Three-time winner Helio Castroneves made the announcement during Thursday’s “GMA” broadcast.
The pace car limits the speed of competing cars on a racetrack in the case of a caution period such as a crash or obstruction on the track. During a caution period the safety car enters the track ahead of the leader.
Racers are not allowed to pass the pace car or other competitors during a caution period, and the pace car leads the field at a pre-determined safe speed. At the end of the caution period, the pace car leaves the track and the competitors may resume racing.
Roberts, a former college basketball player and ESPN anchor, becomes only the second woman to lead the field of 33 around the historic racetrack. Model Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp, the wife of Indiana rocker John Mellencamp, had the honor in 2001.