It’s a pretty unique honor to be named the safety or pace car for a race, and automakers have really stepped up to the occasion.
These decorated, eye-catching rides pop out onto the track at the beginning of a race, or during a yellow or caution flag, when the course needs to be cleaned up from an incident. While the cars on this list are pretty badass, sometimes pace cars can be a bit of a dud (we’re looking at you, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry).
Here’s a list of the real badass safety cars out there.
Volvo V60 Polestar WTCC
There isn’t a safer car company than Volvo, so of course the World Touring Car Championship is using a new V60 for its pace car. And, naturally, since it’s a Polestar model, it’s all done up in Rebel Blue, the only acceptable color for a Polestar car.
BMW M2 MotoGP Safety Car
While it’s easy to forget that BMW also makes motorcycles, this MotoGP safety car helps remind us of the brand’s other vehicles. This M2, used for MotoGP duty, sports a number of M performance upgrades over the production M2 like an exhaust, coilovers and prototype carbon ceramic brakes.
Mercedes-AMG GT S Formula One Safety Car
The Mercedes-AMG GT S is a borderline exotic car with a three-second zero-to-60-mph time, thanks to its awesome 4.0-liter twin turbo V8. It looks great and sounds even better. What else could you ask for in a Formula 1 pace car?
BMW i8 Formula E Safety Car
Formula E is a relatively new series and one way to drum up interest is with cool cars like the BMW i8 pace car. As a plug-in hybrid, it fits right in with the electrified theme of the racing series, and looks super futuristic, too.
Acura NSX Pikes Peak Pace Car
Another hybrid, the NSX is a high-performance exotic, made right here in the U.S. Driven during the Pikes Peak hill climb by the Honda America’s head of PR, Sage Marie, the NSX pace car was fitted with 24 cameras to provide a cool 360-degree video of the challenging course.
Batman’s Tumbler NASCAR
The Dark Knight apparently loves himself some racing, as this iteration of the Batmobile showed up at Michigan International Speedway for the “Batman Begins 400” in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The Caped Crusader even made the announcement for drivers to start their engines at the beginning of the race.
Dodge Viper Indy 500
The Indy 500 is a historic race, and for Dodge, it was the perfect place to showcase its Corvette fighter. The Viper debuted in 1990 as the pace car to the race, driven by legendary racer and designer Caroll Shelby. It returned again in 1996 with the second-generation model, driven by automotive big-wig Bob Lutz.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Indy 500
We can’t leave out the Corvette on a list of awesome pace cars. Last year’s Indy 500 was paced by the awesome Z06, a car that uses a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with 650-hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.
Lexus RC F V8 Supercars
The Australian V8 Supercars series uses the new Lexus RC-F as its pace car. The RC-F features unbelievably aggressive styling and a 5.0-liter V8 engine that makes 467 horsepower. All that juice is sent to the rear wheels.
Lexus LFA Grand Prix of Long Beach
My personal favorite is this Lexus LFA Pace Car that was used in the 2011 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Possibly one of the most expensive cars to be transformed into a Pace car, the LFA cost more than $300,000 when new. It used a 4.8-liter V10 engine that not only sounded amazing, but put out 552 horsepower, too. It’s a shame Toyota isn’t still using this thing for the Grand Prix of Long Beach.