The results weren't exactly what Hollywood would have ordered. No underdog team charged from last place to win by a nose. No one man heroically carried his team to the finish line.
Instead, the favorite team, Delta Chi fraternity, Saturday afternoon won the 30th annual Little 500 bicycle race at Indiana University here. The team completed the 50-mile-race in a record 2 hours, 9 minutes and 28 seconds. It was the sixth victory in eight years for the Delta Chi team.
This year's race had no Dave Stohler leading a team of "cutters" to victory, but the race did remain faithful to the traditions portrayed in the movie "Breaking Away," which was filmed in Bloomington using residents and students as extras.
The film generated national interest in the event, which drew a record, standing-room-only crowd this year and attracted network camera crews and individual TV stations as far away as Mobile, Ala.
The race began at 1:30 p.m. with the call "Gentlemen, would you please mount your bicycles" and with the release of hundreds of multicolored baloons into the clear sky above the outdoor stadium.
Dressed in bright shirts, shorts and helmets, the riders surged around the track, their bodies leaning almost parallel to the ground when they reached the turns. After completing portions of the 200-lap race, riders flopped onto their backs and rocked back and forth massaging their legs.
Other riders mounted practice bicycles and methodically pedaled, their eyes never leaving the track where the race continued.
When the last Delta Chi rider corossed the finish line, fans in the section immediately produced bottles of champagne and began spraying the bubbling contents on the team. "Look at these riders," said one fan, shaking his head with delight. "They're going to get all messed up. It's great."
Although "Breaking Away" hasn't changed the basic format of the Little 500, the atmosphere at this year's festivities was different from previous years.
"There's more energy this year -- real electricity in the air," said spectator Peg Duggan, a junior at IU.
Attendance for the race was a record 23,350, and more than 1,000 persons were turned away from Tenth Street Stadium, which seats 21,742.
The Indiana University Foundation started Little 500 in 1951 as an annual fund-raiser and promotional event, said Bill Armstrong, who has been president of the foundation for 28 years.
"People thought we were crazy to have a bicycle race on the college campus," Armstrong said.
But 30 years later, the Little 500 is billed as the "World's Greatest College Weekend." "College" should be emphasized because the cutters' dream of competing in the race will never come true.
"We couldn't open it up" to non-university riders, Armstrong said.
"This is a university event. We're not doing this for the good of anyone else."
Competition between IU students and Bloomington natives was the basis of the plot for "Breaking Away." But while it's difficult to find anyone here who didn't like the movie, most persons agree that this conflict is not totally realistic.
"We hardly ever called them cutters (before the movie). Now we do, but not that much," said Steve Hoeferle, a Delta Chi rider and "Breaking Away" extra.
Harold "Dugan" Elgar, a 69-year-old limestone carver born and raised in Bloomington, said he was never called a cutter until he played a bit part in "Breaking Away." But, he added, thre is some historical basis to the conflict presented in the Academy-Award winning screenplay written by Steve Tesich, an IU graduate and former Little 500 rider.
"There used to be some confrontations,especially when town boys dated the college girls," Elgar said.
Another source of conflict was an IU tradition in the 1930s, he said. "Freshmen used to have to wear green beanies. If upperclassmen caught freshmen without beanies, they cut the freshman's hair. One day they ran out of freshmen, so they clipped a few town boys," he said.
If the conflict between cutters and students no longer exists, it may have been replaced by one between students living in fraternities (Greeks) and students living in university dormitories. And that rivalry carries over to the Little 500, which hasn't been won by a dorm team since 1953.
Ted Chase, a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and an extra in "Breaking Away," said the movie may have added to the Greek-dorm conflicts by reinforcing "a sterotyped view of frats."
In the movie, Chase played one of the fraternity toughs who takes part in the fight at the Indiana Memorial Union and in the bike race. "I've had girls I don't know come up to me and say they don't think I'ms such a good-looking guy," Chase said.
But he added that these indicents are the only drawbacks to an experience that "opened so many things for me."
Chase, who will receive his degree next month from IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, had never acted before "Breaking Away." But he attended an acting school last summer in New York City and traveled to Houston, where he worked as a "prominent extra" in "Urban Cowboy," starring John Travolta.
"I'm planning to move to Los Angeles this May" to pursue an acting career, Chase said. "I'm in no hurry to apply my degree. I figure the worst that can happen is I'll decide acting's not for me."
On a larger scale, "Breaking Away" has affected the lives of persons both in the city and on campus. Alumni donations to the IU foundation, which sponsors Little 500, increased 30 percent last year, Armstrong said.
An anonymous gift totaling about $1 million will help the Foundation pay for the construction of a new $1.7 million stadium to house the race, he said. The old stadium, built in 1925, has been declared structurally unsound. The foundation hopes to complete the new stadium before next year's race, Armstrong said.
But Little 500 riders insisted that "Breaking Away" hasn't changed their attitude toward the race. "We ride because it's such a neat thing to win," Hoeferle said. "We put in 150 percent all year round, and it all culminates in one afternoon."