Purdue’s mark on the Indianapolis 500

Purdue welcomes 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. 

In 1919, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band became the first band to perform as part of the day’s ceremonies. Its 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. Since 1958, Boilermaker students, who affectionately call it “The Greatest Spectacle in College Racing,” use the student-run go-kart race to exercise their skills and enthusiasm for motorsports. Generations of Purdue-trained engineers have worked in the pits at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, preparing IndyCar drivers for the 500-mile race. 

Boilermakers’ enthusiasm and involvement in the sport has only grown — from the prerace 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 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.

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