* Purdue Grand Prix Foundation

March 31, 2008

Purdue's 51st Grand Prix race to be last on four-decade-old track

Liz Lehmann
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The days leading up to Purdue University's 51st annual Grand Prix kart race on April 19 will focus on community involvement while saying goodbye to the track that has been the race's home for the last 40 years.

This year's race is expected to be the last run on the track north of Ross-Ade Stadium. Originally built in 1968, the track is being eliminated to make way for the renovation and expansion of Mackey Arena. A new track is being built at the corner of McCormick Road and Cherry Lane.

"This race will be bittersweet since drivers have been running on the track since the 11th Grand Prix," said Doug Lantz, president of the Grand Prix Foundation. "The track was modeled after the World Kart Championship Track in Japan and has been a great home for Grand Prix, but we also are excited about moving to a new racing area next year."

The first race was run in 1958 on North Intramural Field and an adjacent parking lot. The fifth location, ready in 2009, will be near the new athletic fields at the northwest edge of campus. More details will be available online at

Grand Marshal Chris Foster
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This year, 51 Purdue student drivers will compete for the trophy in what has been called the "Greatest Spectacle in College Racing." The event's grand marshal is Christian J. Foster, the first gentleman of Purdue. Foster, husband of Purdue President France A. Córdova, serves as director of K-12 programs at Discovery Park, Purdue's interdisciplinary research hub. He oversees programming for kindergarten through high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Previously, Foster served as director of undergraduate research in the Bourns College of Engineering at UC Riverside from 2002–2007. Foster is a science educator with more than 30 years of teaching and research to his credit. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Foster held the position of academic outreach coordinator in the College of Letters and Science. He also worked previously as deputy assistant director for education at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Foster holds a master's degree in teaching from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and a bachelor's degree in earth sciences from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

"We are excited to have the first gentleman of Purdue serve as our grand marshal," Lantz said. "We're happy to welcome Chris and President Córdova to Purdue and pleased that Chris will be able to help us kick off this great Boilermaker tradition. He seems very excited about his first Grand Prix."

Qualifications are scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. April 12, and from 5:30-8 p.m. April 14-15. The fastest driver on the first day of qualifying will earn the pole position, and time trials will determine 27 of the 33 starting positions. The final six spots on the starting grid will go to the top two finishers in each of three heat races on race day.

The 160-lap feature race starts at 2:30 p.m. April 19, with driver introductions and the national anthem. Pits are open to the public from 9-10 a.m., and track seating is open to the public at 10 a.m. Practice is from 10:10-11 a.m., and heat races start at 11:20 a.m.

Parking is available near the north half of Ross-Ade Stadium, Lot H, at no cost. In addition, campus parking garages are free to visitors on weekends.

In the event of rain, the race will be delayed to wait for a break in the weather. If rain persists, the race will be rescheduled for Sunday, April 20.

Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the gate. Programs are $3, and the official Grand Prix T-shirt is $10. A race package also is available for purchase this year. The $15 cost includes a ticket, race program and a T-shirt, while supplies last.

Advance tickets will be on sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 14-17 at two locations: on the Engineering Mall outside the materials and electrical engineering building and outside the Class of 1950 Lecture Hall. Tickets also will be sold on Memorial Mall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 18. The rain location for ticket sales is in the main lobby of Stewart Center.

Advance tickets also can be purchased by sending a check payable to the Grand Prix Foundation at: Purdue Grand Prix Foundation, Attn: Tickets --Tracy Rinker, Stewart Center, Box 502, West Lafayette, IN 47906.

All presale ticket orders submitted by mail must be postmarked by April 4. A full name, e-mail address and a phone number also should be included with the ticket order. Forms for advance ticket sales can be accessed and printed online from the Purdue Grand Prix Web site. An e-mail confirmation will be sent upon receipt of presale ticket orders. Tickets can be claimed at the ticket booths during Grand Prix Day on April 18 on Memorial Mall or on race day, and an ID will be required to claim tickets. Questions regarding ticket sales should be directed to Tracy Rinker, director sales, at

On April 13, the Grand Prix Foundation will host Grand Prix Community Day from noon to 4 p.m. at the track. Advance tickets for the race will be available for purchase during the event.

Rinker said the event is geared toward families and community members. Kart drivers will sign autographs and practice on the track, and Purdue athletes will welcome guests. Indianapolis 500 Festival princesses also will appear.

"Grand Prix is a great college tradition, but it is meaningful to many more people than the students who attend Purdue," Rinker said. "We want to encourage families and people in the area to experience what fun Grand Prix can be. This is not a college-student only event. Grand Prix Community Day will give people a chance to get a taste of what Grand Prix is all about. We'd like to see them come back and enjoy the race as well."

The Grand Prix Student Ambassadors will promote other events before the main race on April 19. They are Jessica Markstrom, a junior studying mathematics education from Northville, Mich., and Danielle Brannon, a junior studying political science from Livermore, Calif. Ambassadors serve as spokespeople for the Grand Prix Foundation, encouraging race support and business sponsorship and also perform various other duties alongside the Senior Board. The ambassadors each received a $1,000 scholarship from the Purdue Grand Prix Foundation. Fifteen other students received scholarships ranging from $250 to $750.

The Grand Prix Foundation will host a recognition and victory banquet at 6 p.m. April 21 at University Inn, 3001 Northwestern Ave., West Lafayette. All drivers and team members are invited to attend.

The Purdue Grand Prix Foundation is a student-run, nonprofit organization that conducts the kart race and related events to raise money for scholarships. The foundation also receives support from Toyota Motor Corp., Coca-Cola, Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics, WAZY 96.5, WLFF 95.3, WSHP 95.7, Purdue Memorial Union and ROCKSTAR energy drink.

Writer: Tanya Brown, (765) 494-2079,

Sources: Doug Lantz,

Tracy Rinker, (317) 403-6899,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Liz Lehmann, a junior majoring in management from Fort Wayne, is hoisted onto the shoulders of her teammates after winning the 50th Purdue Grand Prix on April 21, 2007. Lehmann, driving for the Purdue Motorsports Association, was the first female driver to win the 50-mile race. This year's race begins at 2:30 p.m. April 19, with driver introductions and the national anthem. Pits are open to the public from 9-10 a.m., and the track is open to the public at 10 a.m. Practice and sprint races continue until race time. (Purdue News Service photo/ J. Michael Willis)

Publication-quality photo of last year's Grand Prix winner available at:

Photo of grand marshal, Chris Foster available at:

Note to Journalists: Media covering Grand Prix should check in at the ticket booth at the track to receive a media packet and credentials. For more information, contact Tanya Brown, Purdue News Service, at (765) 494-2079 or e-mail

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