The connection between Corvette and auto racing runs deep. Ever since Zora Arkus-Duntov tuned up the C1, Corvettes have been proving their mettle on racetracks all over the world. Even at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the undisputed domain of American open wheel racing, Corvette will serve as the official pace car of the Indianapolis 500 for the 20th time. Our May Artifact of the Month, this autographed C5 fuel rail cover, celebrates the enthusiasm motorsports fans share for Corvette and the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Donated by Sheila Chaffee, the fuel rail cover includes signatures of 19 personalities from the IndyCar Racing Series. Among the autographs collected are those of Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Alexander Rossi. That list alone includes 11 Indianapolis 500 victories! Race fans will recognize many of the other names inscribed in silver, such as Michael Andretti, Chip Ganassi, Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal, and Sebastien Bourdais. Getting that many signatures of auto racing professionals on one piece of memorabilia is itself a worthy achievement.
Reflected in these names are tales of triumph at the Brickyard. Rossi won the 100th running of the Indy 500 as a rookie, crawling across the finish line after running out of fuel on the final lap. Castroneves also won at Indianapolis in his first attempt in 2001, backing that performance up with another victory the next year. At the time they autographed the fuel rail cover, Castroneves and Franchitti were likely tied with three Indy 500 victories apiece. Castroneves would break that tie in 2021, winning a fourth Indy 500 twenty years after his first victory.
Franchitti’s wins all came between 2007-2012, an impressive stretch of three victories in five attempts. A few months after that third win, Franchitti made a visit to the National Corvette Museum to take delivery of a new Corvette. His choice was a white 2013 Corvette 427 convertible. Not only did Franchitti’s car include the 60th Anniversary package, it was also decorated just like the 2012 Indy 500 pace car. His name, along with 18 others on this Corvette fuel rail cover, reflects the strong ties between Corvette, the Indy 500, and IndyCar fans.