Before the reporters stormed in, before the champions walked onto the stage in front of all their fans, before they were mobbed by house brothers and friends, the four Sigma Phi Epsilon riders shared a moment all to themselves after winning the 2015 Little 500.
“God,” one rider said, “we fucking won! We fucking won!”
There were hugs to be had, there were TV interviews to be conducted, there were trophies to be hoisted, victory laps to be run. But never was there a more perfect two sentences to capture the emotion and thrill of the 2015 men’s race.
Sig Ep held off six teams in a sprint finish, beating Black Key Bulls by the absolute smallest of margins, crossing the line .024 seconds before BKB according to the RaceMonitor app that times the race.
— IU StudentFoundation (@IUSF) April 26, 2015
“I saw (BKB’s Spencer) Brauchla start to come around, but I was not confident enough to raise my hands,” Sig Ep’s Nick Torrance said. “I was fairly confident that I had him at the line. Apparently I did.”
Beta Theta Pi finished third (.344 seconds back), Sigma Alpha Epsilon fourth (.355), Forest fifth (.356) and Delta Tau Delta sixth (.380). Cutters, 3PH, Phi Kappa Sigma and Phi Delta Theta made up the rest of the top 10, respectively.
Torrance was behind Beta’s Chris Craig to start the final lap. Coming out of Turn 2, Torrance made his move, jumping around Craig on the outside and getting to the inside line.
“I was sitting second and Chris Craig was on the inside,” Torrance said. “I kind of just let him have it a little bit coming around here (Turn 2). I popped out of this turn, passed him, got the inside line and just rode it to the end. I thought I had it coming out of the stretch.”
But he almost didn’t.
Brauchla came flying from the back on the front straight to finish just a hair behind Torrance.
Brauchla knew he just missed it. He knew Torrance had won.
“Looking back on it, there really wasn’t anything I would change,” Brauchla said. “I mean, it was definitely hard coming back that far and then losing like that. If there was any way to lose, for it to be that close and knowing there was nothing else that could be done, I can hang my head up.”
Craig, who finished second in ITTs and won MNO, said he just didn’t have enough left for the final sprint. He said he couldn’t feel his legs going into Turn 3. He started his final set with nine laps to go.
“I left it all out there,” Craig said. “I really have zero regrets. I’m really happy for Sig Ep. They did a great job. Yeah, I left it all out there. It was exactly what my plan was was to hold the final lap the whole way through. Just based on having to catch up after our crash, having to bridge Delts, the final sprint, it was almost here.”
It was a victory that the members of Sig Ep didn’t even expect, getting caught up in a crash around lap 39.
“I thought we were done,” Torrance said of the crash. “I really thought we were done. Thankfully it happened right in front of us so we were able to get on really quick, but we had to do a lot of work to catch back up.”
The crash caught just Sig Ep and Lambda Chi Alpha. But it sent Sig Ep all the way back to 19th. They’d have to work to get back to the front.
“I was on the inside. Somoene knocked into me, went down,” Sig Ep’s Chris Truli said. “They really had to work their butts off to catch the pack.”
It was a race that featured just three yellow flags, and only one big wreck.
Perhaps the biggest race move of the day came from Delta Tau Delta, who, around lap 178, started a series of sprints that saw them take a lead of about 14 seconds, approximately half a lap, on the rest of the lead pack.
“With like 20 to go, it started to get real hectic,” Brauchla said. “Delts was off the front with a very sizeable gap. It got up to like half a lap at some point. It was kind of hard to communicate with the guys on the bike and us in the pit, like hard to communicate with the guys in the pit how far ahead Delts were and where they were exactly so I mean since it’s half a lap, you couldn’t really see them like going around.
“You’re just kind of told someone’s out in front, you don’t really know where they are and it’s hard to chase that.”
With around five laps to go, the lead pack was able to complete the bridge back to Delts, sending the ending into the thrilling sprint.
“Well in all honesty, it was basically me who bridged it and it hurt a lot,” Craig said, “but I got up there. I bridged them.”
With five to go, Craig had Beta in second, trailing Delts by just 1.082 seconds. With three to go, Torrance and Sig Ep had moved ahead of Delts, taking a slim .236 second lead. Beta sat in third, Cutters fourth and BKB fifth.
Turi said the team had complete confidence in Torrance when he hopped on the bike with about 15 to go.
“We just knew that he would be in the right position when it came down to the sprint,” Turi said of his teammate. “He took the inside line right when he needed to and they weren’t able to come around him.”
It definitely wasn’t the way Torrance drew it up, with is team being involved in an early crash, but after four years, he was a champion, delivering Sig Ep their third Little 500 victory.
“Our strategy completely blew up,” he said. “We wrecked pretty early and it’s a crazy race. All strategies go to shit. Our team was pretty tired. I wasn’t planning on doing that much at the end, but I got it so apparently it worked.”