moses Smith in seventh after this season’s seventh race in Irwindale, Ca. Honorable mention to Roseville’s Motorway Motorsports driver Jamie Dick, a rookie holding on to tenth place by one slim point. That series races this weekend in Roseburg, Oregon, broadcast live on HDNet. You can also follow the race online at http://www.racingwest.com, where they have an observer entering race details as they happen, called ‘Near Live’.

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