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Purdue’s 54th Grand Prix set for April 16

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University’s 54th annual Grand Prix race will take place this coming Saturday (April 16).

Photo from 2009 Purdue Grand Prix

Runner-up, Senior Sean Noonan, navigates traffic during the 2009 Grand Prix race.

The race will be near the track at the corner of McCormick Road and Cherry Lane in West Lafayette.

The event has two grand marshals, Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter, as part of the race’s new partnership with the IZOD IndyCar series. Fisher is owner of Sarah Fisher Racing and has competed in nine Indianapolis 500 races, the most of any woman in the race’s history. Carpenter is now driving for Sarah Fisher Racing.

“We are really excited to have Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter as our grand marshals,” said Greg Vandeloo, promotions director of the Grand Prix Foundation. “The incredible talent and presence of these drivers will be a special experience for fans attending this year’s race.”

Justin Penix, a junior from Indianapolis majoring in mechanical engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, won last year’s race.

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 Saturday (April 9). Practice for qualifications starts at 11:20 a.m., and the 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 will enter the main event to round out the 33-kart starting grid.

The 160-lap feature race starts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (April 16) with driver introductions and the national anthem. Pits are open to the public from 8:45-9:45 a.m., and track seating is open to the public at 8:45 a.m. Practice is from 9:55-10:45 a.m., and heat races start at 11:15 a.m.

Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the gate. Programs are $10, the official Grand Prix T-shirt is $10 and hooded sweatshirts are $20. A $20 race package also is available that includes a ticket, race program and a T-shirt.

Advance tickets will be on sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Thursday (April 14) at three locations: Stewart Center, outside the Class of 1950 Lecture Hall and Lilly Hall. Tickets also will be sold on Memorial Mall from 9 am. to 4 p.m. Friday (April 15). Tickets also can be purchased by emailing

The Grand Prix Student Ambassadors promote the event leading up the race. They are Simon May of Fort Wayne, who’s studying advertising and sales marketing, and Carolyn Collins of Indianapolis, who’s studying chemical engineering.

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. Monday (April 18) at the Beck Agricultural Center, 4540 U.S. 52 West in West Lafayette. All drivers and team members are invited to attend. Drivers and team members who would like to attend should RSVP to

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 Jimmy Johns, Coca-Cola, Spurlock’s, Chick-fil-A, Puccini’s Smiling Teeth Restaurant,, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Taco Bell, Lockheed Martin, Bosch, BOB 95.3, WSHP 95.7, WAZY 96.5, Wright Implements, Fairfield Manufacturing and NOS Energy.

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