Purdue and Indiana University have spent all year battling to see who’s on top, but the essence of what Grand Prix and Little 500 mean to the schools is not so different.
John Haymond, a junior in the College of Agriculture, is the racer for Phi Delta Theta this year and feels the atmosphere at Purdue is created by the level of teamwork and collaboration that goes into making this race possible.
“We go out every day and work with each other, even talking to the other teams and hanging out,” Haymond said. “If you need something, the other teams will help you.”
Building a cart for the race is no small feat. The groups who enter Grand Prix are required to design the majority of their vehicle and make sure it is competitive.
“We procure a frame then help craft a roll cage, put in a seat and build a gas tank,” Haymond said. “All the tinkering is left up to the team, and Grand Prix is entertaining because these carts are going upward of 40 miles per hour.”
Indiana’s Little 500 race is similar in many ways. Yes, people watch cyclists go around the track rather than go-carts, but they still emphasize teamwork and competition.
Michael Heilman, a junior studying finance at Indiana, said the bike race means a lot to the school.
“It’s exciting to watch a tradition that’s been going on for a long time,” Heilman said. “I think there is an atmosphere of including everyone.”
He backed up his point further by stating that if he wanted to enter the race, all he had to do would be to get a team of three other members pass the qualifying round.
Grand Prix is set up in a similar fashion to allow anybody who’s interested to race. Haymond said that any group of individuals can fund raise and enter a cart.
“Any team can enter,” Haymond said. “Sometimes sororities and fraternities join together, and there are carts entered for other groups, like the society of Hispanic professional engineers and Indiana University — Purdue University Indianapolis.”
Indiana’s cycling race attracts more people to apply, perhaps being the reason it draws a bigger crowd to cheer on friends and family. However, the spirit of these events remains the same despite the differences in the actual races, and everyone can feel the excitement during the week.
Haymond also gave a word of advice as to how Purdue could improve Grand Prix.
“Well, they could get some parking out there.”