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Media Contacts

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Rob Rhamy
Little 500 Race Director

Last modified: Monday, April 19, 2004

Tour Bloomington through the lens of the movie "Breaking Away"

This year's Little 500 features other stories as well

Photo by: Chris Meyer/ IU Home Pages

Print-Quality Photo

NOTE: Media credentials are required to cover Little 500. Information is available at the IU Media Relations home page at or from George Vlahakis, who is listed as a contact on this page. To request photos from Breaking Away, please contact 20th Century Fox Studios at

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An avid fan of cycling, Steve Tesich based his script for the 1979 Academy Award-winning film Breaking Away on his experiences as a student on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. Today, as the film turns 25, bicyclists are a common sight on campus and in the community, and many of the settings for the film remain and can be easily located.

The movie focuses on four young men during their first year out of high school. As "cutters" in a college town, they feel stranded in Bloomington and looked down upon by the college students. They have something to prove, both to themselves and to the community, through their victory as the "Cutters" in IU Bloomington's annual Little 500 bicycle race.

Dave, played by Dennis Christopher, has become very good at bike racing, emulating his heroes on Team Cinzano from Italy. Mike, played by Dennis Quaid, is the former high school quarterback who has been overlooked by the college scouts. Cyril, portrayed by Daniel Stern, is the underachiever. Moocher, played by Jackie Earle Haley, is short in stature but never sees it that way.

The Little 500 today is known as the premier intramural collegiate cycling event in the nation. Any full-time undergraduate student at IU Bloomington can ride in the Little 500, and most have never competed in a cycling race before. The 2004 Women's Little 500 will take place on Friday (April 23) and the Men's Little 500 is scheduled for Saturday (April 24).

The races will be presented live in high-definition television on HDNet, and a highlights show will air at 1 p.m. Sunday on WISH-TV in Indianapolis.

Here is a tour of places, both on and off campus, where the movie was filmed and information about them today, as well as other story ideas connected with this year's race.

A Breaking Away tour of Bloomington

-- Dave's father, played by Paul Dooley, is a used car dealer who doesn't appreciate his son's aspirations. Today, his Campus Cars remains a used car lot and is known as United Auto Sales. It is located at 1010 S. Walnut Ave.

-- The Rose Well House, an open-air pavilion in the heart of campus, covers the original well for IU and was a gift from Theodore F. Rose in 1908. IU tradition holds that a female student is not officially a coed until she has been kissed beneath its dome at midnight. It also is the place where Dave confesses to his coed love, Katherine, played by Robyn Douglass, that he is not an Italian student but in fact a "cutter," someone from the community, where limestone remains an important industry.

-- The abandoned quarry where the four young local men talk about dreams and their futures today is off-limits to everyone because it is located on private property. Called either "The Long Hole" or "Sanders" quarry, it is owned by the Indiana Limestone Co. and is located on Empire Mill Road.

-- The Commons of the Indiana Memorial Union, located at 900 E. Seventh St. on campus, is where Dave and his friends get into a fight with college students. It remains a gathering place today for many students and visitors to IU.

-- The name of Delta Delta Delta sorority was temporarily changed for the making of the movie, but it is the place where Katherine is serenaded by Dave and Cyril. The sorority is located at 818 E. Third St., and an online tour is available at

-- The IU president's office, where then IU President John Ryan announced that there would be a town team in Little 500, remains in Bryan Hall, located at the corner of Kirkwood and Indiana avenues near the Sample Gates. Those who know Ryan, IU's 14th president, will realize as they watch the movie that his voice was dubbed over.

-- The restaurant where Dave and Katherine talk about their families and about Italy was known in 1979 as the Magic Horn restaurant and was located at 430 Fourth St. Today it is home to a Thai restaurant, Siam House.

-- The Stohler home was located at 756 S. Lincoln St. and today is another family's home.

-- Little 500 race scenes were filmed in 10th Street or Memorial Stadium, where the IU Arboretum is now located. The last Little 500 race was held there in 1980, and the stadium was torn down in 1982. Today, the Arboretum is an ideal place for relaxation and study, with hundreds of trees and other greenery. It is located between the Main Library, the Radio-Television Building and the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The LIttle 500 races are now held at Bill Armstrong Stadium on North Fee Lane.

Other story ideas

-- As if training to defend their NCAA championship title weren't enough, four members of the IU men's soccer team have eyes on another accomplishment -- a Little 500 victory. Competing in the same stadium as the soccer field, the IU Soccer Bike Team hopes it will have the same success on the Little 500 track. Avoiding accidents will be crucial for this rookie team in making Little 500 history this spring, as well as soccer history last fall. For assistance, contact Christy Tolin at 812-856-0146 or Members of the Army ROTC Program also have a team in this year's men's race.

-- In an event that is becoming increasingly more diverse, the African American men's team -- Team Major Taylor -- is on the pole this year. Mezcla, an all-Latina team, overcame the odds to make the women's field. While both teams are pioneers for other all-minority teams to compete in Little 500, fraternity, sorority and independent teams have long had minority representation. Team Major Taylor's home page is located at

-- While many college students spend spring break on a beach or ski slope, Little 500 riders spent their week training for the race, as the months before the race are the most crucial in a year-long training program. Many Little 500 teams traveled to warm destinations and took advantage of the weather by going on long rides, while other teams participated in a Spring Break Training Camp in the IU Bloomington area. Rob Rhamy, Little 500 race coordinator, can discuss the training program that most riders use to prepare for Little 500. He can be reached at or 812-855-9152.

-- One rider in this year's men's Little 500 will be selected for the inaugural TIAA-CREF MVP award. The new award will enable one rider in the April 24 men's race to train with former professional cyclist Jonathan Vaughters and the nation's leading developmental team for riders under the age of 23. The award is made possible by support from TIAA-CREF, a national financial services and retirement system for higher education and research employees. Vaughters will be the starter for both the men's and women's races and will be available for interviews. More information is available at

More than 20,000 people attend the men's and women's races every year, with the net proceeds used for working student scholarships at Indiana University. To date the IU Student Foundation has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to IU working students.