SPEEDWAY, Ind. - What better place to try out the new great American ‘Vette than at the greatest of American races – the Indy 500. This fifth generation Corvette was once again the pace car and leads all other nameplates in starting the race. For that matter, few other nameplates have survived 45 years to even have a chance to be a repeat pace car.
Not only did a venerated car lead the racers, behind the wheel of the Corvette pace car was the most exciting driver in this half century: Parnelli Jones. He is renowned for being the first to exceed 150 mph at the Speedway, and now we are discussing the likelihood of the new Corvette achieving that lap speed in stock form - a remarkable indication of the state of art of modern suspensions and tires.
'Vette has balanced blend
This fifth generation ‘Vette has such an excellent blend of balanced handling, wonderful tires, refined anti-lock brakes and traction control that I could push the car as far as any person who valued his skin would consider while maintaining full control and composure.
The first 1997 Corvette version was a hatchback coupe with a removable one-piece roof panel, followed last year by the Corvette Convertible. Now comes the fixed-roof hardtop version for ’99, which is the lightest and most performance-oriented version - with some neat extras.
Among them is "head up" display. While we’ve seen this before, this is by far the best thought out and executed. The numbers are clear in the brightest light, and it includes a thoughtful flashing light as a turn signal reminder. Another welcome change is a steering wheel that both telescopes and tilts. I'm really impressed with the stability control system, which not only will save you in unexpected slippery spots but will extend the range of control in high performance driving. A talented driver can go beyond the limitations of the system, but it has a performance driving mode that will enable the rear end to slip out a bit.