This year's running of the Indianapolis 500 will be a celebration of the Month of May in Indiana, as The Greatest Spectacle in Racing returns to its traditional Memorial Day Weekend time after being moved to August in 2020. Leading the field to green will be one former Indy 500 standout who created her own unique legacy at the Speedway: Danica Patrick.
On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that the former IndyCar star and auto racing icon will serve as the pace car driver for the 105th Indianapolis 500. Patrick, who made eight starts in the Indy 500 and became one of the most successful woman drivers in the event's history, will lead the 33-car field to the green flag in an arctic white Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
In addition to serving as the pace car driver, Patrick will also serve as a studio analyst for NBC's coverage of the race.
"I am very honored to drive the Corvette Stingray Pace Car this year at the Indy 500," Patrick said in a statement released by the speedway. "It is even more special because of the past year we have all endured, and it will be so nice to see fans back in the stands. I'm also excited to again be a part of the NBC broadcast team for the race.
"I have always loved Chevy vehicles, and the Corvette convertible is such a beautiful car. Maybe they will let me drive it home!"
In the 2000s and 2010s, Danica Patrick became one of the biggest stars in auto racing based largely on her accomplishments at Indianapolis.
As a rookie in 2005, Patrick became the first woman to ever lead laps in the Indianapolis 500, being in front for 19 laps and contending for the win before finishing fourth. Patrick would go on to finish in the Top 10 in six of her eight Indianapolis 500 starts with a best finish of third in 2009.
After racing full-time in NASCAR from 2012 to 2017, Patrick finished her racing career with a final start in the 2018 Indianapolis 500 prior to her retirement.
Patrick's career helped to greatly advance women in racing, and the entry list for this year's Indy 500 includes one female driver. Swedish driver Simona de Silvestro, the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, will attempt to qualify for the race driving for Paretta Autosport.