Jim Harbaugh to drive Indianapolis 500 pace car
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jim Harbaugh insists he will coachable when it comes to the tricks of driving the Indianapolis 500 pace car this weekend.
The San Francisco 49ers’ coach will return to the city where he spent four years as a player to take part in the Indy 500 festivities. Track officials made the later-than-usual announcement that the former NFL quarterback would be behind the pace car wheel in a news release sent out early Wednesday morning.
Asked how fast he would allow himself to go, or whether he had a mph limit in mind, Harbaugh said his speed was still to be determined — a game-time decision of sorts.
“I’m awaiting my coaching and instructions, and then ready for practice,” Harbaugh said after a 49ers organized team activity Wednesday.
Harbaugh has strong ties to the Indianapolis area. He was quarterback of the Colts for four seasons, earning the nickname “Captain Comeback,” and is a part-time owner of Indianapolis-based Panther Racing. JR Hildebrand, who starts 10th, and Townsend Bell, who starts 22nd, both drive for Panther.
“As the No. 1 fan of the Rockford Files, to follow in the footsteps of James Garner, who did it three times, and also Morgan Freeman, and Colin Powell, and Chuck Yeager and so many others, it’s just a real honor and a privilege,” Harbaugh said. “I’m going to do my best to do a great job at it.”
Last September, Harbaugh had an IndyCar racer parked next to the practice fields at 49ers headquarters.
Harbaugh led the 49ers to the NFC championship last season but lost 34-31 in the Super Bowl to a Baltimore Ravens team coached by his older brother, John. Harbaugh’s brother-in-law is Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean.
“Really excited. I was really excited just even being considered when they told me that they were considering me,” Harbaugh said. “To actually be doing it, I’ve already had a couple of dreams about it. I know I’m going to be excited and nervous. I’m anticipating getting there and getting some practice in for it.”
Harbaugh won’t try to bring the Corvette back to the Bay Area as his own.
“That car goes to the winner of the race,” Harbaugh said. “The winner of the race is always awarded the pace car at the Indy 500.”
AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.