Indiana University's Little 500 bicycle race began 55 years ago as a way to raise scholarship money for working students. It has been the subject of an Academy Award-winning film and numerous news reports and sports broadcasts.
Photo by Chris Meyer
IU sophomore Lindsay Bury stretches against a fence to warm up before taking laps on her bike at Armstrong Stadium in preparation for this year?s Little 500.
Little 500 race activities began on March 26 with qualifications and lead up to the women's and men's bicycle races on April 15-16 on the Bloomington campus. Now in its 18th year, the women's Little 500 will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 15. On April 16 at 2 p.m., the men will have their turn.
Rick Greenspan, IU athletics director, will be the grand marshal. The races will take place at Armstrong Stadium. Both races again will be presented nationally in high-definition television by HDNet, and an hour-long highlights show will be presented on WISH-TV Channel 8 at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday April 17.
Other Little 500-related events include the Little Fifty foot race on April 9 at IU's Haugh Outdoor Track Complex. On April 13, Indiana Memorial Union Board will present a free screening of the movie which made the bike race famous, Breaking Away.
Free drinks and popcorn will be provided at the event at Dunn Meadow, which will begin at 8 p.m. The 1977 film, which won an Academy Award for best original screenplay for IU alumnus Steve Tesich, featured future stars Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern, and was filmed at IU.
In addition to the excitement of the competition and festivities, the race has raised more than $1 million in scholarship money for working IU students.
Riders to compete for glory and chance to pursue another dream
Any full-time undergraduate student at IUB can ride in the Little 500, and most riders have never competed in any other cycling race. It was created by the late Howard S. "Howdy" Wilcox, who patterned it after the Indianapolis 500, which his father had won in 1919. He was inspired by a bicycle race he saw involving students racing around a dormitory, with several women leaning out of windows and cheering them on. He convened the IU Student Foundation, told them what he had seen and proposed the Little 500 as a means of raising scholarship money for students working their way through college. The first race was held in 1951.
In 2005, the event reflects the youthful spirit and diversity of the campus. New this year is an all-African American team, Team Marshal, which joins the first all-Latina team, Mezcla, in the women's race. An all-African America team, Team Major Taylor, again will compete in the men's race. An Latino team attempted to qualify for this year's men's race for the first time.
Fraternity Phi Kappa Psi has the pole in a men's field which includes teams from 21 fraternities and six housing units and six independents, including the Jimmy Buffett inspired Parrotheads. Kappa Kappa Gamma has the pole in a women's race which includes teams from 21 sororities and two housing units and nine independents, including an Army ROTC team.
Tickets for Little 500 races are $20 for adults and $5 for children aged 12 and under. Single-event adult tickets are $10 for the women's race and $15 for the men's race. They are available through Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster locations, including the IU Auditorium Box Office, and the Indiana Memorial Union Student Activities Desk. Go to http://www.iusf.org for more information.
Below is information on other Little 500 activities:
* The Little Fifty Running Race will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 9, at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex (next to Armstrong Stadium). The event will feature both a men's and women's running race consisting of 33 teams of four students each. It will be a 50-lap relay competition with many awards and prizes. Proceeds raised from the race will go toward the philanthropy designated by the winning women's and men's teams. Admission is included for those purchasing Little 500 tickets; otherwise admission is $5.
* The Miss-N-Out competition, which will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, tests riders' abilities to ride tactically in a pack. Riders are arranged in heats of six to eight and go from preliminaries to quarterfinals to semifinals to the final. Each lap, the last rider across the start/finish line is eliminated from the competition until two or three advance. Sometimes described as "musical chairs on a bike," Miss-N-Out is a popular spectator series event.
* The Team Pursuit competition, which will start at 3 p.m. on April 7, tests team strength and unity. Two teams line up on opposite sides of the track and ride against each other for 15 laps (12 for the women). The lowest two times of the preliminary heats square off against each other in the final, which determines the event champions.
* The Bill Armstrong Memorial Golf Classic will begin at 8 a.m., April 15, at the IU Golf Course, located on the Ind. 45/46 Bypass. Pre-registration for participants is required, and space is limited.
* Also on April 15 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Stadium, the IU football team will scrimmage in its annual Cream and Crimson Game. Admission and parking will be free. Concession stands and the IU Varsity Shop will be open. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and the scrimmage will start at 7 p.m.
* Indiana Memorial Union Board will present at 7:30 p.m., April 15, the third annual Little 5 Step Down, which will exhibit the talents and traditions of historically black fraternities and sororities. Teams from IU, Chicago and Atlanta will compete for the opportunity to win up to $3,000. The program will be hosted by comedienne Hope Flood, whose appearances include "Russell Simmons' HBO All-Star Def Comedy Jam' and on BET's "Comic View." The event will take place at the IU Auditorium and is co-sponsored by the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Cost is $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
-- Union Board also will present a concert by The Roots, a hip-hop band with rock influences, at 8 p.m. on April 14 at the IU Auditorium. Cost for students is $27 for student and $35 for everyone else. Tickets are available at the IU Auditorium Box Office and from Ticketmaster.