Month of May gets underway Saturday at IMS Alternative energy will take center stage Saturday, May 7 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the celebration of the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 gets underway with Emerging Tech Day and the Allison Transmission Balloon Festival.
Gates are open from noon-10 p.m., with entry from noon-2 p.m. only through Gate 10 (30th Street) and entry at Gate 2 (Main Gate, 16th Street) also available starting at 2 p.m. Admission is free, with a variety of activities for all ages.
Emerging Tech Day, presented by Allison Transmission, Indianapolis Power & Light, Duke Energy and the U.S. Army, celebrates the Speedway as a proving ground and showcase for sustainable automotive technology. It will feature more than 80 universities racing from noon-5 p.m. in cars designed by students using solar, electric and hybrid power in the Formula Hybrid, Formula Sun Grand Prix and Purdue evGrand Prix series.
Formula Hybrid, founded and organized by Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, challenges college and university students to design, build and race high-performance, plug-in hybrid vehicles. Building on the Formula SAE program, Formula Hybrid adds an extra level of complexity: fuel efficiency.
TheFormula Sun Grand Prix is a track-based event that tests solar cars' ability to handle curves, braking and acceleration. FSGP events are run in conjunction with the American Solar Challenge, a competition to design, build and drive solar-powered cars in a cross-country time/distance rally event that covers between 1,200 to 1,500 miles between multiple cities.
Purdue evGrandPrix competitors will race electric-powered karts in a race similar to the famous Purdue Grand Prix kart competition. The Purdue evGrandPrix was launched in 2010 as part of the electric vehicle initiative by Purdue University, located in nearby West Lafayette, Ind.
Another alternative-energy attraction will feature two-time Indianapolis 500 starter Billy Roe driving and displaying an electric-powered Indy-style car.
Roe's electric car is a 1985 Lola once driven in the Indianapolis 500 by Ludwig Heimrath Jr. The car was converted to electric power in 1993 by Tommy Brawner, who is the nephew of famed chief mechanic Clint Brawner, builder of the car Mario Andretti drove to victory in the 1969 Indianapolis 500. Known as the Brawner EX 11, Roe's unique machine topped 100 mph nearly two decades ago.
Indianapolis native Roe believes retired Indy-style cars could help influence car builders to focus more on electronic technology for automobiles.
"I would like to see old Indy cars that are not going to be used and have all the colleges acquire them somehow and race electric Indy cars against each other," Roe said. "I think that's what it's going to take to develop the electric automobile industry and get it popular and get people behind it."
A variety of car manufacturers also will provide electric-vehicle "ride and drives" for the public. The EV Rally will allow owners of electric automobiles to drive a lap in their car around the famed IMS oval from 4-5 p.m. Participants must pre-register at http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/indy500/eventinfo/42303/.
The Allison Transmission Balloon Festival will take place in the evening, with a "glow" of 33 hot-air balloons - a tribute to the 33-car starting field for the Indianapolis 500 - scheduled for 8 p.m. Fireworks will conclude the day's activities at 9 p.m.
Other family fun scheduled for Saturday includes the Yoga 500, a free yoga class at 2 p.m. in the Plaza Pavilion for participants of all ages and levels, presented by Yoga Center of Indianapolis and Lululemon Indy. Face painting also takes place from 6-8 p.m. in the Pagoda Plaza, and Allison Transmission Balloon Festival collectible pins will be distributed - while supplies last - starting at 7:15 p.m. in the southwest corner of the N Lot in the IMS infield.
Music also will fill the air all day at IMS. A variety of local, regional and national acts will perform from 12:30-8:30 p.m. on the Coca-Cola Stage in the Pagoda Plaza, including Zanadoo at 12:30 p.m., Toy Factory at 3 p.m., Dreamers of the Ghetto at 4 p.m., We Are Hex at 5 p.m., Beta Male at 6 p.m. and Steel Train at 7 p.m.
Indianapolis Star Opening Day/Celebration of Automobiles on Saturday, May 14 is the next day of public activity at IMS after Emerging Tech Day and the Allison Transmission Balloon Festival this Saturday.