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Charlie Stewart’s 1960 Oldsmobile Indianapolis 500 Pace Car

Earlier in the week, Charlie Stuart’s 1953 Studebaker Commander Hoosier “100” Pace Car was featured here, and today we cover the Indianapolis Oldsmobile dealer’s involvement in the 1960 Indianapolis 500 race.

But first, we need to return back to the 1950s and two racing incidents that changed the face of the sport forever. At the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans race, a monumental racing disaster occurred when a Mercedes racing car was involved in a crash with another car and ended up in the grandstand and killed 82 spectators and injured many others.

  • Charlie Stuart above presenting the keys for one of the Oldsmobile’s to Tony Hulman president of the Speedway – In the photo below Stuart gives the keys to Jim Rathmann, the winner of the 1960 Indianapolis 500 Race.

Two years later in 1957, it was reported that a Mercury Meteor crashed into the grandstand at a NASCAR sponsored stock car race. Shortly after that in June of 1957, the Automobile Manufacturers Association in a defensive move banned the involvement of automakers in racing. The ban also included not providing pace cars for races or assisting anyone involved in auto racing or publishing race results. The action ended in 1962 when Ford announced that it was going back into auto racing.

Chuck Stuart supplied these photos and wrote the following about his father’s involvement in the 500-mile racing classic: “Charlie Stuart Oldsmobile, Inc. furnished the 1960 Pace Car and sixty-six other Oldsmobiles used for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. My dad paid for all of the costs involved with the Pace Cars and the other Oldsmobiles involved in the race and the Indianapolis 500 Festival.”

 

 

18 responses to “Charlie Stewart’s 1960 Oldsmobile Indianapolis 500 Pace Car

  1. Across the street just above the Old’s windshield is (I believe) a Simca.
    Also across the street just above the Old’s trunk lid is what looks to be
    a Renault. I guess sales in the US weren’t high enough for either maker
    to keep them in business here very long. Both exited in the early ’60’s.

  2. In the lead photograph, “above” the trunk of the ’60 OLDSMOBILE convertible, is what looks like a 1957 RAMBLER Deluxe 4 Door Sedan. Across the street from the RAMBLER is a two-tone, two-door, 1955 BUICK Special [non-Riviera].

    • The politics & inner squabbles involved in car racing can ruin the sport for many. The Dale Earnhardt Jr. scenarios are a good example. We all know there are others.

  3. I’m finding it hard to believe that a dealer, without any corporate assistance, is providing over 60 brand new cars for an event like the Indianapolis 500. Yes, the event has national significance, but was this really feasible for a single dealer? How is one dealer going to sell 66 Pace Car replicas in the same town, let alone a single replica? There were 7,284 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight convertibles sold in 1960, so it is hard to imagine a dealer selling even five of them during the entire year.

    Coincidentally, last Sunday I was reading a story about a man trying to determine if his 1959 Buick Electra 225 convertible was the Indy 500 Pace Car. The author, Tim Sidoti states the following.

    “There were, however, about three years (including 1959) in which the Pace Cars were “officially” sponsored by dealerships because at the time the manufacturers were trying to disavow any official involvement with racing (including providing the Pace Cars). In reality he [Donald Davidson, unofficial historian of the Indianapolis 500 Speedway] told me, the manufacturers were always totally behind obtaining and delivering all the Pace Cars and the dealer “sponsorship” during that brief period was just a front. ”

    I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I wonder if some details that Mr. Stuart relates have been lost over the last nearly 60 years. Link to the full 1959 Buick Pace Car story below. Replace the word “dot” with a period symbol. 1fine59 dot com/?p=66

  4. The color photo of the `60 Olds 98 Pace Car solves a mystery of sorts for me. Im an adult model car builder, and have a kit if this cvt. Now I know the interior color was the tri-tone green! Others swore it was tri-tone blue. Now I can build this car–complete with pace car decals!

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