Cherry Tree Elementary student experiences Indy 500 after writing winning essay


Audrey Rinkovsky watches the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. (Submitted photo)

The Indianapolis 500 is more than a tradition in Indianapolis. It’s an experience.

Audrey Rinkovsky, a fourth-grader at Cherry Tree Elementary, was able to participate in the fanfare of this year’s IPL 500 Festival Parade and the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 after writing the winning essay for the 500 Festival Essay Contest.

“Each year there is a different category,” Rinkovsky said. “This year you had to write a 500-word essay about the 102nd running of the Indy 500, but as the pole racer. You had to describe the sounds and how you felt. I wrote that I was a rookie on the pole, and instead of the ladies and gentlemen start your engines being an exciting and happy time for the racer, I kind of did it more nerve-wracking and scared.”

She was alerted of her win by a special visitor at school May 21.

“The CEO of the 500 Festival came to my school and did a presentation, and that’s when I found out,” Rinkovsky said.

She won four tickets to the IPL 500 Festival Parade and the Indianapolis 500.

“The parade was cool,” Rinkovsky said. “It was a very interesting experience. I got to see a lot of how this is the greatest spectacle in racing and how so many communities and different people come together to celebrate this one day.”

The occasion marked the first time she attended the race.

“It was really fun to go to the race,” Rinkovsky said. “I had never experienced a race before. I felt like my essay really matched to what the racers might have been feeling.”

She wants to attend the race again in the future. To read her essay, visit

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