As 33 growling racing machines slowly move off the starting grid and into the parade laps before the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29 -- swerving sharply from side to side to heat up the tires and then revving up for the pace lap -- they'll be led by a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS pace car with Roger Penske at the wheel.
In those heart-thumping first trips around the track -- and later when caution flags are out -- the pace car is in command of the Indy 500.
It's a terrific responsibility and an honor for the driver and for the make and model of car.
Starting with a LaSalle V-8 in 1927, General Motors has dominated the list of Indianapolis 500 pace cars. Counting the 2016 pace car, GM has had 54 of the 100 pace cars since the race was first run in 1911. Since 2002, all pace cars have been Chevrolets.
The last non-GM car to pace the field was in 1996, when a Dodge Viper piloted by Bob Lutz, then president of Chrysler, led the race drivers on their warm-up and pace laps.
Except for the 1941 Chrysler-Newport (Phaeton) A.B. Couture show car, all pace cars have been production models made by American carmakers.
Thus, the Indy 500 pace cars have not reflected the changing American vehicle landscape.
There have been no Toyotas, Hondas, Volkswagens or Mercedes-Benzes.
The cars have indeed been cars, with a couple of notable exceptions such as 2001, when the Oldsmobile Bravada SUV somehow slipped in and in 2003 with the Chevy SSR convertible pickup.
Some of history's best-known marques paced the race in its earlier days: Stutz (1912), Marmon (1920 and 1928), Duesenberg (1923), Packard (1915, 1919, 1936) and Cord (1930).