IRL: Indy 500: Peyton Manning to wave green flag start

SUPER BOWL MVP MANNING TO WAVE GREEN FLAG TO START 91ST INDY 500 Colts' superstar also to serve as IPL 500 Festival Parade grand marshal INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 14, 2007 -- Super Bowl XLI Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning will wave the...

SUPER BOWL MVP MANNING TO WAVE GREEN FLAG TO START 91ST INDY 500
Colts' superstar also to serve as IPL 500 Festival Parade grand marshal

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 14, 2007 -- Super Bowl XLI Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning will wave the green flag to start the 91st Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Two-time National Football League MVP Manning also will serve as grand marshal of the IPL 500 Festival Parade on Saturday, May 26 in downtown Indianapolis.

Quarterback Manning led the Indianapolis Colts in the 2006-07 season to their first NFL championship, as the Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in the Super Bowl. Since joining the Colts as an NFL rookie in 1998, Manning has become one of America's most respected and beloved sports stars.

"I am very honored to have been asked to serve as the grand marshal of the 2007 IPL 500 Festival Parade," Manning said. "I appreciate the grand tradition of the Indianapolis 500 and am excited to participate in the festivities surrounding the event."

Manning holds several NFL passing records, including: touchdown passes in a single season (49 in 2004), most consecutive seasons with more than 4,000 yards passing (six, from 1999-2004), and most seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing in a career (seven). Manning has been selected to seven NFL Pro Bowls in his nine seasons with the Colts. He is also the only player in NFL history with more than 3,000 passing yards in each of his first nine seasons.

"We're excited that Peyton Manning will wave the green flag to start the 91st Indianapolis 500," said IMS President Joie Chitwood. "His performance in the Colts' run to the Super Bowl secured his place among all-time Indiana sports legends, electrifying and uniting the entire community in a blue wave of Colts' team spirit. He also has been a great friend to the Speedway and greater Indianapolis since coming here in 1998."

Known for his charitable contributions and humanitarian efforts, Manning and his Peyback Foundation have donated millions of dollars to help disadvantaged youth build a successful future. The Foundation accomplishes its mission by assisting established community-based programs and providing fundamental leadership and growth opportunities for kids. It focuses its efforts in a three-state region, including Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana.

In 2006, Manning was named the recipient of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his charitable contributions.

More than 300,000 spectators are expected to line the 2-mile IPL 500 Festival Parade route to catch a glimpse of the 33 starting drivers of the 91st Indianapolis 500, more than 80 specialty units, spectacular floats, marching bands and entertainment groups, giant inflatable balloons and costumed characters.

Themed "Spirit and Speed," this year's parade is a true representation of the power and pageantry of the month of May -- a Hoosier tradition for 50 years -- with a television package that will bolster the Parade's national presence. The IPL 500 Festival Parade will be televised nationally on ESPN2 from 5-6:30 p.m. (ET) and locally on WISH TV 8 from 8-10 p.m.

The IPL 500 Festival Parade has grown to be one of the signature events in the U.S. each year. It consistently ranks among the top three parades in the nation, including the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"It's fitting to have Peyton serve as grand marshal of one of the nation's largest and most-cherished events," 500 Festival President and CEO Kirk Hendrix said. "Selecting Peyton as grand marshal is a wonderful way for the 500 Festival, our city and state, to pay tribute to a man who has accomplished so much.

"We salute Peyton, not only for his contributions to the Colts, but to our entire community. With our theme, 'Spirit and Speed,' who more appropriate than Peyton Manning -- a man who has had a huge impact on the spirit of our city, bringing Indianapolis its first World Championship."

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2007 Indianapolis 500 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 91st Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 27, 2007.

Tickets can be purchased at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Web site, www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by phone or at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ticket Office. The IMS Ticket Office can be contacted at (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or (317) 492-6700 locally. Ticket Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Parking and camping permits for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" also can be purchased online, by phone or at the Ticket Office.

IPL 500 Festival Parade tickets: Tickets to the IPL 500 Festival Parade are available by calling (317) 614-6400 or any Ticketmaster outlet. Reserved bleacher seats are $13.50; reserved chair seats $17, and reserved VIP/TV Zone seats are $30. For more information visit www.500festival.com.

-credit: ims

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Series IndyCar