Panther Racing has ties to Indianapolis Colts

At Panther Racing, when one of your most recognizable team owners is a member of the Indianapolis Colts "Ring of Honor," and the CEO is a die-hard fan of the AFC Champions, there is little debate about who will win Super Bowl XLI.

"There better not be any Bears fans in this building," said Panther CEO John Barnes, who is attending the Super Bowl in Miami. Of course when your boss is former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh, and one of the team's IndyCar Series machines carries the number he wore as a Colt, it's probably a good idea to keep your Chicago Bears hat at home – even if Harbaugh did play for the Bears, too.

"I'm just so happy for the Irsay family, for Peyton (Manning) and for all those people that are still with Indianapolis," Harbaugh said during his visit to the Panther shop late last month. "They were so great to me it's great to see them enjoying this moment."

The race shop has been buzzing with Colts fans the past month; team owner Mike Griffin and race engineer Bill Pappas wore Peyton Manning's No. 18 jersey to work, and Panther Education Center employee Jon Temple, a season ticket holder, is one of the loudest and proudest in the shop. His sidekick on the PEC project, Sue Keene, proudly wore her No. 21 Bob Sanders jersey on Feb. 2.

The other staffer known to wear a Sanders jersey is CFO Nic Baumann, who is just as superstitious as he is passionate about the Colts. Public Relations Director Mike Kitchel, whose father Gary has been a season ticker holder since the team moved to Indy in 1984, is happy to see a winner here after years of watching the likes of Mike Pagel, Scott Erickson and Jeff George.

"Look where I live and work, man. You think I have a choice of who to root for this weekend?" team driver Vitor Meira said. "I've watched about three football games in my life, but the AFC game a week ago was the best football game I've ever seen. The Colts are going to win this game."

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