The Ford Mustang had a new design for the year of 1979, and Ford looked for anyway possible to promote the new Pony. After negotiations with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was agreed that the 1979 Mustang would become the official Pace Car for the 63rd Annual Indianapolis 500 mile race. Because of the major publicity gained from the Indy 500, Ford set out 10,478 replicas of the Pace Car available to the public.
The engine in the actual pace car featured a host of performance parts and was built by renowned engine tuner Jack Roush. A hot engine was necessary because the pace car had to fulfill a requirement of accelerating from a steady speed of 90 MPH midway through the fourth turn to 110 MPH by the time it pulled off the track and into pit road. Naturally the brakes were uprated too, using semi-metallic linings from the Fairmont Police Package.