The Little 500
In 1951 Howdy Wilcox started a bicycle race which he modeled after the Indianapolis 500. The Little 500 was founded in order to raise scholarship money for students that were working jobs in order to pay their tuition. The race has been held every year and for nearly 70 years, it has become the landmark event each April at Indiana University.
The "Little 5" is a 50 mile bike race, 200 laps around a quarter mile track. The field consists of 33 teams competing on a cinder track in a relay-style race where “bike exchanges” are completed between riders as they attempt to complete the 200 laps. All teams are required to use the same single speed, coaster brake equipped bikes which are made specifically for the race each year. This maintains a level playing field, not only for the current race, but from year to year as well. In the past, the race has been broadcast nationally on CBS, AXS, and ESPN. Some past races are also available on YouTube.
The Little 500 is more than a college bike race; it is a unique spectacle in American sports. It is the largest collegiate bike race drawing approximately 25,000 spectators each year, and It is also the longest continuously running bike race in the USA. It served as the basis for the Academy Award winning film, Breaking Away. Little 500 weekend is referred to as “The World’s Greatest College Weekend” and fans come from across the country to take in the atmosphere and enjoy the racing.
The pageantry coupled with superb racing, make the Little 500 a bucket list item for riders and sports fans alike.
Sigma Chi Involvement
Sigma Chi has a long history of racing in The Little 500. We placed seventh in our first attempt in 1952 and we have continued to be a highly competitive team ever since. Including 2017, Sigma Chi has claimed 26 top ten finishes. In 1994, behind the strong riding of Randy Spruill, ΣΧ Racing won the race and brought home the Borg Warner championship trophy in a dominant performance.
Each year, Sigma Chi brothers join the team and dedicate themselves to competing at their highest level. The riders come from a variety of backgrounds. Some guys have prior riding experience, while others are athletes who thrive on competition and thirst for the opportunity to participate with a strong team in front of thousands of fans. ΣΧ riders put in many hours of training, beginning in the summer and leading right up until race day. That's when they truly put it all on the line for the thrill of competing in the Little 500 and representing Sigma Chi. Almost to a man, ΣΧ Racing Team alumni will tell you that being a part of the team, and part of the Little 500, was the most rewarding experience they had while on campus at IU.
Over the past ten years Sigma Chi has posted six top ten finishes, narrowly missing out on the checkered flag on several occasions. in back-to-back years (2011 and 2012) we finished on the podium in 3rd place. The mission of Sigma Chi Racing is to add another Borg Warner to the Sigma Chi trophy case.