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Purdue’s mark on the Indianapolis 500

purdue band

For over a century, Purdue University has been welcoming race fans back home again for the Indianapolis 500

From the “All-American” Marching Band performing across the iconic yard of bricks to Purdue engineers in the pits, we have helped welcome fans back home again to Indiana for more than 100 years.

Back Home Again: Purdue and the Indy 500 

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In 1919, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band became the first band to perform as part of the day’s ceremonies. Their signature performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” is known to draw cheers and tears.

Over the years, Purdue has sent many of its world-renowned engineers to the race, too. Many got their start in Purdue’s own big race — the annual Grand Prix. Begun in 1958, Boilermaker students, who affectionately call it “The Greatest Spectacle in College Racing,” use the student-run race to exercise their skills and enthusiasm for motorsports. Generations of Purdue-trained engineers have since worked in the pits at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, preparing IndyCar drivers for the 500-mile race.

Over time, Boilermakers’ enthusiasm and involvement in the sport has only grown — from the pre-race parade to the pits. Dozens of Purdue women have served as ambassadors in the 500 Festival Princess Program, stepping into leadership opportunities that have shaped the entire state of Indiana. And Purdue has served as the host band for the AES 500 Festival Parade since its inception in 1957.

Start your engines and read on to explore how Boilermakers continue to shape the Indianapolis 500.


In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to IndyCar engineer Angela Ashmore. Angela, an engineer for Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda, is a lifelong motorsports fan. Her giant leap into professional racing came after relentless persistence and perseverance. Listen in as Angela discusses her experience with Purdue’s Formula Society of …

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A young Nathan O’Rourke could list every Indianapolis 500 winner since 1911. Since then, he's worked with some of the best known names in IndyCar and is currently living out his racing dreams.

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At the age of 11, Bill Pappas saved enough money to attend his first-ever Indianapolis 500. Since then, he has turned his dreams into a reality, along the way working with some of the biggest names in racing — Juan Pablo Montoya, Emerson Fittipaldi and A.J. Foyt.

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From the grandstands to pit row

Back Home Again: Purdue and the Indy 500 

STEP INSIDE: Purdue Grand Prix Foundation

Krupa Patel, a piccolo player in the Purdue “All-American” Marching band, poses with her instrument in her uniform.

Playing a part in an Indy 500 tradition, year after year

Jullianna Niebbia, senior, education, sociology ’22, is one of five Purdue women to be part of the 2022 500 Festival Princess program.

Redefining what it means to be a princess

Senior Delaney Tejcek, pre-law, communications and history minors, ’22, is one of five Purdue women to be part of the 2022 500 Festival Princess program.

Taking every opportunity to shape the future, empower others

Sophomore Emily Deldar (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences; and Psychological Sciences, ’24) is one of five Purdue women to be part of the 2022 500 Festival Princess program.

Empowering Indiana women through civic engagement

Golduster Sophia Strain poses in front of the Purdue Memorial Union in her Indianapolis 500 dancing uniform.

Becoming a part of Indianapolis 500 and Purdue history

Pappas offers Justin Wilson some encouragement before the start of the 2013 Indy 500.

Racing toward Indy 500 dreams

Golden Girl Amanda Coy has performed with the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band at the Indianapolis 500 since her freshman year as the Girl in Black. (Photo by John Underwood/Purdue University)

Seeing a community come together for race day

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