Three classes of IU students have not experienced a Little 500 race due to COVID-19 cancellations in 2020 and the no-spectator policy in 2021. The 2022 Little 500 will be the first normal race since 2019. Alumni offered race week tips to students from their time at IU.
Kristen Weaver, IU class of 2003, said students should experience the event at least once if possible. She said she hasn’t been back to Little 500 specifically since she was a student, but she fondly remembers the races she attended.
“It’s an incredible experience,” Weaver said. “I don’t know any other college that does something like this, and it’s a big deal.”
Get there early, Weaver advised. She said she loved when the acapella group Straight No Chaser would sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” before the race started. This is an annual Little 500 tradition and the public can expect to see it again this year, according to an article from News at IU.
Make sure to support the people you know, Weaver said.
“That made it a lot more fun if you actually knew somebody who was racing the day of,” Weaver said. “We would make little signs and things to cheer them on.”
Weaver also said students should know a little more about the race before attending it. To do this, she said students should watch the late 1970s film “Breaking Away,” which is about a local team competing in Little 500.
Erika Arakawa, IU class of 2020 and a former cyclist for the IU Kappa Alpha Theta chapter, said in an email to the Indiana Daily Student that students should take advantage of the traditions and that the Little 500 riding community is close-knit.
“The community of the Little 500 is its strongest asset,” she wrote. “The riders become fans who support the next generation of riders.”
Craig Levy, IU class of 1987, said he’s been back for a few races as an alumnus. He said students should particularly pay attention to the pit during the race because it can be fascinating.
“Of course the rider swaps are always exciting,” Levy said. “Especially if you’re got multiple folks coming in at the same time.”
While he knows it’s a big weekend for partying, Levy said he wants to remind students to be safe.
“Wear a lot of sunscreen, keep hydrated,” he said. “There’ll be time for partying afterwards.”
He said Little 500 is not just about the race but the tradition and purpose behind it through the IU Student Foundation.
“They also fundraise and so it’s not just about riding,” Levy said. “It’s about giving back.”