On Saturday, May 22, the 2021 Marlyne Sexton 500 Festival Queen Scholar was awarded to Janae Quinn during the Breakfast at the Brickyard ceremony. Prior to 2015, only the woman selected as the 500 Festival Queen Scholar received a scholarship. In 2019, Marlyne Sexton made a generous commitment to the 500 Festival Foundation to establish a fund enduring that scholarships for all 33 500 Festival Princess will be covered in perpetuity. To thank Marlyne for her generosity and support of the Princess Program, the 500 Festival Queen Scholar award was named in her honor.
Janae has been an outstanding representative of the 500 Festival Princess Program, presented by The National Bank of Indianapolis. Let’s meet the queen!
Hometown: Russiaville, IN
High School: Western High School
University: Indiana University Kokomo
Major: Elementary Education
Describe that moment when you heard your name called on Saturday morning:
The moment I heard Katie Kiel, our wonderful emcee, and former 500 Festival Princess, say my name was a memory I don’t think I will ever forget. The emotions of knowing that hard work truly does pay off and having the opportunity to further share the mission of the 500 Festival as the 2021 Marlyne Sexton 500 Festival Queen Scholar were the two primary thoughts going through my mind. The support from my fellow 500 Festival Princesses was so special to share that moment with them on stage.
What inspired you to write “The Persevering Princess?”
My inspiration behind “The Persevering Princess” was to share with all generations to never give up on your dreams. I applied for the 500 Festival Princess Program in 2020. I made it to the final round of interviews but was not selected. It knocked me down a little knowing that my dream wouldn’t come true that year; however, the year 2020 taught me that it’s always important to get back up and chase those dreams. The book gave me the opportunity to share that we may encounter difficulties in every area of our life whether it be on an elementary school playground to chasing a dream to be a 500 Festival Princess to winning the Indianapolis 500.
What has been your favorite moment as a princess/queen so far?
My favorite moment throughout my journey as a 500 Festival Princess/ Queen Scholar has definitely been seeing the positive impact in my community and the state of Indiana. In many of my outreaches, I worked to share the exciting careers and opportunities available to young women in motorsports, specifically STEM-related careers. On May 25th, I decided to lead by example by jumping in an actual IndyCar two-seater to show young girls that you can be a princess and be involved in STEM-related opportunities.
What are your responsibilities on Race Day?
Race weekend is looking like one of the most memorable weekends of my life. We will kick off the weekend with The American Legion 500 Festival Memorial Service to honor our fallen Hoosier heroes. On Saturday, the 500 Festival Princesses and I will be taking part in the 500 Spectacle of Homes where we will bring the parade to the spectators’ homes. In the evening, I will also have the opportunity to meet Marlyne Sexton, the Indianapolis philanthropist who made a generous commitment to empowering the princesses through scholarship opportunities. Then, we will celebrate all of our countless hours of community service by celebrating with the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. While at the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500, the 500 Festival Princesses and I will greet fans as well as take part in the pre-race and victory celebration. As a lifelong motorsports fan, I am beyond excited to see who will make history as an official Indy 500 Champion!