NBC pairs Peyton Manning and IndyCars as Hoosier icons

No matter what you think of the IndyCar Series, the open-wheel race car is still synonymous with Indianapolis. I was reminded of this Sunday night.

During the introduction to NBC’s Sunday night football, various NFL all-stars were shown on screen etched in a landscape symbolic to their team’s home.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was shown dropping back and then flinging a long pass. That was less impressive to me than the fact he was shown standing on the front stretch of a race track which looked an awful lot like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And in semi-ghostly, shadow-like fashion, a handful of IndyCars zoomed by as Manning launched his pass. The image of the Indianapolis 500 was unmistakable for tens of millions of television households nationwide to see.

The fact that NBC (which broadcasts no IndyCar races and has no interest in the open-wheel series) still thinks enough of IndyCar to put it in its broadcast says something. Yes, I know there's Comcast-NBC-Versus connection. And Versus is the cable channel where most IndyCar races are aired. But to think that influenced NBC's NFL football game promo is a bit of a stretch.

There have been a number of complaints about some of the series’ recent struggles. And there are a considerable number of race fans still upset about the split from and subsequent death of CART/Champ Car. Those same folks have not been shy about wishing death on the IndyCar Series.

Despite all that, Indiana and Indianapolis are and probably forever will be linked to IndyCar racing.

Regardless of what you think of past or present IndyCar series leadership, I have to believe most rational people would conclude it’s preferable for this city and state that IndyCar succeed.

I’m still not sure what to think of the image in the same pre-game introduction of Colts defensive lineman Dwight Freeney emerging from a corn field and whacking aside head-high corn stalks as though they were menacing defenders. My wife and I got a pretty good laugh out of that one.

The image speaks to our state's roots, but what about our progressive present and promising future in things like technology and life sciences.

After all, isn’t there more than corn in Indiana?

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