Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning was the engine of the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos offense for many years. His playmaking abilities paid off ultimately, helping give each city a Lombardi Trophy during a brilliant 18-year career.
Despite being retired from football, Manning will be serving as an engine of sorts in another capacity in the near future.
On Tuesday, the Daytona International Speedway unveiled that Manning will be the honorary pace car driver for this Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Bob Pockrass of ESPN was among the first to deliver the news. The plan is that Manning will lead the 40-man field around the famous track before the race itself commences.
Pockrass added that the five-time MVP will team up with former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the noteworthy event. Earnhardt Jr. will shoulder the load of being the grand marshal and will give the command for the racers to start their engines.
Austin Fuller of The Daytona Beach News-Journal revealed that another big name will join the already stacked crew. This particular name will certainly cause the heart rates of Fast and Furious fans to shift up a gear or two. Following Earnhardt Jr.’s command, Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron will wave the green flag to get the action underway.
— Daytona International Speedway (@DISupdates) February 13, 2018
The Denver Post’s Nicki Jhabvala reminds sports junkies that this Sunday will mark the 60-year anniversary of the Daytona classic. Furthermore, the sports writer also discloses that Manning will be behind the wheel of a Toyota Camry XSE while performing his honorary duties.
Tim Daniels of Bleacher Report reproduced Manning’s thoughts on having been bestowed with this special opportunity.
“Serving as the honorary pace car driver will be a truly unique and exciting experience,” Manning said. “I want to thank NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway and Nationwide for making this possible. I’m really looking forward to race day.”
Colts.com writer Andrew Walker shares that the racing world is not necessarily a new concept for the former QB. Walker chips in that Manning, in fact, is quite familiar with it due to where he played for the vast majority of his professional career: Indianapolis. Back in 2007, Manning was actually granted the privilege of waving the green flag at the Indy 500.
The Louisiana native became even more acquainted with NASCAR after his retirement. In 2016, Earnhardt Jr. invited the living legend to the Bristol Motor Speedway, via Pockrass. As a result, a linkage with the sport that had already been established years before became even more solidified.
NFL.com’s staff recently attached weight to Manning’s incredible career accomplishments. Let alone the MVPs and Super Bowl wins, The Sheriff is the NFL’s all-time leader in two major departments. He boasts the record in passing yards (71,940) and touchdowns (539).
Numbers along those lines scream that he is bound to be in the Hall of Fame once he becomes eligible. Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile understands this and discerns that Manning’s presence will be an absolute treat, according to NASCAR.com.
“We’re talking true star power with this announcement, as Peyton Manning is one of the legends of both college football and the NFL,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile.
“He also has the persona and popularity to match his achievements. He’ll be an awesome Honorary Pace Car Driver and a great addition to our lineup of high-profile guests for the 60th DAYTONA 500.”
Manning is far from the only big-name celebrity who has been named the honorary pace car driver for the Daytona 500. Jhabvala’s article exhibits that celebrities such as Jay Leno and Tom Cruise are on the list. Moreover, sports figures such as Cal Ripken Jr. and John Cena have also been a part of this American tradition.