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1939 Buick Roadmaster Indianapolis 500 Pace Car


tbenvie
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I am researching the various Indy 500 Pace Cars and am now on 1939. The Pace Car was a Buick Roadmaster Phaeton trunk back without the sidemount tires. Model 81C painted Sequoia Cream with a Black leather interior. Only 311 Model 81C were produced, with another 53 Model 81CX for export. I found the Paint Code for Sequoia cream as 538, but have found two codes for Black Leather: 702 and 723. Does anyone know which one would be correct?

A special rear tonneau cover was made to cover the rear seat, but surprisingly was not on the car for race day.  Whitewalls were also added for the race. Attached are two pictures.

904222_583925961625022_474299475_o.jpg

1939 Buick Roadmaster 3.jpeg

Edited by tbenvie (see edit history)
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Yes, the photo really is of the race and I have more I will publish when finished the research. The above car has been stated to be the "real" Pace Car but it has sidemounts, no "trunk back", and red interior and wheels. The above is one of only three made. Looks great though

 

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I wonder where this car is today?

There are many actual Pace Cars that are not known as of yet. The 73 Cadillac was used to test other products and supposedly scrapped by GM. the 72 Hurst Olds and back up are both missing. Others are known as destroyed-the 63 Chrysler was stolen and stripped from Parnelli Jones shop, then parted and scrapped for instance.  People mistakenly think the winner got the Pace car, when in fact the first winner to get one was Louis Meyer in 1936 (Packard), then Wilbur Shaw in 1940 (Studebaker). 41 was a special Chrysler Newport Phaeton-all five still exist, but the winner did not get one. No race 42-45, but in 46 Lincoln hand built a car and it was turned over to Henry Ford II after the race, sold to a movie studio and now lives with a collector who has owned it since 1973. Nash gave the winner a car for 47, but not the Pace car. Cannonball Baker used it fr a number of promotional purposes, then it disappeared in 1949. the winner could have received the 48 Chevy Pace Car, but wanted a sedan instead. Unknown what happened to the real one. The 49 Olds went to the winner, driven until rusted and junked. The 50 Mercury caught fire and was destroyed six months after the race. So many stories!

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These two photos show the rear differences. The car on the right is lettered like the Pace car, and some internet articles even implies it is the actual car, but the actual car was a trunk-back, similar to the car on the left. Plus no sidemounts on the actual Pace Car. And it had a black interior.

Screen Shot 2021-09-25 at 10.57.29 AM.png

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On 9/26/2021 at 5:40 PM, tbenvie said:

I wonder where this car is today?

There are many actual Pace Cars that are not known as of yet. The 73 Cadillac was used to test other products and supposedly scrapped by GM. the 72 Hurst Olds and back up are both missing. Others are known as destroyed-the 63 Chrysler was stolen and stripped from Parnelli Jones shop, then parted and scrapped for instance.  People mistakenly think the winner got the Pace car, when in fact the first winner to get one was Louis Meyer in 1936 (Packard), then Wilbur Shaw in 1940 (Studebaker). 41 was a special Chrysler Newport Phaeton-all five still exist, but the winner did not get one. No race 42-45, but in 46 Lincoln hand built a car and it was turned over to Henry Ford II after the race, sold to a movie studio and now lives with a collector who has owned it since 1973. Nash gave the winner a car for 47, but not the Pace car. Cannonball Baker used it fr a number of promotional purposes, then it disappeared in 1949. the winner could have received the 48 Chevy Pace Car, but wanted a sedan instead. Unknown what happened to the real one. The 49 Olds went to the winner, driven until rusted and junked. The 50 Mercury caught fire and was destroyed six months after the race. So many stories!

The actual 1962 Pace Car could be one of two that were specially prepped for the race: https://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/forum/your-studebaker-forum/general-studebaker-specific-discussion/69229-1962-pace-cars-let-s-get-serious  In addition, there were 34 'Festival Cars' made for the race, but I see you received your answer here:  https://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/forum/your-studebaker-forum/general-studebaker-specific-discussion/115350-1962-pace-car

 

The 1962 winner, Rodger Ward, received an Avanti instead of the pace car: https://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/forum/your-studebaker-forum/general-studebaker-specific-discussion/1820495-indy-500-avanti

 

Nor did Rodger Ward receive the Avanti that was on display at the 1962 Indianapolis race, even though he appeared in some publicity photos standing next to it:   https://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/forum/your-studebaker-forum/general-studebaker-specific-discussion/1876785-avanti-at-indy-500-may-1962

 

Craig

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On 9/26/2021 at 4:58 PM, 1939_Buick said:

Is the 2nd photo definitely from the race? Expect there are many photos of the race

 

From BCA meet 2003 (100 years of Buick)

102-0283_IMG.JPG

 

And RMauction 2011

 

 

115904_Side_Profile_Web.jpg

115904_Rear_3-4_Web.jpg

This is NOT the pace car. This is the much more rare 80C slant back as others have alluded to. this car was in the NC area for a bit. It's nice but a replica as I understand

Edited by 38Buick 80C (see edit history)
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On 9/26/2021 at 12:24 PM, tbenvie said:

I am researching the various Indy 500 Pace Cars and am now on 1939. The Pace Car was a Buick Roadmaster Phaeton trunk back without the sidemount tires. Model 81C painted Sequoia Cream with a Black leather interior. Only 311 Model 81C were produced, with another 53 Model 81CX for export. I found the Paint Code for Sequoia cream as 538, but have found two codes for Black Leather: 702 and 723. Does anyone know which one would be correct?

A special rear tonneau cover was made to cover the rear seat, but surprisingly was not on the car for race day.  Whitewalls were also added for the race. Attached are two pictures.

904222_583925961625022_474299475_o.jpg

1939 Buick Roadmaster 3.jpeg

 

It looks to me that in the black and white photo, the white sidewall tires were "blacked out" on the photo itself. Probably always had white tires.

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Yes, this is the real deal. I have been collecting and scanning Pace Car info for over 40 years so don't know where it came from. I have many others in the Facebook Group link I posted Ihave already completed many years of Pace car research and have a Facebook Group for each one. Now working on the 38 Hudson, 37 Lasalle, 36 Packard.

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In the orig. picture there seems to be a large group of men at the bottom of the photo all dressed in, what appears to be, some type of military uniform.  The passenger in the pace car also seems to be wearing a similar (naval?) uniform.

Any ideas?

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