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George Vlahakis
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Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2004

Little 500 tradition continues at IU Bloomington

Celebration will mark 25th anniversary of "Breaking Away"

Photo by: Chris Meyer/ IU Home Pages

Print-Quality Photo

EDITORS: Information and a credentials request form for media wishing to cover race activities will be distributed on April 12. More information about credentials will be available at http://newsinfo.iu.edu. IU students from your communities are competing in this year's men's and women's races and are available to talk with you for feature stories. A special Web site, http://iusf.bloomington.com/little5/pressinfo.html, provides contact information on every race participant.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Little 500 bicycle race began 54 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. Today, it is the premier intramural collegiate cycling event in the nation.

Little 500 race activities began on March 26 with qualifications and lead up to the women's and men's bicycle races on April 23-24. Now in its 17th year, the women's Little 500 will begin at at 4 p.m. CDT on April 23. On April 24 at 2 p.m. CDT, the men will have their turn.

Shaun Micheel, an IU alumnus and golfer who won the PGA Championship, will be the grand marshal. Former professional cyclist Jonathan Vaughters will be the race starter.

The races will again be presented in high-definition television by HDNet. They will take place at Armstrong Stadium, which is located off Fee Lane, just north of its intersection with 17th Street.

Other Little 500 events include the Little Fifty Running Race on Sunday, April 18, and a free public reception on April 23 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the movie which made the bike race famous, Breaking Away.

Anyone who was in the movie is encouraged to come to a reception where memorabilia from the 1979 movie starring Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern will be on display and film clips will be shown. The legacy of the "Cutters" lives on in the form of an independent men's team that will compete again this year.

Five years ago, stars Dennis Christopher and Robyn Douglas came back to Bloomington for a 20th-year remembrance, but they won't be at this year's event. This year's IU Student Foundation-organized event is meant to recognize the community's role, said the organization's director, Jonathan Purvis.

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. This year, competitors in the men's race will have a new incentive -- to be selected to train with the nation's leading developmental team for riders under the age of 23.

The inaugural TIAA-CREF MVP award will go to one rider in the April 24 men's race and enable him to train with race-starter Vaughters and the national team he directs. The IUB student will get an opportunity to attend team training camps and compete to earn a spot on the 15-member team.

The Little 500 race 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 2004, the event reflects the youthful spirit and diversity of the campus. On the pole for the men's race is an all-African American team, Team Major Taylor, and in the women's race, Mezcla became the first all-Latina bike team to qualify. Another team features members of the IU men's soccer 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 activities that weekend:

-- The Little Fifty Running Race will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 18, 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 Bill Armstrong Memorial Golf Classic will begin at 8 a.m., April 23, at the IU Golf Course, located on the Ind. 45/46 Bypass. Pre-registration for participants is required, and space is limited.

-- The Breaking Away 25th anniversary reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., April 23, on the soccer practice field adjacent to Armstrong Stadium.

-- Also on April 23 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.

-- Indiana Memorial Union will present at 5 p.m., April 24, the second annual Little 5 Step Down, which will exhibit the talents and traditions of historically black fraternities and sororities. Ten teams will compete for the opportunity to win up to $3,000. The program will be hosted by Damon Williams, who is currently touring with the "Kings of Comedy" and is widely considered one of Chicago's hottest and fastest-rising comics.

The event will take place at the IU Auditorium and is co-sponsored by the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Cost for students is $12 in advance and $15 at the door, and for the general public $15 dollars in advance and $18 at the door.

-- The annual spring concert of the IU Soul Revue will be at 8 p.m., April 24, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave. in downtown Bloomington. Advance tickets are available at the theater's Sunrise Box Office. Advance tickets cost $13 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Tickets will be $17 and $12 on the day of the performance.