If you follow NASCAR or any other type of car racing, then you may already be familiar with the Indy 500’s longstanding tradition of introducing a different pace car just about every year to kick off the race. The official pace car of 1993 was the “new” Chevy Camaro Z28, which was selected to celebrate the launch of its fourth-generation model.
The Z28 wasn’t the only Chevrolet vehicle to be put on a pedestal this particular year. A special Indianapolis 500-edition shortbed C1500 pickup truck was also released to the public to commemorate the company’s participation in the big race. Only 1,534 of them were built and sold, and all of them sported the same very distinctive two-tone black and white paintjob adorned with multicolor logos and graphics to signify it as being part of the limited-edition run.
While these race-inspired Silverado pickups were hot commodities at the time of their initial release, they have since drifted into the realm of rarities. Vintage, limited-edition badged trucks tend to gain their own cult following these days, and this Indy 500 specimen is no different. Nostalgia rules the marketplace in today’s market, and nothing screams early ’90s vibes quite like colorful, striped graphics on an OBSChevy truck body.
THE STARS ALIGN
These trucks pop up for sale every now and then in various conditions and price points, but they still remain somewhat hard to find below market value. Ty Zito of Prairieville, Louisiana, has been a fan of the Indy 500 Chevy truck for years but has always been hesitant to pull the trigger and purchase one. These pickups are sometimes placed on the chopping block by various automotive auction houses, but every now and then, one will surface on Craigslist for a steal. Ty had always kept his eyes on sales listings of these trucks, but having the disposable funds ready to strike when one pops up, as well as it being close enough to pick up, have proved to be the make-or-break factors of scoring one.
After years of searching, however, the stars aligned for Ty in Owensboro, Kentucky. An Indy truck was listed for sale at a price he was willing to pay. And while the drive was a little too far for him at that time, he lucked out when Chris Stafford of C/K Syndicate agreed to go fetch the truck on his behalf. Game on!
START WITH SUSPENSION
While the truck was in fair enough condition, it was in need of some serious TLC to bring back the luster of its glory days. Before anything was buffed or polished though, Ty first started to analyze what could be done to refresh the Chevy’s suspension.
Chris Stafford once again offered to be of service for this phase of the rebuild. He welded a notch under the bed before installing a coilover conversion kit and narrowed A-arms from Stone Fab, which would allow easy compatibility with front Aldan coilover units. A Belltech flip kit, sway bar, and Aldan adjustable shocks are responsible for dropping the rear to give the C1500 a much lower, aggressive stance for a modernized, custom appearance.
While upgrading the truck’s chassis, Chris also upgraded the front brake system with drilled and slotted rotors from Little Shop MFG. He went with the company’s rear disc brake conversion and master cylinder swap kit for all-around performance stopping power. To capitalize on the truck’s fully revamped chassis, a staggered set of Intro ID313 wheels and Lionhart tires were mixed in to give Ty’s Indy 500 pickup the updated, sporty appearance it so desperately deserved.
REWORK AND REFRESH
To keep the Chevy as original as possible where it counted the most, Ty kept the factory-equipped 350 V-8, but he had Joe Gerbitz and Mikey Stinson of 3rd Coast Customs perform a simple engine rebuild while cleaning it up cosmetically for good measure. New valve covers and an air cleaner were included in the cleanup process, and to add some extra performance gains, Brent Kelly at Exhaust Pros was asked to fabricate a custom 3-inch exhaust system. Other than that, the engine bay was kept relatively untouched, which is really all that was necessary to help preserve this historical pickup project.
Next, T.J. Maples and Joe Gerbitz of 3rd Coast gave the Indy 500 Chevy’s original paint a welcomed refresh. They also reworked the OEM grille and bumpers and replaced the truck’s lighting housings to give the Chevy a spruced-up shine from front to back. Again, there was no need to do anything more than simply restore the truck’s OG façade as its iconic factory style is what has made it as desirable as it has been for nearly 30 years.
When it came time to address the Chevy’s interior, Ty treaded lightly as to not destroy the natural styling within the cab. While he had no reason to suffer with the dated cloth upholstery and cracked plastics that do deteriorate over the years, Ty wished to create a familiar environment that even the strictest of purists could appreciate. Since Ty’s truck was equipped with a bench seat (only 414 of the 1,534 run were outfitted with factory bucket seats), Lawrence Bergeron of LB Upholstery suggested swapping the worn out bench with a brand new one from Snowden. He covered it in gray leather and suede upholstery that closely resembled the old material’s color. The door panels were also reupholstered to match.
Chris Stafford clocked back in for work inside of the cab by first installing a new dash and then creating custom kick panels that house Powerbass component speakers. A Sony head unit and a combination of amps and subs were also wired up to give the single cab a robust, well-rounded sound signal. While he was at it, Chris replaced the headliner and made new visors to complete the fully renovated interior space. It now looks as factory as you can get save for the Billet Specialties steering wheel and Dakota Digital VHX gauges—but even those blend in all too well.
It’s always cool to see these Indy 500 trucks pop up at shows, and it’s even better when the right sets of hands not only expertly restore them but also go the extra mile by adding subtle custom touches to elevate their original style and performance. Ty’s Chevy maintains the classic Indy truck appearance but has gained heightened appeal with its lower, more capable suspension, premium wheels, and its clean-as-hell interior space. The rebuilt 350 and restored exterior ensure that this commemorative edition Chevy will remain on the road and stay relevant for a long time to come.
1993 Chevy 1500 Indy pace truck
1993 Chevy V-8 350ci
Engine buildup/modifications by Joe Gerbitz & Mikey Stinson
Comps Cams camshaft
Ceramic coated headers
Custom 3-inch exhaust system by Brent Kelly at Exhaust Pros, McComb, MS
Edelbrock air cleaner
New valve covers
1993 Monster 4L60 transmission by 3rd Coast Customs, Mt. Hermon, LA
Chassis & Suspension
Frame modification by Chris Stafford at C/K Syndicate, Tylertown, MS
Stock 1993 chassis
Weld-in notch under bed
Stone Fab coilover conversion w/ narrowed A-Arms and front sway bar
Aldan American coilovers up front, rear adjustable shocks
Belltech flip kit and rear sway bar
Rearend narrowed 3 inches by Jeremy at BH Fabrication
Wheels, Tires & Brakes
22-inch Intro ID313 wheels
285/35/22 Lionhart LH-TEN tires
Little Shop MFG drilled and slotted front brakes, rear disc brake conversion, NBS master cylinder swap
Body & Paint
Summit White and Tuxedo Black by T.J. Maples & Joe Gerbitz @ 3rd Coast Customs
Slosh Tubz faux metal wheel tubs and fillers
OEM grille and bumpers restored
Classic Parts of America stock style replacement headlights
Interior & Stereo
Shop: Lawrence Bergeron @ LB Upholstery, Kentwood, LA
Bench seat from Snowden custom seats
Gray leather and suede upholstery
New dash, dyed panels, custom kick panels and stereo install by Chris Stafford @ C/K Garage
Dakota Digital VHX gauges
Billet Specialties steering wheel
Sony head unit
Powerbass component speakers, subwoofers and amps
When considering a lowering kit for your 1988-1998 C1500 or (OBS GM Truck), you’ll find there are quite a few options out there. Most companies offer parts individually, so you can get creative with parts combinations in order to get your desired results. In our case, we wanted to try and get this job done with performance and ultimate ride quality in mind. Being that Belltech Suspension was a huge part of the sport truck movement back in the ’90s, the company knows a thing or two about OBS GM trucks. With that said, naturally they were our first call when we decided to tackle the suspension on our 1990 C1500.
We decided to utilize the 3-inch drop spring and paired those with the 2-inch drop spindle up front. To achieve our desired drop out back, we went with a flip kit. The flip kit is also adjustable drop because it comes with new rear shackle mounts that when paired with the flip kit will yield either a 7 inch or 8 inch. We topped everything off with Street Performance Shocks/Shock extenders and front and rear sway bar kit.
Belltech lowering kits include all the parts and pieces you need to achieve not only the look you want, but the alignment, and performance and safety you need. These complete lowering kits are your all-in-one-box solution, providing you with all the necessary parts to lower your truck. Made up of a variety of combinations as well as all the installation and alignment pieces necessary to achieve the listed lowering, choosing your kit has never been simpler. And the install is even easier! Let’s get started.
A couple of issues back, we introduced you to not only our latest project truck known as Artemis but also a new tech team helping out on this year’s OBS build. SaltWorks Fab in Myakka City, Florida, is known for building some amazing hotrods and trophy-winning showpieces for customers. With way more expendable income than we do, so having the crew take time out of their busy schedule to help us document Artemis’ RideTech suspension swap is an honor we are proud to boast about. So, if you missed the February ’21 issue where we documented the front suspension install, we suggest you head over to www.engagedmediamags.com to buy a copy while you can. In this issue, we tackle the rear of our 1998 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE. A C-notch install and a lot of sweet-looking, well-engineered suspension parts.
We said it in the last issue, but it stands repeating. This is a completely bolt-on air-ride suspension for ’88-’98 Chevy/GMC 2WD trucks.
No cutting the bed floor and no removing the fender liners. Just a C-notch and a quick shave of the bed brace. All the permanent modifications that needed to be made. They’re nothing that would stop us from putting it back to stock one day if we wanted to. Which is what we were looking for in an air suspension system. This Ridetech system also has electronic ride height sensors that set your ride height to whatever PSI you want. This way, even if you have a leak. The system will correct it at the push of a button until you can pull off and make a repair.
The final piece to the new suspension puzzle is picking a wheel and tire package. For project Artemis, we wanted a setup that would allow us to have a super low stance without cutting anything and a decent ride on 40-series tires. If you have any experience with air suspension, county roads and 35-series tires, you will more than likely understand our desires for this driver. The wheels are staggered fit, 20-inch aluminum wheels from US Magswith a width of 8 inches up front, and 9.5 inches in the back. Having a wider wheel in the back not only looks cool, but it also stretches the 40-series tire just a bit to give up some extra clearance out back when cruising low and slow. Now let’s check out the steps to installing the rear of this extremely well-engineered air suspension system for GMT400 trucks.
This is a completely bolt-on air-ride suspension for ’88-’98 Chevy/GMC 2WD trucks. No cutting the bed floor and no removing the fender liners.