It might be the sight of thousands of runners streaming through the city streets on the first Saturday in May in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. It might be seeing a favorite driver, bands and colorful floats during the IPL 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis on the day before the race.
It might be the spine-tingling sensation of 33 race cars, lined up in 11 rows of three, roaring down the front stretch at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 225 mph to take the start at the hallowed “Yard of Bricks.” It might be the winner drinking the coveted bottle of milk while posing with the Borg-Warner Trophy.
Whatever part of the magical month captures fans’ imagination, everything in May in Indianapolis centers around two things: spirit and speed.
“Spirit and Speed” is the theme for the month-long celebration leading up to the 91st Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The theme was announced Nov. 14 by Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 500 Festival officials, and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. at the Indianapolis Artsgarden.
Officials also announced plans for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the 500 Festival, a not-for-profit organization that started in 1957 and has grown into one of the largest festivals in the United States.
“The Indianapolis 500 captivates race fans around the world with its pageantry, tradition and intense competition, so ‘Spirit and Speed’ is a perfect theme for the 2007 race,” said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “May is a special month in central Indiana, and we’re pleased to help celebrate 50 great years of the 500 Festival, which has done so much to further raise the profile of the greatest race in the world.”
“Spirit and Speed” will be prominent in local and national Indianapolis 500 advertising and promotional materials and 500 Festival event materials. It also will be an important part of the many events that take place in Indianapolis during the month of May.
Those events include the traditional start to month of May activities, the 31st Running of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on Saturday, May 5 and also include American Family Insurance 500 Festival Community Day on Wednesday, May 23 at IMS and the IPL 500 Festival Parade on Saturday, May 26, to name a few. Track activity opens Sunday, May 6.
“We are thrilled with this year’s theme of ‘Spirit and Speed;’ it’s a testament to the partnership that has existed between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 500 Festival for the past 50 years,” said Cindy Simon Skjodt, chairman, 500 Festival Board of Directors. “So much spirit and energy stir in the city during the month of May.”
500 Festival events and programs celebrate the success of the Indianapolis 500 and add to the quality of life for the citizens of Indiana and their guests. The events and programs, mostly free and produced largely by volunteers, enhance the image of Indianapolis and Indiana to more than 425,000 attendees by showcasing the city and state’s cultural, educational and social benefits to the world.
“The 500 Festival helps shape our city’s identity, and it continues to be an integral part of the Indianapolis civic fabric, stretching far beyond our city’s and state’s borders,” said Kirk Hendrix, president and CEO, 500 Festival. “With annual participation of more than 425,000 people and 7,000 volunteers who make it happen, it has become one of the largest festivals in the nation.”
Special artwork to be used with the “Spirit and Speed” theme was unveiled during the announcement. Hornish, the Borg-Warner Trophy and event logo also are featured on the 2007 Indianapolis 500 ticket design, which was displayed for the first time during the ceremony.
The 500 Festival also announced a major art initiative. The 500 Festival Legacy Art Project celebrates the Festival’s impact of 50 years and pays tribute to volunteer and community spirit. The 500 Festival will commission an artist to create a significant art piece, which will have a permanent place in downtown Indianapolis. The artist will be announced in May 2007, and the 500 Festival’s Legacy Art Project will be unveiled in May 2008.