The track at the famed Indianapolis Brickyard is a 2-mile rectangle with two five-eighths-mile-long straightaways. It's 50 feet wide on the straights and 60 feet wide in each of the four one-quarter-mile turns, each banked at 9 degrees, 12 minutes.
Race driver Peter Revson won the pole position for the 1971 Memorial Day race with a qualifying speed of 178.6 mph.
Dodge's Challenger, at almost 16 feet long on a 110-inch wheelbase, was selected as the pace car that year and four Indianapolis area dealers provided 50 of them. All the cars were orange with white tops. The actual pace car had a 383-cubic-inch V-8; two other Challengers had 340-cubic-inch V-8 engines and the other 47 cars were equipped with 318-cubic-inch V-8 engines.
The three cars with the bigger engines had the pace car data hand-painted on the sides of the car. The flanks of the other 47 carried the same information conveyed via decals.
One of the dealers, Eldon Palmer, was selected to drive the pace car. He practiced diligently in the 275-horsepower car to get the speed up to where it needed to be. The tale is told that he used several orange cones located at strategic spots around the track as markers for braking points.
On May 29, 1971, with 33 snorting race cars trailing behind, Palmer began the parade lap followed by the faster pace lap. As he came out of turn four...
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