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Purdue Grand Prix


Historical Information

The first Grand Prix took place on May 17, 1958. The Purdue Grand Prix created by students who wished to exercise their engineering knowledge. Over the years the Grand Prix has raised funds to provide scholarships to students. The Foundation centers on its motto of "students helping students."

The first race was run on North Intramural Field and an adjacent parking lot. Each kart was built from scratch, had a lawnmower engine, and could barely exceed 30 m.p.h. After 144 laps or 60 miles and an average speed of 22.6 m.p.h., James Moneyhun of Gable Courts, later known as Terry Courts, became the first winner of the Purdue Grand Prix. All karts race with a Yamaha KT-100 engine.

The Purdue Auto Club was the original sponsor and governing body of the Purdue Grand Prix. However, upon the disbandment of the Purdue Auto Club, students formed a new organization to manage the race. The final draft of the Grand Prix Foundation's constitution was approved on November 9, 1965 and the Grand Prix Foundation has been the sanctioning body of the race since.

The "old" track, located on the northeast comer of campus near Ross-Ade Stadium, was built in 1968 and was completed in time for the 11th running of the Purdue Grand Prix in 1969. Known as "The Greatest Spectacle in College Racing," the Grand Prix race consists of 33 drivers and teams that participate in the 160-lap or 50 mile race each spring at the conclusion of what was known as "Gala Week." In 1995, Ian Smith set a record as being the first student to win the race three times in a row.

In 2009 a new track opened near the corner of U.S. 231/52 and Cherry Lane. The track is similar in design to the old track with increased width for safety. The new facility cost over $1,000,000 and is one of the premier karting facilities in the country. The track was completed in time for the 52nd annual race and opened on April 25, 2009.


Purdue Grand Prix Foundation. Accessed March 18, 2020.


Lehmann victorious at 50th Grand Prix; first female to win race. Purdue University News Service. Accessed November 11, 2011.

Found in 8 Collections and/or Records:

Purdue Auto Club scrapbook

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSP 178
Scope and Contents The Purdue Auto Club scrapbook documents the activities of the club including call-outs, officers, members, "point standings," rally and slalom events, and event and club memorabilia. The scrapbook contains the club's newsletter, "The Front Line," which also provides details of the club's activities. 

Types of materials included in the scrapbook are: by-laws, constitution, flyers, event memorabilia, newsletters, press releases, and records.
Dates: 1973 - 1979

David Fuhrman's collection of Purdue Grand Prix films

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSA 263
Scope and Contents David Fuhrman’s collection of Grand Prix films (1982-2005; 1 cubic foot) documents some of the Purdue Grand Prix races, after Fuhrman’s 1981 win.  The 1982, 25th anniversary Grand Prix race is documented, along with twelve other races, post 1981.  The 1982 race is on film and the other races are on videotapes.  DVD copies were made when the format and copyright allowed, and those have been cataloged as part of the Archives and Special Collections holdings and shelved with the general book...
Dates: 1982 - 2005

Robbye Frank papers

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 6, Placement: 17
Identifier: MSA 265
Abstract This collection contains materials documenting Roberta S. Frank's involvement in the National College Queen Pageant as well as a program from the 1966 Purdue Grand Prix.
Dates: 1966; Other: Date acquired: 01/01/2013

Gary Kline papers

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 20201008

Purdue Grand Prix Foundation records

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2022-083

Purdue Grand Prix program

 Unprocessed — Box: Communal Accessions 52
Identifier: 2023-028
Dates: April 27 - April 29, 1967

Purdue Grand Prix programs

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 20080221

Purdue Student Section, Society of Women Engineers, addition 02

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 20190509