VM: So, design-wise, the new car is more tied into the SSR-but not completely. Where did the new design come from?
Kip: It has somewhat of a relationship with the SSR in terms of American flames and the gradation of white to yellow to dark to blue. As opposed to doing a classic flame job, we built it on two ideas. The first one was scallops, which are also used on custom cars and motorcycles. They're still pretty popular today. Secondly, and more importantly, [was] the image of something entering the atmosphere. For example, I once saw a picture of the space shuttle entering the atmosphere where the nose was glowing, and it was going this outrageous amount of speed. This led us to do the most elaborate paint scheme we've done to date. When you look at the car, as I know you did outside, you see the yellow, and the metallic yellow, and the copper, and the red, and the blue. It was the most expensive paint job we've ever done because, as you saw, each one of those colors is masked and painted. So it's not only the most creative from a design standpoint, it's also the most elaborate from a paint-scheme standpoint. And I think from the grandstands, when you see that vehicle going around on a sunny day, those colors will blur together.
VM: When you were looking for the inspiration for the "rocket reentry" look for the '06 Daytona Pace Car, were you looking back at any old space footage?
Kip: We were searching in every direction. We tried some real graphic Americana, which was real abstract. We tried something involving the Statue of Liberty. We tried a lot with the waving flag. We tried some really abstract red, white, and blue to give it an American theme without really doing an American flag literally. We even tried some military themes. Everything we did was based on America, because this is an American sports car, and I think the Corvette is the American dream for a lot of people. So the themes we explored were a very wide variety of images.
Jim Brinkerhoff, one of our designers, did one that was similar to what we ended up with; it was the one we continued to evolve. I kept seeing that image, and it was like an ink-blot test. Everybody sees something different. And I said the thing that I'm attracted to with this thing is that my mind kept remembering a shot of the space shuttle somewhere. And the more we evolved it, the more popular it became. And when it came down to selecting the final direction we all said, "Let's do this. It's just so different from what we've ever done." It was that feeling of outrageous speed. Whether it is a meteor or a space shuttle entering the atmosphere, or the fluid dynamics we often see with computer-generated aerodynamic studies, it just had that image of something at an incredibly high rate of speed. And that's why I have to say I am very pleased to hear that even standing still it looks like it's going fast. That's the subliminal image that I guess I responded to, and that's the subliminal image that we want others to have-something moving at an outrageous speed. That's why I can't wait to see it pace the Daytona 500 . . . because I think what's going to happen, in theory, is that all the colors are going to blur together from white to yellow.
VM: Obviously, the design wasn't born overnight. What went into GM's final decision to pick this one?
Kip: I'd like to say, without exaggeration, that 65-80 different paint schemes and illustrations were thrown on a wall, and we always came back to this one. And when I invited our Vice President of Design, Ed Welburn, and Design Director Ken Parkinson over to the board to see what we were doing, they immediately went to that one. It was, by far, the most different from all the other directions we were taking. We had everything from traditionally what you'd expect to very avant garde. In the end, I think some people may find [this design] too avant garde, but it's our responsibility as designers to stretch the envelope and think outside the box.