500 winners: Florence, Jim and us.

I’d like to add one brief A&E thought to all of this weekend’s Indy 500 coverage: Two of the reasons why it’s still possible to love the race–even if you aren’t an open-wheel racing fan–are Jim Nabors and Florence Henderson.

That doesn’t mean you have to be fans of Nabors and Henderson. Or Ruth Buzzi for that matter.

What it means is that it should be a point of pride for Hoosiers that the 500 stays connected to these folks despite the fact that they haven’t really done anything to land on the cultural radar for decades. (Okay, so Henderson was in Weird Al Yankovic’s “Amish Paradise” video.)

Unlike Miss America, which famously ditched longtime host Burt Parks in 1979 (in favor of younger blood Ron Ely) or Group W, which canned “The Mike Douglas Show” in 1980 (in favor of younger blood John Davidson, who crashed and burned as a talk-show host), the 500 has continued to dance with the ones it came with.

And the crowd reacts accordingly, treating the Brady mom and our pal Gomer as visiting family.

It’s great to have all the “Dancing with the Stars” dancing stars in town, but they’ll come and go. Nabors and Henderson, on the other hand, are important. To us.

Which is as it should be.

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