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The History 

indiana university little 500

Since being founded in 1951 by Howdy Wilcox Jr., the Little 500 has become one of Indiana University's most iconic annual events. Wilcox Jr., Executive Director of the Indiana University Student Foundation (IUSF) at the time, created the bike race as a way to raise money for student scholarships. Since its inaugural year, the four-person men's teams race for 200 laps (50.95 miles) traveling at nearly 25 miles-per-hour on razor-thin Schwinn bicycles.

In 1987, the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority entered a team in the then all-male race. Although they did not qualify in the top 33 teams, their participation raised awareness for women's interest in competing in their own race. In 1988, the first women's Little 500 took place. The women's race is 100 laps (25.47 miles), but it's the same as the men's race in every other aspect. To be eligible for the race, the IUSF requires riders to be full-time undergraduates students with at least a 2.0 GPA in the fall semester. The riders must be independent, affiliated with a residence hall, or part of a fraternity/sorority. 

To this day, Little 500 is still run by students in the IUSF. The goal is to provide entertainment and raise money, and to also foster spirited competition and provide leadership opportunities for students. The IUSF has raised over two-million dollars to help working students finish college. 

The Little 500 is known across the country as "The World's Greatest College Weekend," as more than 25,000 fans travel to Bloomington to see what the hype is all about. In the past, Lance Armstrong, former Bachelor & IU alum Ben Higgins, and Former President Barack Obama have come to the race. The Little 500 has even gotten recognition on the silver screen: Breaking Away (1979) is an Academy Award-winning film about the race. 

Today, the event is a week-long experience complete with giveaways, events, an annual concert, and celebrity appearances. 

RELATED CONTENT: Pedaling Through History to the Little 500

The Details

little 500

The Little 500 takes place at Bill Armstrong Stadium, also home to Indiana University soccer.

Race dates for the next three years are as follows:

  • 2022: April 22-23
  • 2023: April 21-22
  • 2024: April 19-20

Buying Tickets 

Little 500 women's race with bikers and crowd

The university suggests purchasing your tickets in advance of Little 500 weekend on the IUSF website. For adults, tickets are $35.00 if bought in advance and $45.00 the day of the race. For kids ages 3-12, tickets are $15.00. Children two-years-old and younger have a $5.00 admission cost. One ticket is good for both the men's and women's races.

Know Before You Go

Women's Little 500 Winners

Spring is an electric time in Bloomington. In addition to warmer weather, patio dining, and outdoor activity, the Little 500 brings an enormous amount of visitors to our town. To make sure you have the best experience during "The World's Greatest College Weekend," consider following these tips & tricks:

  • As previously mentioned, Little 500 is a very crowded weekend, so plan ahead. Book your stay well in advance for the best selection of lodging and rates. More people means more traffic — expect travel times to increase, and consider walking when within reason. 

  • Parking for the races is free at Gate 12 (the Green Lot). The walk from the free parking lot to Bill Armstrong Stadium is less than five minutes. The Poplars Parking Garage, located near Kirkwood Avenue on 6th Street, offers free overnight and weekend parking. It's about a 30-minute walk from the garage to the stadium, but you can take a scenic route through campus to see a variety of iconic Indiana University landmarks on your way there.

  • The races happen rain or shine, so be prepared for all types of weather.

  • Grab a copy of the Indiana Daily Student upon entering the race. The paper has information on the teams racing and their jersey colors.

  • Bars and restaurants usually offer deals & specials for the weekend, which are often listed on their website and/or social media accounts.