TERRE HAUTE —
Young women apply to become 500 Festival princesses in January and are selected in February after multiple interviews. After that, they spend much of their time promoting the race in various ways and participating in charitable and other community outreach activities.
Recently, Holcomb, a senior at Indiana State University, and Dorsett, a junior at Butler University, helped Habitat for Humanity build a home in Indianapolis. The princesses have also spoken at Vigo County schools and have taken part in several other community activities.
“The great thing is, we get to meet people from all over the state of Indiana,” Holcomb said. “We meet all sorts of people.”
Dorsett, whose older sister Abigail was a princess last year, has years of experience at the speedway. She even worked in the past in the concession stands at the track. “I’ve grown up around the IMS,” she said.
Holcomb, in contrast, is new to the Memorial Day classic. In fact, this will be her first year attending the race, which she and the other princesses will watch from the tall IMS pagoda control tower. “It will be incredible to see and experience it,” she said.
Part of being selected as a Festival princess is to have knowledge of the race, Dorsett said. For example, she was asked in one of her interviews if she could name five female 500 drivers. She could.
Holcomb and Dorsett have also gotten to meet several Indy 500 drivers in recent weeks and months. Last week, they visited patients at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with A.J. Foyt and other race veterans.
While princesses are not required to take part in race and community activities all of the time, they don’t miss too many opportunities. Being a princess is a one-time deal, so they realize they are on a ride that will not come around again.
“They really encourage us to soak it all in,” Dorsett said, adding that she and Holcomb were expected at the IMS at 5:45 a.m. today and will be busy until the green flag waves.
“It’s the best experience of my life so far,” she said.
Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.