Little 500: Memories to Last a Lifetime
In Part One, of a Seven Part Series, Here is WIUX Sports Member Kevin Bowen, on what the Little 500 means to him.
Upon arriving in Bloomington in the fall of 2008, I knew very little about the history and tradition of the Little 500.
Sure, I had lived in central Indiana for the first 18 years of my life but I had not been introduced to the ‘Greatest College Weekend.’ Throughout my freshman year I heard all the crazy stories of people talking about their experiences of Little 5 or what they heard it was going to be like.
As the spring headed into April, my friends and I purchased tickets to a pair of concerts on Thursday and Friday evening of Little 5 week. I will never forget those two venues and the types of crowds that took in those concerts.
Thousands of people flocked to Acacia for the Ludacris concert and people from all schools headed to Bloomington to embrace the tradition of the weekend. My R.A. from freshman year bought everyone on the floor a ticket to the race with our floor funds but for some reason I chose not to attend. Looking back on that, I really regret not attending the race but that just made my experience last year even better.
I had another great experience during my sophomore year but still didn’t attend the race. Last year was my second year with WIUX and thanks to our sports directors I had the privilege of broadcasting the 2011 Men’s Race. I did my research on many of the team’s involved but this was still going to be my first real experience with the race itself. To say that I was impressed by what I was about to witness over the next few hours would be an understatement.
I woke up that Saturday morning and looked outside to find a dreary, rainy and cold Bloomington. Was it ideal weather for running the race? No. Was that going to stop the riders and fans from showing up? No.
As the race worked its way into the early laps I was amazed by the intensity not the only the riders had around the track, but all the work that was done on the side of the tracks by the respective teams.
The race was drama filled with the four-time defending champion Cutters getting involved in an early wreck and having to fight their way through the field in order to get back in the lead pack.
On the final lap of the race, with star rider Eric Young of the Cutters needing to makeup a half-turn deficit, Phi Delta Theta inexplicably made an exchange thinking that it was lap 198.
The exchange proved costly as Young took the lead and never looked back as the Cutters took home another title amidst numerous boos from the non-independent teams. As the Cutters celebrated and we packed up our belongings at Bill Armstrong Stadium, I thought of how lucky we were to have broadcasted an event that routinely finds itself on ‘Must See’ sporting event lists each and every year.
Now as I get ready to start my final Little 500 as an IU student, I have experienced another side of the race. My roommate this year is riding in the race and I will sit in the stands on Saturday as a proud friend. He has trained diligently since the start of the school year and has shared the nerves he will experience come Saturday. Yes, these athletes that will compete on Saturday are just students but what they will embark on come 2 p.m. is anything but amateur.
It’s like having another job on top of being a student just for the adrenaline rush to race in front of thousands of people. It still hasn’t hit be that this is it for me at the Little 500 and I hope it never does.
It’s been a hell of a ride Bloomington. See you Saturday at Bill Armstrong.
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