64 ½ Indy Pace Cars

History of the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car

The Indianapolis 500 Pace Car History:
  Ford assembled approximately 225 Pace Car Mustangs (35 Convertibles and about 190 Hardtops) that found their way to the consuming public. The convertibles were sold to dealers after the race and the hardtops were distributed to winners of the "Checkered Flag" and "Green Flag" contest.

This was a special competition between dealerships in order to distribute the planned pace car replicas to be released for sale to the public. The competition consisted of "Checkered Flag" and "Green Flag" contests that were based on the sales performance of the dealerships prior to the April 17, 1964 introduction of the Mustang. The top five performers in each district would receive a pace car replica for free, or at a significant discount, based on their final standings in the sales contest. With 36 districts this added up to 180 replicas, however, because of dealership ties and strong performances, approximately 10 extra replicas were made, bringing the total to an estimated 190. Representatives from the 105 winning dealerships were invited to Dearborn for a special celebration, where the keys to their replicas were handed over by Mr. Lee Iacocca himself. Each of the replicas were coupes painted in Pace Car White (paint code "C" for 64 1/2) and had white interiors with blue appointments (code "42"). The cars were equipped with the 260 V8 engine, power steering, rear back-up lights and automatic transmissions. Other identifying features of the pace car replicas include pace car blue racing stripes up the center of the hood and "Official Pace Car" decals along the sides of the car. The words "PACE CAR" were written on the radiator support with a grease pencil of some kind, and then later painted over. The center stripes did not get placed on the taillight panel around the gas cap on coupes, but they did on the dignitary convertibles. Apparently some cars did not have the decals installed at the dealership, and due to a press photo showing a prototype with the stripes installed to one side rather than down the middle a few cars ended up with the stripes in this incorrect location. Another interesting fact with regards to the replica cars was the lack of outside mirrors. Standard procedure at the time was for cars to be delivered to the dealerships with the outside mirrors placed loose inside the car. When the car was prepped by the dealership the mirrors were then installed. However, the pace car replicas were not delivered the same way as regular Mustangs... the Checkered Flag cars were retrieved by the winning dealers from Dearborn, and the Green Flag cars were retireved from the District Sales Office by the dealer. This meant that these cars did not end up with an outside mirror. The VINs of the cars are sequentially numbered, but the DSOs reflect the dealerships that they were sent too. All of the replicas were built in April, except for the extras mentioned earlier that were built in May, and given a DSO of 84 ("Home Office" designation).

Another Story is what happened to the non replicas. In 1964, the new Mustang was the official "Indianapolis 500" Pace Car. Ford prepared two identical vehicles for this duty. One, was given to A.J. Foyt, the winner of the race, and shortly there after destroyed in a accident. The second one, which is shown in the Vin & Picure Gallery, was given to sebring florida Race track for official use, and remained there until 1992. The restoration, done by TSS Restorations of Melbourne Florida, returned the car to race day specifications. Modifications include:
  • 271 H.P. "K-Code" Engine (Balanced and Blueprinted)
  • Front Fender Braces
  • 9" Rear End
  • Lowered Suspension
  • Falcon Sprint Steering
  • Koni Shocks
  • Bright White exterior paint
  • White interieur (W/ blue and red accents)
  • Large Radiator (w/ overflow can)
  • 7.75 Firestone 500 tires
5F08F100241 was supposed to be owned by a guy named Bruce ***** in Georgia. It was offered in an auction at Dana Mecum’s Original Spring Classic Auction May 2007 in Indianapolis, IN.
Built on the historic first day of Mustang production in March 1964, this car is one of three identical convertibles delivered by Ford to noted race car builders Holman Moody of North Carolina for preparation as pace cars. After a quick evaluation it was determined that the cars would require special modifications in order to fulfill their mission. Their 164 horsepower 260 cubic inch Fairlane engines were replaced by Holman-Moody-built 289 engines patterned after those used in the famed GT40 racing program. Equipped with forged pistons, modified heads, special exhaust and other exclusive pieces, the engine developed sufficient horsepower to take the cars to their required top speed of 140 miles per hour. Borg-Warner T-10 four speed transmissions were installed for further durability.

The cars were given lowered suspensions, oversized tires and special under-hood chassis bracing to improve high-speed handling, and the radiators were replaced with larger units to eliminate the threat of overheating. They were then painted bright Pace Car white for better visibility in media photographs and on television.

With the delivery deadline looming ever closer, several other details were attended to before the cars would be ready to join a fleet of production Mustangs sent to Indy by Ford for the month prior to the race. According to the car’s longtime owner and restorer, Ford stalwart Bruce Weiss, only two of the three convertibles were completed in time for delivery. One car was chosen to actually perform pacing duties and the other appointed as backup, but the designated car developed problems and the Weiss car was called into service on race day.

Photos and documentation indicate that, after the race, the Mustang was returned to Holman Moody for refreshing before serving pace car duties at Sebring in July 1964, after which it became a daily driver for the next 28 years. Weiss began restoring the car in the mid nineties, during which time he was able to confirm the car’s provenance and authenticity.

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