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In 1977, the format was changed to three warm up laps - two "parade laps" and one "pace lap".During the parade lap(s), often several replica festival pace cars join the field, usually carrying celebrities and/or special guest drivers.He crashed into a photographer's stand at the south end of the pit area, injuring several persons.In the years immediately following, the pace car driver utilized would only be an experienced race driver.In almost every year since 1936, it has been a tradition that the winner of the Indianapolis 500 be presented with one of that year's pace cars (or a replica).
Previously only fans on other parts of the track got to actually see the grid go by for photographs and waving.
His primary duty was to marshal the start and in some years, his responsibilities included operating a film camera that would be housed inside the car's trunk.
Dating back to the very early years, the pace cars were often painted with special liveries complete with logos, lettering, pinstriping, and other decorative markings.
Former Indy winner Jim Rathmann served six times (and once for caution periods only).
Celebrities James Garner and Marty Robbins were chosen in part due to their experience in racing.The field would use the lap to warm up their engines, tires, and then at the conclusion of the lap, at a prescribed speed, the pace car would pull off the track and allow for a rolling or "flying" start.