Zora Arkus-Duntov (1909-1996) was a Belgian-born American race car driver and automotive engineer. He went to work for General Motor’s Corvette program in 1953 and by the early 1960s earned the nickname of “Father of the Corvette.”
In a famous and extremely passionate memo to GM’s board of directors, Arkus-Duntov single-handedly saved the car from extinction. He then shared parts and technology with professionals and amateur Corvette racing enthusiasts across America to perfect the car. And in 1962 he drove a corvette to a record 150 mph at Daytona Beach.
Fast-forward this short history lesson to the choice for this year’s Indianapolis 500 pace car – the 2019 ZR1 Corvette, the 15th time the Corvette has been chosen to pace the race.
Arkus-Duntov’s pursuit to make the Chevrolet V-8 small block the most powerful and reliable engine continues today with the development of the LT5. By the way, the ZR1 stands for Zora Racer No. 1.
The ZR1 is the fastest Corvette produced off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Ky. The 6.2-liter engine comes equipped with a supercharger and is capable of producing 755 horsepower with a speed of 212 mph right off factory line. The car can be ordered with an eight-speed paddle shift or a seven-speed manual transmission.
The car was clock at 187 mph in the standing mile, and it can go from 0-60 in 2.85 seconds while eclipsing the 100 mph barrier in six seconds flat. It had consistent times of 10.6 seconds in quarter-mile runs.
Only three ZR1 pace cars were manufactured. One goes to the winner of the race, another to the Hulman family for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum and the third one to the National Corvette Museum.
According to the April edition of “Magazine Corvette,” the 2019 ZR1 Corvettes start at $119,995.
Until next time, happy cruisin’!