Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bristol woman serves as Indy 500 princess

Audrey Putnam, a Purdue University student from Bristol, will be serving in the Princess Court for this year's Indianapolis 500.
Posted on May 27, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

Audrey Putnam came out of a pack of 274 applicants to be an ambassador at the famous race.

Tim Vandenack

Audrey Putnam is no stranger to the Indianapolis 500.

She’s attended the auto race a couple of times and she’s missed only one of the past 20 Festival 500 parades, part of the Indianapolis festivities that lead up to the big event, set for today, May 27.

Now, though, the Bristol woman, 21, will see the activities from another perspective — she was first runner-up to the 500 Festival queen and will serve as one of two reps in the 2012 Princess Court.

“I was actually pretty honored and shocked,” said the Purdue University junior, who’s majoring in management.

Whatever the case, being tabbed a princess doesn’t end things. She’s been busy with Festival 500 promotion all week and she’ll keep it up today, race day. Being a princess, she’ll take a lap around the track before the race and she’ll also mix with some long-time race supporters.

“My day has been packed every single day,” she said by phone from Indianapolis on Friday.

Her efforts to get on the Princess Court stretch back to February, when Putnam went through the first round of interviewing before a panel of judges as part of the 500 Festival Princess Program. The pack of 274 applicants was then whittled to 66 and, later that month, it was pared again to 33.

All along, Putnam engaged in Indianapolis 500 outreach, meeting with school kids, seniors and others. “We try to just make sure we connect with the community,” she said.

That sort of effort, according to Festival 500 spokesman Megan Bulla, is the key factor in picking the queen, the two princess court members and the 30 other princesses, who serve as volunteer Indianapolis 500 ambassadors.

“It’s more than a beauty pageant. They do a lot of outreach,” said Bulla.

The festival queen is Taylor Adams of Indianapolis and the other member of the princess court is Erika Tishner of Elwood. The 500 Festival is a nonprofit group that organizes the many activities surrounding Indianapolis 500 weekend.

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