A Fan's Guide To Centennial Era Balloon Festival May 1-3 At IMS

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

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The Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages is the first major gathering of hot-air balloons at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in almost 20 years, and with 33 balloons poised to take to the sky, the largest in the track's storied history.

As with all the Speedway's exciting racing events, knowing the balloon lingo and rules, understanding the effect weather can have on the event and preparing for a visit to IMS will add to every fan's enjoyment of the balloon festival.

Here's what to expect and see Friday, May 1 through Sunday, May 3 at the Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages:

"Hare and Hound" Races: The May 2 "Founders Race" and May 3 "100 Years Race" at the Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages will use the "Hare and Hound" race format.

The "Hare" balloon for this event will be the black balloon carrying the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Era and Centennial Era Balloon Festival logos. It will be the first balloon to leave the ground, flying approximately 15 minutes in front of the other balloons, and fly to an appropriate landing spot where a race official will place an "X" target on the ground.

The "Hound" balloons - the rest of the field - attempt to navigate to the Hare's landing site and drop a 2-ounce bean bag closest to the center of the "X." The winner is the pilot who drops a bean bag closest to the center of the "X."

Balloons reach an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet during races, but pilots will attempt to descend as close to the target as possible when dropping the bean bag.

Glows: A balloon "glow" is designed around inflated, tethered hot-air balloons using their burners to light the colorful balloons, similar to a candle. The balloons remain on the ground throughout glows, and the general public is welcome to walk around the balloons and talk to the pilots and crew.

Typical activities at a balloon glow may include an "all glow" when all of the balloons light up at once; a "twinkle glow" with each of the balloons randomly glowing to cast a candle effect; and a "wave glow," having the balloons sequentially, in a row, glow in order.

The Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages balloon glows are set for 8 p.m. Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2 in the middle of the IMS infield.

Weather: Hot-air ballooning depends on calm weather. Balloons cannot fly in rain and, due to safety considerations, cannot launch if ground-level winds are greater than 10 mph. A balloon "glow" can take place in slightly windier conditions, if on-site weather and event authorities determine it can be conducted safely. Glows cannot take place in rain.

Admission and parking for the Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages are free to the public, and IMS customers should plan to enter the IMS grounds via Gate 2, the main gate/tunnel on 16th Street between Turns 1 and 2 of the oval. IMS Safety Patrol and security personnel will direct customers to the proper parking area.

For more information on the Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages, such as a complete schedule, more "Fast Facts" and ancillary events, visit www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/balloonfest.

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Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages Fast Facts

WHAT:           Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages, featuring 33 hot-air balloons. Admission and parking are free to the public.

WHERE:        Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield*

*Saturday morning's "Founders Race" launches from the "North 40" lot north of the oval

WHEN:           Friday, May 1-Sunday, May 3

May 1:

7 p.m.: Gates open (Gate 2)

 

7:15 p.m.: Balloon lot opens

 

7:30 p.m.: Live performance by Casey Jamerson, Coke Zero Stage

 

8-9 p.m., Balloon "glow"

   

May 2:

7:30 a.m.: Founders Race begins (no public access to IMS grounds due to OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon)

 

6 p.m.: Gates open (Gate 2)

 

6 p.m.: AT&T Real Yellow Pages Collectible Pin Distribution, Oliver Winery Wine Tasting, "Matt the Balloon Guy" Entertainment

 

6:30 p.m.: Live performances featuring Josh Kelley, Ryan Cabrera, The Kin and Brandon Whyde

 

8-9 p.m.: Balloon "glow"

 

9 p.m.: Fireworks

   

May 3:

7 a.m.: Gates open (Gate 2)

 

7:30 a.m.: 100 Years Race begins

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2009 IMS tickets: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. Beginning in 2009, the Speedway celebrates 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 for the three events in 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - the Indianapolis 500, Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Red Bull Indianapolis GP - can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.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.