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Jay Leno and 2000 Monte Carlo


INDIANAPOLISThe all-new 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo will pace the 83rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1999 — the first time a Monte Carlo has been honored with the role of leading an Indy 500 field. Comedian Jay Leno, host of NBC’s Emmy-winning and top-rated "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," will drive the pace car at the Indy 500. Leno, who is also an avid car collector and enthusiast, is a perfect fit behind the wheel of the Monte Carlo, according to Don Parkinson, Monte Carlo brand manager.

"Jay loves to drive and he loves fast cars, especially unique, one-of-a-kind vehicles," Parkinson said. "Pace car duty involves all of that excitement, and we’re looking forward to Jay bringing his enthusiasm and his sense of humor to the event. Chevrolet and Jay have a lot in common – we both think driving should be fun!"

Leno is one of the few non-automotive celebrities to drive a Chevrolet pace car at the Indy 500. He joins actor James Garner, who led the field in 1975, 1977 and 1985, as the second television personality to pace the great race.

"Pacing Indy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I absolutely can’t wait," Leno said.

This isn’t Leno’s first association with racing. He served as the emcee of the Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet in 1991. In addition, he incorporated "Jay’s Garage," where he ruminates about all things automotive, into a section of "The Tonight Show" website. In his spare time, Leno also enjoys working on his collection of classic cars and motorcycles.

A Chevrolet has paced the Indy field 11 times in the past, including four prior times this decade. Chevy pace car drivers have usually been selected from the ranks of former Indy 500 drivers, such as Parnelli Jones, who was a last-minute replacement for golfing great Greg Norman last year as he recovered from shoulder surgery. In addition, the most recent Chevy pace car drivers include Jim Perkins, past Chevrolet general manager, who led the pack in 1995, 1993 and 1990, as well as flying ace and aerospace pioneer, Brigadier General Chuck Yeager in 1986.

Chevrolet’s Monte Carlo pace car will also make motorsports history May 30 as it becomes the first car to pace two major motorsports events on the same day: the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C.

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