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You could use just about anything as a safety car, but these five aren't just any cars.
You don’t need a high-performance sportscar to set the pace at most racing series… but it couldn’t hurt, now could it? Of course not. Because these cars have the kind of power and speed to keep a roaring field of racecars at bay when the situation requires it. Our latest Top 5 list is made up of five supercars (or cars with supercar performance, anyway) that have been drafted into service by one racing series or another. Each comes from a different manufacturer and is (or has recently been) used in a different racing series.
We start with the Mac Daddy of all racing series – Formula One – and the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT that serves as its official safety car. AMG has provided F1 with its safety cars for sixteen years now, setting the pace at headline grands prix as well as their various support races. Driven by former DTM pilot Bernd Maylander, the GT replaced the previous SLS AMG that served as the previous F1 pace car and the SL63 that came before it. Mercedes also furnishes a C63 AMG wagon to serve as the official medical car with paramedics on standby should anything go wrong.
The most recent safety car is the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which was just announced days ago as the pace car (as they’re called Stateside) for the upcoming 91st running of the Indianapolis 500. The new Stingray is just the latest, but arguably the greatest, in a long line of Indy pace cars that has included 24 Chevrolets, among them eleven Corvettes, dating back to to the original Sting Ray that paced the race 1978. This particular example has been decked out in Laguna Blue with Indy 500 logos and the requisite safety equipment to bring it up to spec.
The premier two-wheeled racing series in the world uses BMWs as its safety cars, but while the Bavarian automaker doesn’t make any actual supercars, per se, some of its vehicles do offer supercar levels of performance. The latest in a long line of spindle-badged MotoGP safety cars is the M6. BMW pressed the coupe version into service for last year’s championship, and replaced it with the four-door Gran Coupe for this season. Both pack the same 552-horsepower twin-turbo V8 and all the necessary upgrades, including strobe lights, new spoilers and BMW’s trademark teal, blue and red stripe livery.
Germany’s popular DTM touring car series uses a variety of safety cars provided by the manufacturers competing in the championship, but the most exciting used recently is surely the Audi R8. Ingolstadt’s mid-engined supercar required little in the way of modifications to keep the pace with the high-powered racing machinery, which could be why the R8 has also been used as the safety car for other type of races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the ADAC GT Masters. Short of a Ferrari or Koenigsegg, this is about as exotic a safety car as you're likely to find.
Our list ends off with one of the most intriguing safety cars we’ve come across in recent years. The Wiesmann MF5 GT was rolled out as the official safety car for the FIA GT Championship in 2009, decked out in yellow with black wheels, brightwork and decals. The MF5 version packed the V10 engine from the M5 when BMW was still making it, providing all the power the Wiesmann needed to stay out ahead of the GT1-spec machinery, and managed to out-retro even the Gullwing Mercedes with which we started this list. Whether it's the fastest safety car or not, it's surely the rarest.