On April 27, 1963, the first "Little 500" race, and the first "Little 500 Weekend" were held on campus. The SJC Little 500 started as an imitation of similar races run at other colleges. The cars were people powered. Each car had two alternating drivers and ten pushers. The track was around Science Hall and down the sidewalk that runs through the grove toward Raleigh Hall. The race lasted four hours, and was a forerunner of the race with engine-powered cars of today's Little 500.
In 1971 the Little 500 became motorized for the first time, replacing the hand pushed carts. The track was moved to a rectangle that formed around the Grotto. The start/finish line is located on the Gallagher and Halas side. The other side being the road that runs past the carpenter shop and the Health Center. Ed Carter, whose pit crew was able to change an engine during the race in 90 secs, took the first prize of $500. The race was televised over channel 8 through the Rensselaer cable system by arrangement with the campus radio station. Dan Bryan, chairman of the race, estimated, counting pit crews and a variety of officers and promoters and organizers, that the race directly involved about 300 students. There were also outside sponsors and many visitors to campus. The Little 500 Weekend has remained the biggest annual student event on campus.