Emerson Fittipaldi to pace Detroit field in Corvette Emerson Fittipaldi, two-time Formula One champion and two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, will drive the Corvette Z06 E85 Concept pace car in the Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch on Saturday, August 30. Fittipaldi will lead the field to the green flag for the start of the ninth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series during the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix weekend.
The customized Corvette Z06 E85 Concept pace car runs on E85 ethanol, a domestically produced alternative fuel. Ethanol-powered cars will also compete in the two-hour, 45-minute ALMS race, including Corvette Racing's championship-winning Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars powered by cellulosic E85R ethanol racing fuel in the GT1 class.
"Although not a production FlexFuel vehicle, the Corvette Z06 E85 Concept pace car is a high-performance example of Chevrolet's gas-friendly to gas-free initiative, demonstrating viable fuel solutions," said Ed Peper, GM North America Vice President, Chevrolet. "As a racing champion and an ethanol refiner in his native Brazil, Emerson Fittipaldi is the perfect Chevrolet ambassador to showcase GM's efforts with E85 at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix."
Fittipaldi won the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 and 1993 driving Chevrolet-powered race cars, and he won on the streets of downtown Detroit in Chevy-powered machines in 1989 and 1991 at the Detroit Grand Prix. His personal vehicles include a Corvette Z06 and a Camaro awarded after he won the 1993 Indy 500.
Fittipaldi, who has spent 30 years in his native Brazil as a refiner of ethanol, is an ardent champion of ethanol as a viable alternative to gasoline. Almost 90 percent of Brazilian new cars are equipped with flex-fuel systems that allow the use of a gasoline/ethanol mix or pure ethanol. As a result, Brazil has virtually weaned itself from imported oil.
"Most of the vehicles in Brazil are powered by ethanol, so I understand how a domestically produced renewable fuel can help the energy solutions of a nation," said Fittipaldi, who previously drove the Corvette Z06 E85 Concept pace car at the 2008 Indianapolis 500. "The E85-powered Corvette Z06 Concept pace car proves economic and environmental consciousness can be fun and exhilarating. I can't wait to get it on the race track again."
The Corvette Z06 E85 Concept pace car is based on the production Z06 -- already one of the fastest and most powerful cars on the market -- and is powered by E85, which consists of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Benefits of this high-octane, renewable alternative fuel include reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and a reduced dependence on petroleum. GM leads the automotive industry with more than 3 million E85-capable cars, trucks and SUVs on the road in the United States. Chevrolet offers seven E85-capable production models in 2008.
Apart from the fuel system and powertrain controller revisions required to run E85, the Z06 Concept pace car is mechanically stock. It is distinguished by a unique Gold Rush Green color-shifting paint scheme that changes between hues of green and gold when viewed from different angles and in different light. A subtle checkered flag pattern also is part of the paint scheme. Safety equipment and strobe lights are the only other equipment added to the car.
Corvette Racing's bright yellow C6.R race cars will also have a strong shade of green at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. The Corvettes' powerful 7.0-liter racing engines are powered by cellulosic E85R ethanol racing fuel made from waste wood collected in South Dakota's Black Hills National Forest as part of a wildfire prevention program. Corvette Racing made motorsports history earlier this year when it became the first professional motorsports team to win a race using cellulosic E85R.
"Along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is one of the highlights of Corvette Racing's season," said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. "It's huge for the team to race in Chevrolet's backyard. We're demonstrating not only to our fellow competitors but also to the world that cellulosic ethanol is a viable and powerful fuel."
Chevy will have a high profile at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. Chevrolet is the Official Vehicle and Corvette is the Official Pace Car of the event. Hundreds of Corvette owners will fill the Corvette Corral during the race weekend, and Chevy will have an extensive display on site.
The Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch is scheduled to start at 2:35 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Aug. 30. SPEED will televise the race live starting at 2:30 p.m. EDT. GM Racing PR