56th Purdue Grand Prix set for April 20

April 4, 2013  

2012 Grand Prix Blake Deister

Blake Deister of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis won the 55th annual Purdue University Grand Prix race in 2012. (Purdue News Service photo/Andrew Hancock)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University's 56th Grand Prix race will take place April 20 at the Grand Prix track on campus, near the corner of McCormick Road and Cherry Lane.

Chuck Sprague, a Purdue alumnus who won the Grand Prix in 1976 and works for Penske Racing, will serve as grand marshal for the event. Sprague, who earned a degree in industrial engineering from Purdue, began his professional racing career in 1978 as a mechanic for a 5-liter Can-Am racing team. He then worked as a crew member, chief mechanic and team manager in IndyCar racing for team owner Roger Penske.

During Sprague's tenure at Penske Racing, the team recorded 76 IndyCar victories, eight Indianapolis 500 victories and five national championships with drivers Rick Mears, Bobby Unser, Al Unser Sr., Danny Sullivan, Emerson Fittipaldi, Paul Tracy and Al Unser Jr. In 1999 he created a new company for Penske Racing to conduct specialized racing-oriented events for key Penske sponsors.

"We are very excited to have Chuck Sprague as our grand marshal," said Mary Farlow, promotions director of the Grand Prix Foundation. "He is part of Purdue's strong, historic connection to the auto racing industry. Participating in the Tarkington Hall Grand Prix program when he was a student here was the beginning of his racing career."

Blake Deister, a junior from Mooresville, Ind., studying computer science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, won last year's race. Drivers from IUPUI have won the last three races.

This year, 33 student drivers will compete for the trophy in what has been called the "Greatest Spectacle in College Racing."

Qualifications will take place April 13. Practice for qualifications starts at 11:30 a.m., and the main time trials are at noon. The top 27 qualifiers will be in the main event on race day. Top finishers in three qualifying sprints will fill six other slots on race day. The top two karts from each sprint race on April 20 will enter the main event to round out the 33-kart starting grid.

The 160-lap feature race starts at 2:30 p.m. April 20 with driver introductions and the national anthem. Pits are open to the public from 8-9:45 a.m., and track seating is open to the public at 8:45 a.m. Practice is from 9:55 -10:50 a.m. Heat races start at 11:30 a.m. Free shuttle service will be available to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with pick-up locations at Ross-Ade Stadium, Stewart Center and Wiley Dining Hall.

Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the gate. Tickets for children under age 12 are $5.

Advance tickets will be on sale April 13-14 during Purdue's Spring Fest at the Grand Prix tent on Memorial Mall. Ticket sales will continue April 16 in the Stewart Center lobby, outside of the Class of 1950 Lecture Hall, on the Engineering Mall and in the Purdue Memorial Union basement. Tickets also can be purchased by emailing sales@purduegrandprix.org

Grand Prix Student Ambassadors promote the event leading up to the race. They are Danielle Field, a junior who is a first-year professional student in the College of Pharmacy, and Jill Griffin, a junior in the College of Agriculture studying agribusiness management.

Among their duties, ambassadors serve as spokespeople for the Grand Prix Foundation and encourage race support and business sponsorship. The ambassadors each received a $1,000 scholarship from the Grand Prix Foundation. Sixteen other students received scholarships ranging from $250-$750.

The Grand Prix Foundation will host a recognition and victory banquet at 6 p.m. April 21 in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom. All drivers and team members are invited to attend. Drivers and team members planning to attend should RSVP to business@purduegrandprix.org

The Grand Prix Foundation is a student-run, nonprofit group that conducts the kart race and related events to raise money for scholarships. The foundation also receives support from Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin, Purdue Student Government, Monster, Bill DeFouw Chevrolet, Ferguson, Chauncey Square, Rolls Royce, AEC, Hungry Boiler, SVO, Buffalo Wild Wings, Bosch, SOGA, WAZY, WLFI, Insomnia Cookies, and Greyhouse Coffee and Supply.

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu

Source: Mary Farlow, director of promotions for Purdue Grand Prix Foundation, 260-571-8043, promotions@purduegrandprix.org

Note to Journalists: Media interested in covering the race should contact Mary Farlow, promotions director for the Purdue Grand Prix Foundation, at 260-571-8043 or promotions@purduegrandprix.org

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