2000 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX GTP
RETIRED NASCAR PACE CAR
2000 DAYTONA 500
CAR 0029 Real Pace Car Owned by George Tuominen
Car 0043 Backup owned by DAYTONA SPEEDWAY
Car 0045 DISPLAY CAR owned by Jim Smith
Car 0058 DISPLAY CAR owned by Jim Smith
OF THE 2,000 DAYTONA 500 PACE CAR EDITION CARS BUILT THAT YEAR, THESE ARE THE ONLY 5 CARS BUILT WITHOUT SUNROOFS. NASCAR RULES DICTATED THAT YEAR THAT PACE CARS WOULD NOT HAVE SUNROOFS, AS A 1999 GRAND PRIX PACE CAR WAS T-BONED IN AN ARCA SERIES RACE AT DAYTONA SPEEDWAY. EVEN THOUGH THE DAYTONA 500 PACE CAR EDITION GRAND PRIXS HAD SUNROOFS AS A STANDARD OPTION IN THE 2000 MODEL YEAR, THE CARS USED FOR OFFICIAL PACE CAR DUTY COULD NOT AND SO THE FIRST FIVE DAYTONA 500 EDITIONS CARS BUILT (0029, 0031, 0043, 0045 AND 0058) WERE SPECIAL ORDERED WITHOUT SUNROOFS.
THIS WEBSITE IS ABOUT CAR 0029, THE ONLY REAL 2000 DAYTONA 500 PACE CAR EVER RELEASED BY GM TO THE PUBLIC.
Alexis Kerr and Daytona Archives ROCKS!!! Just thought I'd get that in there!!!
Graphic Courtesy of Todd Applegate - Chicagograndprix.net
CREW CHIEF: CHASE TUOMINEN
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
FEBRUARY 20, 2000
This is the story about a RETIRED NASCAR DAYTONA 500 PACE CAR used in the running of the 2000 DAYTONA 500
Back of car... Yellow flasher bar across the top, and yellow strobes in each back-up light.
One of two race operational PACE CARS used in the running of the 2000 DAYTONA 500. Also used as a PROMOTIONAL CAR for the 2001 DAYTONA 500, and used to lead out the pace cars for that race. Center Console signed by Dale Earnhardt SR and passenger airbag cover signed by Dale Jarrett! This is now arguably one of the best (if not the best) documented NASCAR PACE CARS in the world which played a part in two of the most historic races in NASCAR WINSTON CUP HISTORY. It is also one of the few that got released to the public with a fully operating strobe system and all of the graphics intact.
Side view of car as it appears to this day with the original 18 INCH Concept Neeper SHADOW wheels with GOODYEAR F1 SUPERCAR Tires.
Front of car... Strobes are located in the headlights, fog lights, and mirrors.
ABOVE - This is the car at DAYTONA USA with the RACE DAY text on the doors
BELOW - This is the ONLY photo I have of the car with the 2000 PEPSI 400 logos on the doors.
BELOW - The car on display at DAYTONA USA in AUGUST 2000 with the LOGOS for the 2001 DAYTONA 500 - Photo courtesy of Timothy Stamper at www.thestampers.com
This is how the car appears to this day.
THE INFORMATION BELOW IS WHAT I TRULY BELIEVE TO BE CORRECT SO FAR. THERE HAS BEEN SOME CONFLICTING INFORMATION AT DIFFERENT TIMES ABOUT THE PACE CARS, BUT I BELIEVE MY INFORMATION IS CORRECT. I AM 100% SURE MY CAR IS ONE OF THE TWO PACE CARS USED TO PACE THE 2000 DAYTONA 500, AND IT WAS A PROMOTIONAL CAR FOR THE 2001 DAYTONA 500. HOWEVER, THE RESEARCH IS STILL BEING DONE ON EXACTLY HOW MANY ADDITIONAL DISPLAY CARS WERE BUILT UP FOR THE 2000 DAYTONA 500. TWO PACE CARS WERE USED IN THE RACE, AND THERE WERE TWO OR FOUR DISPLAY CARS.
SO HERE IS WHAT I KNOW SO FAR ABOUT MY CAR...
The DAYTONA 500 is known as “The Great American Race”
The 2000 Daytona 500 was hailed as the “First Race of the Millennium”, and was Dale Jarretts third Daytona 500 win. The 2001 Daytona 500 will forever be remembered for the loss of one of NASCARS greatest, Dale Earnhardt, and for the stunning first victory by Michael Waltrip.
To commemorate the 2000 Daytona 500, Pontiac introduced the Grand Prix GTP “Daytona 500 Pace Car” Edition. They built 2,000 of these vehicles which had several special features. Some of the features proved popular enough to be included on future Grand Prix models.
These features include:
NASCAR inspired roof rail fences (optional on later models)
Two-tone leather seating with embroidered “Daytona 500” logos
Small “Daytona 500” decal from the lower door to the back wheel well
“One of 2000 – Daytona 500” checkered flag emblem on center console
Special silver dash bezel and interior trim
Stainless steel exhaust tips
Special rear spoiler (optional on later models)
Hood heat extractors (optional on later models)
While sunroofs were standard on the Daytona 500 Pace Car Editions, two (out of 2,000) cars were special ordered without sunroofs. These two particular cars were not invoiced to a dealer. Instead, they were drop-shipped to TDM of Detroit, and modified for Pace Car duties. GM Racing then took delivery of the cars, and hauled them down to Daytona International Speedway for use as the actual Pace Cars for the 2000 Daytona 500.
Special modifications for Pace Car duties include:
Lowered suspension with stiffer springs setup for the Daytona International Speedway
Concept Neeper “Shadow” 18 Inch wheels with Goodyear F1 tires. After a long search, I NOW HAVE THE CORRECT WHEELS WITH THE GOODYEAR F1 "SUPERCAR" TIRES! Thanks to Greg Bowman for his help in locating these wheels. This car is pretty much in race day configuration now (except the promotional 2001 Daytona 500 graphics), with the wheels, suspension and lights all intact. Now I just need the brakes!!!
Performance computer chip
Whelen strobe system with special lightbar wing... The strobe system is still FULLY FUNCTIONAL with the flash pattern used in the race.
“Pontiac Racing” graphics set
The 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP and the 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo were the OFFICIAL PACE CARS of NASCAR in 2000. Thirteen races had Monte Carlo Pace Cars (which were not street legal, and were not released to the public that year), and the rest used the Pontiac Grand Prixs. They used 26 Grand Prix GTP Pace Cars that year in the Winston Cup Series, and they all had the same basic "Pontiac Racing" graphics package. All of the Grand Prix GTP cars were white that year, EXCEPT the TWO Daytona 500 Pace Cars (AND TWO disaplay cars) which were silver to commemorate the First Race of the Millennium. The two silver cars were modified "Daytona 500 Pace Car Edition" series vehicles.
The white Pace Cars did not have some of the features unique to the "Daytona 500 Pace Car Edition" cars such as the roof rail fences, the "Daytona 500" embroidered seats, etc. Also, other tracks used their Pace Cars for multiple races, but the two silver Daytona 500 cars were ONLY USED to pace the 2000 Daytona 500.
*NOTE... I just recently found out that GM had two display cars as well as the two actual Pace Cars. This is now being researched, but this information has been confirmed by PONTIAC HISTORIC SERVICES.
2000 DAYTONA 500
FEBRUARY 20, 2000
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
The 2000 DAYTONA 500 was historic for several reasons. It was billed as the FIRST RACE OF THE MILLENNIUM. Dale Jarrett had a wreck in HAPPY HOUR practice the evening before the race. He had body men flown in from Hickory NC to get the car fixed in time to run the DAYTONA 500, as he was the pole sitter for the race. He won the race while FOLLOWING THE PACE CAR UNDER THE CHECKERED FLAG! It was his third DAYTONA 500 win, and it was a WINSTON NO BULL race so he won an extra million bucks, along with one really happy fan!
It was also the first race with the new for 2000 RACE FORD TAURUS and 2000 RACE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO. Chevrolet promoted this with a special DALE EARNHARDT advertising campaign that was delayed until the 2000 DAYTONA 500 since the cars were not ready until then.
For collectors of DIECAST cars, two really famous race cars were run that day. Dale Earnhardt drove the famous RED TAZ #3 car, and Jeff Gordon drove the SILVER NASCAR 2000 DUPONT #24 car. Both of these cars are top collectibles. In fact, THE RED TAZ #3 was part of a DIECAST PR Campaign that would change the marketing of DIECAST cars (See the link below to read an article about what happened to this car after the race). This Pace Car was right there beside the RED TAZ during the race.
Left: The RED TAZ #3 CAR.... Right: The Gordon NASCAR 2000 SILVER DUPONT CAR (from jayski.com)
These cars were both run in the 2000 DAYTONA 500
It was Dale Jrs' first DAYTONA 500, and he would sadly only race in the DAYTONA 500 twice with his dad. It was Darryl Waltrips LAST DAYTONA 500. Also, in an unfortunate incident, Tony Stewart hit one of his crewmen in the pits.
PACE PICANTE SAUCE ran an interesting promotion where the winner of a contest won a ride in the PACE CAR (He rode in THIS car), and won a replica PONTIAC GRAND PRIX DAYTONA 500 Edition. Aaron Smith won the contest, but he was overseas in the military, so he let his brother Jamie take the ride in the Pace Car during the race. He kept the replica car for himself though. I just talked to his brother, and he is sending me pictures taken from my car DURING the race, INCLUDING SOME PICTURES OF THE RED TAZ #3 car. When the Pace Car was pulling off the track, Earnhardt drove past the car and gave Jamie a thumbs up! I guess Jamie caught that on film. I really look forward to seeing these pictures, and I will get them up on the site ASAP. Thanks to Jamie Smith of Mulberry FL for the pictures! As far as I know, this was the only time PACE sponsored a Pace car!
Now this is where things get CRAZY with this car. Many people know the tradition that DAYTONA USA keeps the WINNING RACE CAR for display for a year. They ALSO keep THE PACE CAR for a year. So this car was on display at DAYTONA USA for a year. It was often parked at the entrance of DAYTONA USA (See the above photos) and the door graphics were changed to promote the 2000 PEPSI 400, and then the 2001 DAYTONA 500, which are the logos the car has to this day. It also has the date FEBRUARY 18, 2001 on the doors. That is known throughout NASCAR as BLACK SUNDAY. This car was THE promotional car for that race, and is FEATURED in the 2001 DAYTONA 500 program. NASCAR Collectors will always save copies of the 2001 DAYTONA 500 program, and right on page 71 is a photo of THIS PACE CAR that is over a half page in size.
During the 2000 and 2001 seasons, DAYTONA also used the car to provide rides around the track, and they actually put OVER 10,000 miles on the car. The car was not actually sold to the public until LATE 2002!
This history is all documented in a Letter of Authenticity from GM RACING Marketing Manager R J Chew.
But it gets even crazier. The night before he was lost in the 2001 DAYTONA 500, Dale Earnhardt took TWO Pontiac Grand Prix Pace Cars for a joyride around the track. Many people know he had a thing for Pace Cars and he would often grab the keys and take someone for a ride. He would also nudge the Pace Cars when he was leading under a caution. Anyway, that night he took Terry Bradshaw for a ride in one Grand Prix Pace Car, and then took another Grand Prix Pace Car for a ride. I have been told my car was one of the two, but I have not been able to confirm that yet. So I am looking for any further information on this, as these two Grand Prix Pace Cars are most likely THE LAST CARS HE EVER DROVE besides the car he crashed the next day.
Then on February 18, 2001, right after his accident, as the ambulance and rescue crews worked in vain to save Dale Earnhardt, two Pace Vehicles pulled up. A brown PONTIAC AZTEC (the 2001 Daytona 500 Pace Car), and a SILVER Grand Prix Pace Car. My guess is they were track officials going out to the crash site. The SILVER PACE CAR IS CLEARLY VISIBLE in a tribute video run that night by FOX SPORTS. In this very touching video, the ambulance carrying Dale Earnhardt SR to the hospital pulls away from the crash site passing right behind the silver Grand Prix Pace Car (Many people speculated that Earnhardt died when they saw the ambulance move so slowly). The video is listed in the links below.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I bought this thing. I knew absolutely nothing about NASCAR, and ended up with a Pace Car from the Daytona 500. Now, I have had it on a few tracks before races, parades, and shows, and I've met several drivers, and I had the car signed by Dale Jarrett in July 2005.
I have been to Daytona, and have met and worked with many people researching the history of this car. It has been a lot of fun.
One other cool thing is the car IS a Pontiac Grand Prix GTP, a really awesome car in its' own right. Now I know why these cars have such a loyal following. They are an absolute blast to drive! (Just visit "ClubGP.com" or "grandprix.net" to see how much of a following these cars have. ClubGP has over 20,000 members... Why can't some company make a 97-03 Grand Prix DIE-CAST?).
I am very interested in hearing from people with other Pace Cars, especially anyone near Chicago. I recently found out that one of the 24 white Pontiac Grand Prix GTP NASCAR Pace Cars from 2000 is in the same County that I live in. A friend of mine told me about it because it is his cousins car!
BELOW... Here is a photo of the car on display at MIS for the 2005 Nextel Cup Series GFS 400. Proudly wearing the NEEPERS!!!
This was our first NASCAR event with the Pace Car, and my first NASCAR event since I was a kid. We did a pre-race lap before the Busch Series Cabelas 250, and before the NEXTEL CUP Gordon Food Service Marketplace 400 races on Aug 21-22, 2004.
The laps were run with the "Pace Car Club of America".
ABOVE... Lining up for the Pre Race Parade Lap at MIS before the Cup race on Aug 22, 2004. This was before I got the Concept Neeper SHADOW wheels back on the car!!!
Personally, I'd like to get a 1979-1981 Daytona 500 Edition Trans Am to drive around a few tracks!
By the way, Hot Wheels ROCKS! We love you AMY!
Charitable Work: This is the best part of owning this car! So far I have used the car for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and we sold some "Victory Junction NASCAR DAY" Checkered Flag Ribbon Pins at the Michigan race. I am working on forming a new club which I will provide a link below when ready, and I want the club to be very involved in charity work. I have also supported some local charities by letting them use the car in parades. I personally support the following charities as well, and would be willing to attend any events that support these charities:
DAYTONA 500 PACE CAR REUNION AT THE 2008 DAYTONA 500
GAUGING INTEREST IN A PACE CAR REUNION FOR THE 50TH DAYTONA 500 IN 2008... IF INTERESTED EMAIL ME...
VERY VERY TENTATIVE DETAILS HERE:
2008 Pace Car REUNION 50th DAYTONA 500
CHECK OUT JIM SMITHS 2000 DAYTONA 500 PACE CARS
JIM SMITHS CARS. He actually has two of the four cars now (the two display cars)... He is crazier than me!
LINKS WITHIN THIS SITE:
RESEARCH RESEARCH I am still researching the history of this car and other DAYTONA 500 Pace Cars. There are some stories we are trying to document!
FAQS FAQS And a little info on how to take care of these beasts
PICTURES PICTURES I just figured out how this photo album works, so I am uploading many photos now. I will try to organize them later!!!
PRE RACE LAP EVENTS AT NASCAR RACES PRERACEEVENTS
THANK YOU THANK YOU I started out clueless, but a lot of people helped me learn about Pace Cars!
HISTORY An outline of the known history of this car
DALE JARRETT SIGNING THE CAR How we got the dash signed by Dale Jarrett!!!
LINKS OUTSIDE OF THIS SITE
An article on the 2000 DAYTONA 500 PACE CAR EDITION Motor Matters article
OFFICIAL PACE CAR PHOTOTHIS PAGE HAS AN AMAZING PHOTO OF THE PACE CARS LEADING THE FIELD
Article by Tony Bolick about Earnhardts' two Pace Car rides Earnhardt at DAYTONA the night before he died
Pace Picante Sweepstakes winner A lucky fan gets to ride in the Pace Car to start the race!
How the RED TAZ changed the collector DIECAST world The RED TAZ LIVED AND DIED FOR MARKETING
FOX TRIBUTE VIDEO At the end of this short video, you can see the SILVER GRAND PRIX PACE CAR at the crash site
Leading a Corvette Club around the track prior to the Rolex 24 hour race during the 2001 Speedweeks.
ABOVE This PACE CAR on the DAYTONA infield. Date unknown, but it still has the 2000 DAYTONA 500 logos, so I believe this may have been during the 2000 SPEEDWEEKS.
BELOW The aftermath of the tragedy on February 18, 2001.
See the video in the links section for a better look at the Silver Grand Prix at the crash site
If anyone has any pictures or information about these Grand Prix Pace Cars at DAYTONA during the 2000 and 2001 seasons, please contact me. Thank you so much.
Our incredible weekend at DAYTONA for the 2006 DAYTONA 500
OK. HERE IS SOME UPDATED AND NEW INFORMATION.
oN THE WEEKEND OF THE 2006 DAYTONA 500, WE WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO GET A BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR OF THE DAYTONA ARCHIVES MAINTAINED BY ISC PUBLICATIONS. THIS TOUR ANSWERED MANY QUESTIONS I HAD ABOUT THESE PACE CARS, BUT IT ALSO LEAD TO MORE QUESTIONS.
FIRST OF ALL, A BIG THANK YOU TO ALEXIS AT DAYTONA ARCHIVES. SHE IS A BEAUTIFUL PERSON, AND I AM FOREVER IN HER DEBT.
So we get to DAYTONA, and head to the Archives Office. There was so much more to this place than we expected. The Archives were in a low key building hidden behind a gated area. Basically, this is where NASCAR has it's own NASCAR collection, and of course, what a collection it was.
Outside, they had the four UNION 76 Globes that were photographer stands in each corner of Daytona International Speedway. I would love to have one of those at home!
We also had our pictures taken with some of the Corvette Pace Cars used for races that weekend, and they let us turn on the lights, and start up the cars.
This is where things got real interesting. A gentleman there named HOWARD is THE GUY who maintains the Pace Cars (graphics, lights, etc), and he shed a lot of light on how things work with these cars. He said the Budweiser SHOOTOUT and HERSHEYS KISSABLES 300 Pace Cars would be for sale on Monday, as soon as they stripped all of the lights off. I will have pics posted soon of me and my friends in the cars.
Then it was into the archives. In a word... WOW.
The walls were covered with memorabilia dating back to the 40's. Photos, trophies, the lighting switchboard for DAYTONA SPEEDWAY, just tons of items. Flags, race suits, cameras, helmets, gloves, tires, a PROTOTYPE DAYTONA Harley with 1/10 of a mile on the odometer. The last Winston Cup Trophy.
Then there were the files. Cabinets full of driver applications, driver information, car records, everything. Going back to the 40's.
There were a couple of vaults also, one for photos, and one for film and video. We went into the photo vault, and looked through the book for the 2000 DAYTONA 500. There were so many pictures of the Pace Cars, and I ordered several copies.
Then we went back outside, and looked around the parking lot. I noticed something that caught my eye. When I was at DAYTONA USA in January 2005, I noticed a Collectors Edition TA in the parking lot. I really did not think much of it. But then I noticed one in the parking lot there. A yellow 2002 CETA, parked next to a yellow 05 Corvette. There was also a 1999 White Trans Am, and a silver 2000 Grand Prix. I realized immediately that these were PACE CARS... DAYTONA 500 PACE CARS!!!!
I guess DAYTONA IS KEEPING SOME OF THESE CARS AFTER ALL. The 1999 Trans Am still had the graphics, but the other cars DID NOT. In fact, the Grand Prix was REALLY INTERESTING. IT WAS A DAYTONA 500 PACE CAR EDITION. IT HAD NO SUNROOF. SUNROOFS WERE STANDARD EQUIPMENT ON THE DAYTONA 500 PACE CAR EDITIONS THAT YEAR, EXCEPT FOR THE FEW SPECIALLY ORDERED FOR THE RACE, AS NASCAR RULES DID NOT ALLOW SUNROOFS ON THE ACTUAL PACE CARS. But this gets all out weird. THERE WERE TWO CARS USED IN THE RACE, AND TWO DISPLAY CARS. MINE WAS IN THE RACE, AND WE BELIEVE JIM SMITHS CARS WERE BOTH DISPLAY CARS. SO WE WERE REALLY CURIOUS ABOUT THE 2000 DAYTONA 500 CAR SITTING THERE. IT HAD NO GRAPHICS, BUT IT ALSO HAD NO LIGHTS. IN FACT, IT LOOKS LIKE THE CAR NEVER HAD STROBE LIGHTS! THERE WERE NO CUTS IN THE ROOF RAILS, AND NO HOLES IN THE HEADLIGHTS OR FOG LIGHTS. THIS WAS DEFINITELY A 2000 DAYTONA 500 EDITION THOUGH (HAD THE 1 OF 2000 PLAQUE), AND IT DID NOT HAVE A SUNROOF. I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THE CAR THOUGH, AND I WOULD TAKE BETTER CARE OF IT! THE CARS HAD A THICK LAYER OF DUST ON THEM.
Then it was on to DAYTONA USA, which IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
The Archives were not. I WILL WRITE ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE THAT HAPPENED LATER.
HERE ARE SOME PICS FROM THIS TRIP. I WILL SORT THROUGH THEM LATER.