Jordan Bailey sat in the stands of Bill Armstrong stadium and watched two of the things he loves most come together in the form of Little 500.
He was still in high school at the time. Once he saw his passion for racing and cycling collide, he knew it was something he wanted to be a part of.
Now 10 years later, the Little 500 race director is stepping away from the track.
“The race really changes you for the better,” Bailey said. “You don’t realize it when you’re in the thick of it.”
Most know Bailey in his current role as director of all things Little 500—he organizes everything from sponsorships to the Bloomington 5K and 10K races and leads the Little 5 Bikers Council.
It’s a position Bailey has held for the last five years. But it was his experience as a rider that made him to stick around.
He arrived in Bloomington the year after the Black Key Bulls, an independent men’s cycling team, was formed.
With an event that has the history of Little 5, it wasn’t uncommon for teams to have 50-plus years of race experience. BKB didn’t fall into that category, but as Bailey got to know some of the riders during fall series events, he decided to join.
BKB quickly cultivated a winning culture and has been a serious contender since forming a team.
Bailey was a part of building that culture.
While he was part of the team, BKB placed in the top 10 all four years, but unfortunately Bailey’s career overlapped with a five-year win streak for the Cutters.
In the late 2000’s, BKB was just establishing their team – Bailey said they compete on an entirely different level these days.
“They have developed the program, and those guys are such good riders that, if I were on the team today, I would be lucky if I were their water boy,” he said.
Four years of racing in the Little 500 wasn’t enough for Bailey.
After graduation, he took over as race director. He wanted to continue to be part of something that changed his life – he didn’t want to alter it, but leave his mark on a race that already had six decades of history.
“Over the past five years, I’ve grown to appreciate the race and the University a lot more,” Bailey said.
Although he said it’s a bittersweet feeling to be in his final year, he’s excited for the future. He and his wife will be moving to Atlanta this summer, where he hopes to continue a career in what he calls the “action sports industry.”
A new race director will be hired soon after this race season ends.
Looking back on his time with the race, Bailey is grateful for it all, but there’s one moment he won’t forget.
Not only did he have the chance to witness the BKB win its first ever Little 500 title two years ago, he was on the podium at the end, handing his former team the trophy.
“(As race director) you have to wear a different hat where it’s a more unbiased look at the field,” he said. “But it was pretty special to be able to see them get their first team victory.”
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