Exactly what form the 50th Anniversary Corvette would assume was settled once and for all on April 10, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when some of Chevrolet's top brass and the IMS management team, led by Tony George, unveiled both the 50th Anniversary Edition coupe and convertible and the Official Pace Car for the 86th running of the Indy 500.

The fact that the 50th Vette would pace the 500 miler was no surprise-we'd been informed of that back in January and broke the new, without attribution, in May's "CURRENTS." But while there were plenty of rumors, we didn't have any factual details about the 50th Anniversary Edition, and none that enlightened us about the Indy 500 Pace Car for 2002.

Perhaps the best thing would be to start off with what the 50th Anniversary Special Edition (and the rest of the '03 Corvette lineup) isn't. There is no ber-Vette, no testosterone-drenched 7L 500-plus horsepower Viper killer, for '03. Nor is there any significant body or trim change for the Corvette's 50th. The '03s represent a cautious and evolutionary move forward.

First and foremost is, of course, RPO 1SC, the 50th Anniversary Special Edition package, which will be offered on both coupes and convertibles, but not on Z06s. The most prominent feature of the 50th Anniversary package is the special paint, an intense red that closely resembles an old-fashioned candy-apple red when applied over a heavily metallic-gold base. The color, aptly named Anniversary Red, really needs to be seen to be appreciated. Thankfully, it is definitely NOT a Cadillac Red as was rumored. The Anniversary Red, which will be offered only as part of the 50th Anniversary package and only in 2003, is complimented by the 50th-only, one-year-only Shale interior (and matching Shale top on Anniversary convertibles), and champagne painted (very similar in hue to the finish on the optional magnesium wheels) standard five-spoke wheels with 50th emblem center caps. All Anniversary Editions will have unique 50th badges on each front fender, in roughly the same spot as the Z06's fender emblems, embroidered 50th logos on the seatbacks and carpet mats, and new padded door armrests and grips.

Also part of the 1SC package will be, as Corvette Assistant Brand ManagerHarlan Charles phrased it, the "high content options," and the new for '03 Magnetic Selective Ride Control system, a new continuously variable real-time damping (more on this later).

The Indy 500 Pace Car for 2002 is the '03 50th Anniversary Special Edition-no same model year as the race (as in the prior four times Corvette has paced the 500), and no special "Official Pace Car" package, although Brand Manager Rick Baldick hinted that the "Pace Car" graphics package might be available over-the-counter later this year for owners of 50th Anniversary '03s. Regarding Corvettes participation, for the fifth time, in the Indianapolis 500 Baldick stated, "This year's Memorial Day classic will showcase America's favorite sports car at the greatest spectacle in racing. It will also be a milestone event for the history books, as it signals the start of a year-long celebration leading up to Corvette's 50th anniversary in 2003."

Tony George, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway added to those sentiments, "The Indianapolis 500 and Chevrolet have had a longtime relationship. It's an honor to have the 50th Anniversary Edition Corvette make its world debut at the head of the pack and to have Chevrolet return to open wheel racing with its new Chevy Indy V-8 for the Indy Racing League."