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Into The Wild: The Little 500

[Into The Wild is, we're hoping, a regular feature about sports in strange, far-off places. Like, let's say, Indiana. Here's the deal--the next time you go someplace weird, bring a camera, then write a diary and email us the pictures. We'll be happy to take care of the rest. This first installment comes from longtime friend of the program TheBlackMetalMcGrath. Will you be the next featured Into The Wild columnist? Not if you don't write something up first, fuckwad. As always, send all pictures, tips, or paternity accusations to OopsPowBlog or BlackHeartGoldPants at the gmail. --OPS]

Into The Wild:  Bloomington, Indiana

After about a year an a half of dating TheBlackMetalGirlfriend and hearing how Indiana's Little 500 is the greatest thing in the history of college, I made the trip.  To give a slight background on the event, Little 5 is a 200-lap bike race on a ¼ mile track, 33 teams qualify, and standard NASCAR rules apply (there was even a pace car).  Lance Armstrong was quoted, saying it's "The World's Greatest College Weekend" a few years back, but he's said a lot of things.

(keep reading for photo-essay greatness)

The race was depicted in the Oscar-winning 1979 film Breaking Away.  A brief overview of the plot synopsis creates a chicken-or-the-egg paradox with Revenge of the Nerds.  Geek wants the girl, girl wants frat boy, geek triumphs over frat boy in front of the girl and his bros, no poon for frat boy.  It was also Daniel Stern's first major role.

Unfortunately, it was not Stern's last.

We made it into town in time for the women's race. It's half as long as the men's race on the following day, and followed standard women's sports protocol. The fan went wild. The weather was decent and Sen. Obama made an appearance shortly before the race got going.

Unfortunately the good weather made the track conditions better than they should have been for racing, and there were no major pile up crashes or morgue visits.

click the picture for a camel's foot

Through the BMG's connections I went to a post race reception at the basketball stadium (WTF with the cash bar), which immediately put me on a mission to get a shot of you-know-who, this was appropriately positioned next to the men's room.

The weekend almost ground to a halt when Bloomington's finest stopped the car I was in, I naturally panicked, it was a turn signal and nothing to do with my seatbelt or the 18-box of the official BlackMetalBeverage on my lap. The pig let us off with a warning. Score: Bloomington 1, Iowa City 0.  The rest of Friday carried on as it should have in any college town, but this one has a drinking game named after the German WWII battle cruiser The Bismarck (yes, this one), very cool. The crowd I was with made the whole thing a little ironic. I wanted to use something like Bitburger or Warsteiner, but had to settle for Bud Light (you got a problem with that?).

The men's race.  Last night's armed naval conflict and cold, altogether shitty weather put my mood somewhere south of a Morrissey album, but a couple hot dogs got me to man up and we headed back to the stadium. There was a definite buzz at the track and the festivities around it, but entirely different than what you get around an official NCAA event.

The event's premise is that the competition is entirely made up of sub-amateur athletes, which in some aw shucks way is kind of cool. In fact, it's probably the biggest college intramural event in the county (I did 0% research, but it has to be close). Anyone who's been to an Iowa football game would be confused at the pure lack of drunken hillbillies stumbling around with chili stains on their Carhardt overalls. [right, Iowa's the only place in all of America with farmers. c'mon.--ops]

Hey, it's some Hawkeyes! Without chili stains! Weird!

The rain picked up, and we headed out at lap 66.  The one take away I got from the whole event was the uniqueness of the tradition. Greatest college weekend? I'm not sure Lance, because honestly you could substitute the crowd and festivities into any big college sports weekend.  Cheers IU for having something different.

The pizza van: vehicle of choice for adult-molesters.