Indy 500 officials playing it safe with race-day security
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis 500 fans won’t face any enhanced security measures to get into the track for Sunday’s race.
They might notice more armed law-enforcement officials once they make it through the gates at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Two days after 22 people were killed at a concert in Manchester, England, speedway President Doug Boles outlined the track’s security plan and urged fans to arrive early and stay patient for the world’s largest single-day sporting event as they go through the now familiar security checkpoints.
”They will continue to check coolers and they may notice an increase in armed law enforcement on the grounds,” Boles said Wednesday. ”We’re pretty comfortable with the plan we have in place.”
In recent years, speedway officials have increased security around the track.
They started checking coolers, bags and backpacks more vigorously, installed license-plate readers and added random searches by dogs for cars parking on the infield. They also require anyone parking in the third turn to purchase an additional pass. All those measures will be in place again this year, which also saw the speedway hire a former Indianapolis police officer to run the security department.
Boles said the track was awaiting word on whether Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, would be attending the race, as he has previously.
”Our biggest goal and I’m sure the vice president’s goal if he does come is to impact our customers in the least possible way,” Boles said. ”I think he would do it in the least impactful way possible.”
The track is scheduled to hold two major concerts in the fourth turn of the 2.5-mile oval this week before the race. Ticket-holders can take coolers to the Steve Miller Band concert on Friday after the track closes but will not be permitted to bring coolers to Saturday’s show, headlined by country music star Keith Urban.
”There’s probably not an area at the speedway that is more policed than the concert areas,” Boles said. ”We believe we’ll be prepared with the number of people we have on hand and there is very limited traffic behind the stage.”
Early forecasts were calling for the possibility of Sunday morning thunderstorms, which could create a danger for fans sitting on metal bleachers or spread around the infield without cover. Boles said fans should create their own emergency plans to stay safe.
Boles estimated Sunday’s crowd will be close to a sellout. Last year, an estimated 350,000 people attended the 100th running of the race. The speedway does not announce actual attendance figures.
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