BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University, the IU Student Foundation and riders from 65 teams will continue one of the most storied traditions in competitive cycling April 20 and 21 as the Little 500 descends upon Bill Armstrong Stadium on the Bloomington campus.
The student-run event, presented this year by Subaru of America and Royal Subaru on the east side, raises money for undergraduate student scholarships through the Little 500 Financial Emergency Fund. Proceeds from the Little 500 contribute to the fund, which supports students who face obstacles to continuing their education at Indiana University due to financial hardship. Since its inception in 1951, the Little 500 has raised more than $2 million for IU Bloomington student scholarships.
"The Little 500 is, through and through, an event by and for IU Bloomington undergraduate students," said Tara Vickers, director of the IU Student Foundation. "Our IU Student Foundation Steering Committee and general members work all year long to plan, promote and execute this wonderful event, transforming Bill Armstrong Stadium from a soccer stadium into a cycling spectacle. And our proceeds go directly back to supporting student scholarships by way of the Little 500 Financial Emergency Fund."
The 31st running of the women's Little 500 will begin at 4 p.m. Friday, April 20, at Bill Armstrong Stadium near the intersection of 17th Street and Fee Lane. The following day, the 68th running of the men's race at will begin at 2 p.m.
Gates will open 90 minutes before the green flag is scheduled to drop. New security measures, which will include the use of metal detectors and bag checks -- but will not follow the clear-bag policy implemented by IU Athletics in 2017 -- will be in place at stadium entrances. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early and prepare accordingly.
More than 25,000 people attend Little 500 races each year. Tickets permit admission to both events and are available for $35 in advance, $45 at the gate, $15 for children ages 3 to 12 and $5 for children 2 and younger. They can be purchased online through IU Athletics. The races can also be seen live online at broadcast.iu.edu or via the IU Student Foundation's Facebook live stream. Once again, WIUX student radio will call the action.
The Little 500, which is patterned after the Indianapolis 500, includes up to 33 teams in each race lining up for the start in 11 rows of three. Starting positions are determined by qualifying times, with the fastest team nabbing the pole.
As many as four riders can compete on a team. When one rider is tired, he or she exchanges the bicycle with a teammate. The women's race is 25 miles -- 100 laps on a quarter-mile cinder track. The men's race is 50 miles -- 200 laps on the same track. All race competitors are amateurs and are full-time students at IU Bloomington.
The event began in 1951 as a men's race between teams from fraternities and residential units. In 1988, a women's race was added, and modern fields for both events have expanded to include student groups and independent riders. In fact, independent teams swept the podium of last year's men's race, with the Black Key Bulls edging the Gray Goats and the Cutters. Kappa Alpha Theta took the top spot in the women's race.
As with the Indy 500, winners of the Little 500 are immortalized on their version of the Borg-Warner Trophy, which is displayed year-round at the Indiana Memorial Union. Historically, the Cutters with 12 wins and Kappa Alpha Theta with seven hold the most victories in their respective fields.
Little 500 teams also compete off the track by raising money through the crowdfunding campaign Cycling for Scholarships. Each team collects donations through its own Fundly site. The team who raises the most will earn the honor of wearing cream and crimson candy-striped jerseys on race day. Supporters are also encouraged to "play the field" and donate in honor of all the men and women who have and will make the Little 500 a success.
The Cutters and Delta Gamma will don green jerseys in this year's race as the top qualifiers in the men's and women's fields, respectively.
"Our riders train all year long and give their all, working every bit as hard as Division I athletes to bring pure amateur sport at its finest and exceptional collegiate competition to the whole campus," Vickers said.
"Being one of the few students entrusted with continuing one of IU's greatest traditions has been an amazing experience," said Tory Blackwell, IU Student Foundation president. "There is so much that goes into making the 'magic' of the Little 500 happen. Through the IU Student Foundation, I have built relationships with some of the hardest-working and most passionate individuals I have ever met. It has been so rewarding to create this special event with my team, and I have fallen even deeper in love with IU through this process."
Little 500 races culminate a series of annual cycling and philanthropic activities during the spring semester. Three free events at Bill Armstrong Stadium will precede the Little 500.
- Individual Time Trials will take place at 4 p.m. March 28.
- The Miss N Out competition will be held at noon March 31.
- The Team Pursuit event will take place at 1 p.m. April 8.
The team that accumulates the most points during this Spring Cycling Series will earn the distinction of wearing white jerseys during the Little 500.