INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 22, 2009 -- Paying honor to the traditional starting field of 33 cars for the annual Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, a field of 33 balloons and pilots will compete in the three-day Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages on Friday, May 1 to Sunday, May 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hot air balloon pilots hailing from 13 states, stretching from California to Michigan, 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 a race during the Speedway's Centennial Era celebrations.

"Just as the Indy 500 showcases the best in motor racing, we have selected a strong lineup of colorful balloons and professional and personable pilots for the Centennial Era Balloon Festival," said event balloonmeister Scott McClinton. "The pilots are ready to put on a show, both at the evening glows and morning races from the IMS infield, that the public will not soon forget."

The Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages is one of many events over the next three years that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was founded and built in 1909, and the 100th anniversary of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

The Energizer Bunny "Hot Hare" Balloon, celebrating its 20th anniversary, will dwarf the competition in size. It's the world's tallest balloon at 166 feet. Balloons representing national brands such as AT&T Advertising Solutions, Target and RE/MAX will add their unique splash of color and character, mixing with Indiana favorites such as Bloomington-based Oliver Winery and the Riley Children's Foundation.

The public is invited to attend the Friday and Saturday evening balloon "glows," as well as the launch of the 100 Years Race on Sunday morning, all of which are free and will take place in the IMS infield. Public parking will be available in the IMS infield, and guests should plan to enter IMS via the Gate 2 tunnel on 16th Street.

For a complete schedule and list of Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages activities, visit


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 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.

<pre> ENTRY LIST: Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 1-3, 2009 (Tentative, subject to change)

Corporate Balloon                                  Pilot                Hometown
1 United Van Lines                                 Roy Caton            Cedar Hill, Mo.
2 Mayflower Transit                                Kevin Knapp          Fenton, Mo.
3 Energizer Bunny "Hot Hare"                       Glo Kehoe            Albuquerque, N.M.
4 AVocalOn                                         Tony Sandlin         Indianapolis
5 Post Cereals                                     David Jaques         East Leroy, Mich.
6 Target                                           George Ibach         Minneapolis
7 Jasper Engines & Transmissions                   Warren D. Smith      Bloomington, Ind.
8 Farmers Insurance Group                          Jeff Cable           Simi Valley, Calif.
9 Touchstone Energy Cooperatives                   Cheri White          Austin, Texas
10 Oliver Winery                                   Bill Oliver          Bloomington, Ind.
11 Oliver Winery                                   Travis Vencel        Bloomington, Ind.
12 Applebee's                                      Ken Lubben           Homer Glen, Ill.
13 Stars and Heights: Taking Riley to New Heights  Mark Westra          Greenfield, Ind.
14 AT&T Advertising Solutions                      Tim Basey            Louisville, Ky.
15 Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation                Al Hansen            Winamac, Ind.
16 IMTS                                            Patrick Fogue        Columbia, Mo.
17 Indianapolis Motor Speedway*                    Carl Young           DeWitt, Iowa
18 RE/MAX                                          Jeff Menchhofer      McCordsville, Ind.
Sport Balloonists       Hometown
19 Dave Champion        Paxton, Ill.
20 Steward Gibboney     Grove City, Ohio
21 Frank McCrory        Floyds Knobs, Ind.
22 Pat Newell           Noblesville, Ind.
23 Tom Steinbock        Crestwood, Ky.
24 Phil Thompson        Galena, Ill.
25 Ken Walter           Waukesha, Wis.
26 Chase Donner         Indianapolis
27 Jerry Copas          Sellersburg, Ind.
28 Gary Moore           Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
29 Paul Petrehn         Howell, Mich.
30 Shawn Raya           Oxford, Mich.
31 David Troutman       Louisville, Ky.
32 Dave Bobel           Rochester, Ind.
33 Chris Smart          Huntington, Ind.

*Will serve as the "Hare balloon" during the Founders Race and 100 Years Race.

</pre> -credit: ims