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Centennial Era Balloon Festival Returns May 8; Gin Blossoms To Play

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After a successful, popular debut in 2009, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T again will kick off Indianapolis 500 Mile Race activities for 2010 on Saturday, May 8.

The 2010 Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T will offer entertainment for every generation of the family, with a balloon race in the morning, late-afternoon live music featuring the Gin Blossoms and a balloon "glow" and fireworks in the IMS infield that evening.

Admission for Saturday afternoon and evening activities is free.

"We're pleased to welcome back AT&T as the presenting sponsor of the Centennial Era Balloon Festival," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and chief executive officer. "Their support was instrumental in the success of last year's festival, and we look forward to an even better event this May. The addition of the Gin Blossoms as the headline concert act adds even more appeal to a day of fun for everyone at IMS."

The Founders Race, with a field of 33 balloons (honoring the traditional number of starters for the Indianapolis 500) will launch at 7:30 a.m. (ET) May 8 - the same time the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon begins downtown.

More than 35,000 runners will circle the famed IMS oval during the "Mini." The runners and spectators lining Indianapolis streets will enjoy the colorful sight of balloons overhead.

Due to the Mini-Marathon, the IMS infield will be closed for the Founders Race balloon launch, but a number of vantage points are available around the IMS perimeter for fans to watch the balloon ascension.

The Speedway's public gates will open at 5 p.m. Live music on the Coca-Cola Music Stage kicks off at 5:15 p.m. with opening act Red Moon, followed by the Gin Blossoms. The Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T "glow" is at 8 p.m., and the grand-finale fireworks display is set for 9:15 p.m.

The Founders Race will take place Sunday, May 9 if weather forces cancellation on Saturday.

"The inaugural Centennial Era Balloon Festival in 2009 was a tremendous success, and we were proud to have our AT&T Real Yellow Pages brand serve as presenting sponsor," said Rhonda Bieda, area marketing manager, AT&T Advertising Solutions. "For 2010, everyone at AT&T is excited to partner with the Speedway to make this year's event an unforgettable experience for IMS fans and our customers."

Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T concert headliners Gin Blossoms exploded onto the popular music stage in 1992 with their major-label debut album "New Miserable Experience," which went platinum and spawned hit singles such as "Hey Jealousy," "Found Out About You" and "Allison Road."

The band enjoyed more success with the 1995 hit single "Till I Hear It From You," which appeared on the soundtrack for the film "Empire Records," and the 1996 release of their second album "Congratulations…I'm Sorry" and the single "Follow You Down."

Gin Blossoms disbanded in 1997, began touring again in the early 2000s and produced a new studio album, "Major Lodge Victory," in 2006 and enjoyed renewed popularity with hits "Learning the Hard Way" and "Heart Shaped Locket."

The Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T pays tribute to the first competitive event to take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: a helium gas-filled balloon competition on Saturday, June 5, 1909, more than two months before the oval was completed.

***

IMS tickets: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. In 2009, the Speedway began the three-year celebration of its Centennial Era, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.imstix.com at any time. Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information. 

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Centennial Era Balloon Festival Returns May 8; Gin Blossoms To Play
After a successful, popular debut in 2009, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T again will kick off Indianapolis 500 Mile Race activities for 2010 on Saturday, May 8. The 2010 Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T will offer entertainment for every generation of the family, with a balloon race in the morning, late-afternoon live music featuring the Gin Blossoms and a balloon "glow" and fireworks in the IMS infield that evening. Admission is free!
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