CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The great American race needs a great American pace car and Gary Artis has one of the best corvette pace car collections around.
It all begins with his 1998 C5.
"This one actually started my pace car passion going back in 2001,” smiled Artis. “I guess I got the fever for mid-life crisis and actually found this car on my birthday when I turned 40.”
What made this one special was the wild paint job. Some people either love it or hate it and he fell in love with it. They even had special mats that were embroidered with the Indy 500 logo.
Right next to it is the GT 1 edition made to commemorate Corvette's racing success. It also makes a nice ride for his wife.
There is one 1996 Dodge Viper, the pace car for the 1996 Indy 500. Buying it wasn't the problem but driving it from Oakland, California to North Carolina was. He picked it up on a Monday and made it back home Saturday. Cramped quarters made the ride rough but it didn’t stop him from opening the car up on the great plains a few times.
Going back farther is Artis' garage is a 1971 Dodge Challenger used in the 55th Indy 500, one of 61 known to exist and the only pace car to ever wreck.
Gary even found the first Corvette he ever drove as a kid but had to touch it up with a new paint job.
All this speed can tire a person out, so to unwind Gary climbs into a 57 Chevrolet and watches movies in his personal drive-in theatre.