Sixtieth Little 500 Delayed by Rain by kentsterling
April 24, 2010, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Indiana University, Kent Sterling, Little 500, Uncategorized

by Kent Sterling

The weather gods are smiling on our decision to avoid Bloomington on this Little 500 as the skies opened up during lap 88 – a lap that Little 500 enthusiasts recognize the traditional time for Ed Kink to flip his eyelids, which is now known as the “Greatest Debacle in Racing”.

The race has been suspended with 102 laps complete.  They are planning to resume the race shortly with the Cutters leading and DTD in second.  The Cutters have won the last three Little 500s.

IU alum Mark Cuban has issued the financially dubious mandate that HD Net carry the race live, so I have been monitoring from the dropping of the Green Flag.  I can’t imagine their are more than 12 DirecTV subscribers in America who are watching the rain delay coverage.  Unfortunately, the producers only prepared two pieces to cover a potential break in the action, so the three announcers are talking about their favorite bike racing movies – after “Breaking Away” and “American Flyers” the pickings get slim.

The students have stayed in the stadium to see if the race will resume, but I can promise you that had this delay occurred last year.  We would have been long gone as soon as the first drop fell.

Here are a couple more pictures from the 1986 debacle.  The first is of Spanky Froat driving the RV that Chicken Loman did donuts in just a little earlier.  The second is Froat with an ampty Old Style can stuck to his forehead.  He spent more than half his five years with an empty beer can stuck to his forehead or chest.  To this day, Froat is the only Drug-Free Power Lifting Championship with six beer cans affixed to his body through suction.


Indiana University Little 500 – #1 Greatest All-Time Memory by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The Little 500 Weekend was always the time to turn it up a notch – go even nuttier and blow off steam before finals.  Ahh, who am I crappin’?  We blew off steam like it was our job, but there was no better place or time than in Bloomington, Indiana, on that beautiful Saturday when the bikes went around in circles 200 times.

Picking the greatest ten moments has been a fun trip down memory lane, but there are so many other moments that deserve some measure of recognition.

Each Little 500 Saturday, there were traditions as moronic and pointless as any surrounding a college event in America.  My two favorites were to walk from Walnut Knolls (and then the Hampton Inn after we graduated) across Walnut and College to the IGA to fill a grocery cart with steaks and unfiltered Lucky Strikes only to abandon it in the produce section.  The second was to call room 306 at the Hampton Inn and identifying myself to the guest as the manager of the hotel.  The occupants were told their stay would be comped if they accepted the request to switch rooms.  “You see, I promised a young couple room 306, and they have just registered for the room.  They had their first special experience in that room, and I made the mistake of promising them the room when they made their reservation.  If you would agree to switch to room 312, we would be happy to comp your stay.”  Invariably, the people agreed, went down to the front desk, and confused the actual manager with that tale of woe.

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Indiana University – Little 500 – Greatest Memory #2 by kentsterling
April 23, 2010, 10:37 am
Filed under: Indiana University, Kent Sterling, Little 500, Uncategorized

by Kent Sterling

The Little 500 is to Indiana University what, well, nothing is to any other campus. It is a unique day and event. Other schools claim to have a similar fun centerpiece, none are close. The Little 500 has its own stadium, and is broadcast live on a national TV network – okay, it’s HD Net, but at least it isn’t Versus.

Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen everything. Idiots. Thieves. Mopes. Shocked parents. Arrests of morons. That one day serves as a great example of both the best and worst that college offers.

There are times that resurrect the long dormant vibe of college discovery and excitement. At Indiana, that day isn’t a football of basketball game, it’s the Little 500. Even as we are almost 25 years out from our final Little five as students, a return to Bloomington on this weekend puts a hop in a relatively old guy’s step.

When we do go back, it’s always a plus to bring some youngsters to both give us a push when we hit the wall at about 5p. They are good about getting us through, and it’s a little like taking your kids to a carnival. You get to enjoy it through their eyes, and it becomes new again.

Little 500 Favorite Memory #2 – Trophy Wife for Paulie Balst

The 2007 Little 500 saw our return for the first time in a decade. Once people start having kids, bolting the family for a weekend so completely insipid is almost indefensible, so while dads coached Little League or AAU Basketball there was what we thought was a permanent moratorium on Little 500 fun.

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Indiana University’s Little 500 Weekend: #3 Greatest All-Time Moment by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Ahh, the Little 500.  Dr. Bop & the Headliners, Roadmaster, John Mellencamp, the BoDeans, Otis Day and the Knights, and too much more music to mention.  The powers that be at IU tried to do everything they could to keep the students and silly alums from getting bored after the race.  They knew from past experience that when amped-up 20-year-olds get bored in large group, mailboxes at the Villas explode.

An impressive effort was made over the years to keep the kids in an environment that could be controlled by booking bands that resonated with the student body.  My favorite band was Otis Day & the Knights.  They are the band the played the Delta House’s toga party in “Animal House”.  The band didn’t really exist, but actor DeWayne Jessie (Otis Day) knew a chance to make some coin when he saw it.  The played a postrace concert after a race in the early 1990s, and that was enough to get us to walk over to the field west of Bill “Army” Armstrong Stadium for a look.

Greatest Moment #3 – 1992-ish – “We Need Some Space”

The race was like all of the others.  Bike went around and around in circles for two hours, Ed Kink flipped up his eyelids during lap 88, and the screwdrivers were mix and chilled to perfection.  Over the years, the status of the vodka rose with the level of our earnings.  While we were students, we bought Popov or McCormick’s.  Shortly after graduation, graduated to Smirnov and maybe treated ourselves to some Absolut.  Later, it was nothing but Stoli and then Grey Goose (you don’t have to remind me that mixing Grey Goose with orange juice is ridiculous.)

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Little 500 Party Pictures from 1985 by kentsterling
April 21, 2010, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Kent Sterling, Little 500 | Tags: ,

by Kent Sterling

Indianapolis bon vivant and raconteur Lou Belch was a big part of the Little 500 celebrations in 1985 and 1986.  He chronicled those parties on film.  In these three pics, you see the crowd before it got really crowded, the group trying to shove their way into the party through the north entrance of Walnut Knolls D-Building, and the last hot dog vendor as the party petered out at 2am.  If it looks unsafe, it was.  And why not.  Nothing in life is guaranteed.  Joy must be earned.

Indiana University’s Little 500 Weekend: #4 Greatest All-Time Moment by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The Little 500 was turned into an iconic event by the great film, “Breaking Away”.  That movie was a coming of age tale loosely based on the exploits of a dominant rider in the early 1960s.  The movie turned the kid into a quirky townie pedaling machine who drove his dad crazy.  He and his friends were aimless oafs who found their identities through winning the Little 500.

In truth, the race is the almost unnecessary centerpiece of a weekend long party.  Watching a bunch of thick-legged co-eds so completely misdirected in their energies that they choose to risk scrubbing cinders out of their legs for a week in order to participate in a race no one watches.  They’re like an unperpaid version of the Chicago Cubs.

The race does serve as a nice point of focus that makes bolting for a weekend palatable to spouses who don’t know any better, and that has always been the point, I guess.  We didn’t need many excuses to behave like children when we were comparatively hours removed from our true chronological adolescence, but as we are now likely closer to death than our freshman year in college, the trip to Bloomington for a weekend of stupidity requires better reasons to convince ourselves it’s worth the drive.

Indiana University’s Little 500 Weekend: #6 and #5 Greatest All-Time Moments by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The Little 500 has always reflected society’s view of fun.  The men running Indiana University used to not only look the other way, but there were rumors that they found the Little 500 every bit as much the excuse for overindulgence as the students.  Bill “Army” Armstrong, the president of the IU Foundation, appeared to be a long ways into his day by the time he ordered the riders to mount their Huffy Roadmaster Bicycles.

The students followed suit, at least through the Varsity Villa mailbox explosions of 1987.  Once that destruction was repeated in 1991, the hammer came down and the idiocy became too risky for the dopey students who heeded warnings.  Not knowing that an increased visual showing by police actually made avoiding arrest easier, the mood calmed precipitously in 1992.  That didn’t deter the people who understood how people in power operate.

The authorities of a potential disaster want nothing more than to avoid a disaster.  If you can enter into an implicit alliance with the cops and deans where it is made clear that nothing will blow up, and the fun will not show up on the news, they will let you do whatever the hell you want.  Embarrass them, and power will take hostages.

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