The Importance of the Pace Car
By Penelope Trent - January 30, 2023

The pace car, which regulates the field’s speed at the start of each NASCAR race and during caution periods, is an essential component of every race. As new production consumer automobiles given by the manufacturer for marketing purposes rather than racing-specific vehicles, pace cars differ in appearance from the race cars utilized in NASCAR. Chevrolet’s Corvette and other well-known car brands have served as NASCAR pace cars. Ads for the race’s sponsor and the name and date of the event are frequently displayed on the exterior of pace vehicles.

Before the start of races, even during caution periods, a NASCAR pace car’s primary responsibility is maintaining the field’s proper speed and position. The pace vehicle moves off at a consistent pace ahead of the field. Following the pace car in the sequence, they were in when the caution was issued mandatory for all motorists. Since passing is only permitted under green-flag conditions, keeping your place is crucial for the fairness of the race. When racers see the pace car ahead, they are reminded to maintain their position.

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Another crucial aspect is the pace car’s role as an enforcer on pit roads during races. The pit road is where racers can pause in the middle of the race for car maintenance and fuel. At the start of the race, the pace car drives the cars through the pit road to demonstrate the required speed. This establishes the pit road speed limit. The drivers can then make sure their RPM lights are tuned correctly. Once the race has begun, race control will electronically track the speed of the vehicles on the pit road and impose any required penalties.

During caution periods, pace cars are also crucial for drivers. Caution flags are typically displayed around six and nine times per race, making them widespread during competition. The pace car maintains track positions while the pack is led slower during caution periods. Drivers can travel behind the track of the pace car at a slower speed, which enables them to maintain the temperature of their tires, engine systems, and fluids before a race and during a period of caution.