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Fans pack Bloomington stadium for first in-person Little 500 since start of pandemic

Fans at the men's Little 500 race on Saturday.
George Hale
Fans at the men's Little 500 race on Saturday.

Bloomington’s and Indiana University’s most beloved tradition returned along with its fans over the weekend after two long years away.

The annual Little 500 draws tens of thousands of visitors each spring to party and watch the race, in which four-member teams compete on a quarter-mile track.

READ MORE: Fans returning to Little 500 for first time since 2019

For half of IU’s undergraduates, this year’s race was their earliest chance to attend.

Organizers held last year’s events without fans in May and cancelled the race altogether at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

It was also the first time for Pamela Whitten — IU’s president since July.

“Students have been great about schooling me all year in what Little Five is and the traditions and how it’s run and put together, and then what happens on race day. So, I feel ready,” Whitten said ahead of the men's race.

The Phi Delta Theta fraternity's team won first place in the men's race on Saturday, finishing at just over 2 hours and 15 minutes.

The last time a fraternity took the top prize was in 2016.

READ MORE: History Through Headlines: The Inaugural Little 500

The Melanzana Cycling team placed first in the women’s race a day earlier, finishing in just over 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Friday’s win was the group’s first since it began competing.

Modeled after the Indianapolis 500, the Little 500 was first held in 1951.