Wednesday, May 5, 2010

33 balloons set for Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T May 8 at IMS

Morning race, free Gin Blossoms concert, "glow," fireworks highlight busy day May 8

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 5, 2010 - Paying honor to the traditional starting field of 33 cars for the annual Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, a field of 33 balloons and pilots is set for the Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T on Saturday, May 8 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hot air balloon pilots hailing from 12 states, stretching from California to New Jersey, will launch from the IMS infield in both corporate-sponsored and unsponsored "sport" balloons. Indiana is well-represented with 13 pilots vying for prize money and the prestige associated with winning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Several balloons have notable ties to the Speedway. The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, founded by Indianapolis 500 veteran and Firestone Indy Lights/Indianapolis 500 team owner Sam Schmidt, sponsors the balloon piloted by Al Hansen of Winamac, Ind. Hansen's balloon has a wheelchair-accessible balloon, and Hansen gives rides throughout the year to guests with disabilities. Schmidt and his two children will fly with Hansen Saturday.

Centennial Era Balloon Festival presenting sponsor AT&T is represented with two balloons for 2010, and popular Bloomington, Ind., wine destination Oliver Winery will have two balloons plus a wine tasting station near the Pagoda Plaza.

The pilots will compete in the Founders Race, scheduled for a 7:30 a.m. (ET) launch on May 8. Although the IMS infield will be closed at that time due to the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, fans can watch the balloons ascend from numerous points outside the IMS grounds.

IMS welcomes the public to walk among the balloons in the Speedway's infield at the Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T balloon "glow" Saturday night. With free admission and a concert by popular rock band the Gin Blossoms, followed by the "glow" at 8 p.m. and fireworks at 9:15 p.m., the evening will be filled with entertainment for all ages.

Fans should enter IMS via Gate 9A, located on Georgetown Road just north of 25th Street. Gates open at 5 p.m., with wine tasting courtesy of Oliver Winery, balloons courtesy of "Matt the Balloon Guy" and other attractions opening at the same time. Live music begins at 5:15.

If the Founders Race is rained out on Saturday morning, the race will be rescheduled for Sunday, May 9 at 7:30 a.m. The IMS Grounds will be open via Gate 2 (the main gate/tunnel on 16th Street) and accessible as far as the Hall of Fame Museum parking lot.


Lilyzmom said...

This was absolutely amazing! I have lived in Indianapolis all my life and so I have seen the balloons go over each year. This year was different though. This year my dogs woke me up barking early and of course I was upset, after all it was 7:30 on Sunday morning! But, then, I got up to take them out and saw not only the dozens in the sky but two that were landing, literally, in my backyard!! There is a field right behind the apartment complex where we live and teo balloons landed right there. Of course by the end there were a dozen people standing around, but my husband and I and our dogs were the first!! I got to walk right up to the basket and talk with the pilot and even touch the basket. I just had to share this amazing experience. I just wish I could send the pictures too!

XPDR said...

Send the pictures to - we'd love to post them!