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Alex Ihnen

George Vlahakis

Last modified: Monday, April 15, 2002

52nd Little 500 at IU Bloomington this weekend

Race revenues being used to establish 9-11 Scholarships

EDITORS: Information concerning media credentials is being sent today (April 15) by the IU Office of Communications and Marketing. Media who need this information can find it online at, or can call 812-855-3911 to request it.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Little 500 began 52 years ago as a way to raise scholarship money for working students and create awareness of the IU Foundation among students. Today, it is known as the premier intramural collegiate cycling event in the nation.

This year, however, IU students competing in the running of the Little 500 bike races on Friday and Saturday (April 19-20) will be riding for much more than glory and being part of the history of a half-century campus tradition depicted in the movie Breaking Away.

Riders will be creating three new scholarships to memorialize victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks who have ties to IU and to honor the courage and commitment of all Americans. The first 9-11 Scholarships will be presented Sept. 11 as part of IU's observance of Patriots' Day.

Since 1951, the IU Student Foundation has used the race and other student activities to raise money for student scholarships. This year, proceeds from race activities -- which typically support 34 scholarships annually for working IU students -- will be used for three new $1,000 scholarships being created with input from three students who lost their fathers in the attacks. Funds which had been set aside in a "rainy day" fund will be used to support the existing scholarships. The IU Student Foundation also has been collecting contributions from others who want to be part of making the new scholarships possible.

In 1950, Howard S. Wilcox, then executive director of the IU Foundation, witnessed a small-scale bicycle race around a campus dormitory. As he watched the enthusiasm of the cheering spectators, Wilcox envisioned a similar event for the entire campus. He would pattern the race after the Indianapolis 500, which his father had won in 1919. With the support of the IU Student Foundation, the Little 500 was born.

The weekend's festivities will get rolling on Thursday (April 18) with the annual Mini 500 Trike Race at 7:30 p.m. in IU's Assembly Hall. Established in 1955 as a way for women to participate in the Little 500 race, the Mini 500 has evolved to include all-male teams and coed teams. This two-lap race on custom-made Roadmaster tricycles is always fun-spirited and light-hearted.

Events on Friday will begin with the Little 500 Golf Classic at 9 a.m. at the IU Golf Course. Pre-registration for participants is required and space is limited.

On Friday at 4 p.m., the independent team The Roadrunners will defend its 2001 victory in the 15th Women's Little 500 Race at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Since 1988, more than 1,100 women have ridden in the 100-lap race.

The men will take their turn on Saturday at 2 p.m. with the Men's Little 500. Phi Delta Theta will attempt to win the men's race for the second year in row. This 200-lap race was the backdrop for the Oscar-winning motion picture Breaking Away. Since its beginnings 52 years ago, more than 6,500 undergraduate men have ridden in the Little 500.

The men's race recently has been featured in major publications such as Sports Illustrated, The Chicago Tribune and USA Today. Any full-time undergraduate student at IU Bloomington can ride in the Little 500, and most riders have never competed in any other cycling race.

Riders begin training for the races at the beginning of the school year in August. There are 33 men's teams and 30 women's teams. Each team consists of four riders who take turns competing during the race. In the weeks leading up to the race, riders compete in a series of exciting training events, including individual time trials, Miss-N-Out and Team Pursuit.

Although the times have changed, the purpose of Little 500 remains the same -- to raise scholarship money for working students. To date, the event has raised more than $750,000. While different scholarships have different criteria, all of the scholarships are awarded in the spirit of helping students who help themselves.

Tickets for the Mini 500 and the men's and women's races are available at any TicketMaster location or through the IU Student Foundation Web site at For more ticket information, call 812-855-RACE.