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Jonathan Purvis
IU Student Foundation

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, April 19, 2004

New scholarship to honor founder of Little 500

Howard "Howdy" Wilcox, right, shares a moment with late IU Foundation President Bill Armstrong and Little 500 legend David Blaise, a winner in the 1962 race.

Print-Quality Photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new scholarship has been established at Indiana University to honor the man who founded the Little 500 bicycle race.

The Wilcox-Alpha Tau Omega Little 500 Scholarship honors the memory of Howard "Howdy" Wilcox, who died in March 2003 at the age of 82. It is intended to become one of the most prestigious awards given in relation to the Little 500 and the winner of the scholarship will be announced at the start of the men's race each year.

The initial value of the scholarship will be $1,000, but the amount could be increased if the award's endowment grows. The Little 500 races will take place this weekend. The 17th running of the women's race will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday (April 23), and the 54th running of the men's race will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday (April 24).

Jonathan Purvis, director of the IU Student Foundation, said the new scholarship was established by friends and family members following Wilcox's death. It will be presented to a student who resides on campus, maintains his or her grades, is involved with the Little 500 race in some way, and can show he or she also is involved in a variety of additional campus activities.

In 1950, while serving as president of the IU Foundation, Wilcox came up with the idea of holding an annual campus bicycle race patterned after the famous Indianapolis 500 race. What became known as the Little 500 now is regarded as the most successful intramural cycling event of its kind in the country. In 1979, the Little 500 was immortalized by the Academy Award-winning movie Breaking Away. Thousands of students have received scholarships as the result of race proceeds each year.

Wilcox graduated from IU in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity as an undergraduate at IU and was an active alumnus for more than 60 years. He served on the IU Board of Trustees from 1962-65.

Tickets for Little 500 races are $20 and are available through, Ticketmaster locations including the IU Auditorium Box Office, and the Indiana Memorial Union Student Activities Desk. Go to for more information.