DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Chevrolet’s newest pace cars are painted fire-engine red, somewhat fitting since the automaker needed a real one last week at Daytona International Speedway.
Chevy unveiled its latest pace car lineup Thursday, the same day it said a pinched wire likely caused a trunk fire in the Chevrolet SS pace car during the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race at Daytona on Saturday.
“It appears we had a pinched wire in one of the strobe systems,” said Jeff Chew, marketing manager for Chevrolet Racing.
Chew was on hand to unveil three new pace cars to be used this weekend at Daytona: a Silverado 1500 for the Truck Series opener Friday, a Camaro SS for the Nationwide opener Saturday and a Chevrolet SS for the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
All three have LED lighting systems, which don’t use the same wiring system that seemingly started the fire.
“It’s a completely different system,” Chew said. “The other one was the traditional strobe system that had run for years and years. This is the new LED technology that you see everywhere from emergency vehicles to everything, We’re going to integrate those now.”
Chevy is switching to LED systems for its pace cars, a decision made long before the fire that started just before the third segment of the Sprint Unlimited. Flames could be seen shooting from the rear of the car as it sat on the Daytona apron. A replacement pace car was brought out to finish the race. The burned car was shipped back to Detroit for analysis.
“Very minor damage,” Chew said.
Still, the fire was the latest bizarre mishap at Daytona. The list includes the pesky pothole that wreaked havoc during the 2010 Daytona 500, driver Juan Pablo Montoya slamming into a jet dryer in the 2012 Daytona 500 and last year’s last-lap crash in the Nationwide Series that injured about 30 spectators and ripped apart a chunk of protective fencing.
The fire also added to what had been a tough week for Chevy.
General Motors recalled almost 800,000 of its 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 compacts in North America because of faulty ignition switches. And a sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky swallowed eight rare cars.
Chevy pushed all that aside Sunday when Austin Dillon qualified the famed No. 3 on the pole at the Daytona 500.