IBJNews

Indy 500 fans will find track security tighter this year

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Fans coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this weekend's Indy 500 will notice some changes in the traditional routine in response to last month's bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Getting into the speedway will be harder as officials tighten up access to the track, closing traffic on one popular route. More uniformed police officers also will be present.

But the biggest impact on fans could be closer monitoring of the coolers they bring in.

Coolers packed with beer are a time-honored tradition at the speedway. The track has long had limits on the size of coolers fans could bring in, but those were widely ignored as security officials herding tens of thousands of fans through the gates focused more on banning glass bottles.

Faye Fields, 29, who lives in suburban Noblesville, said track workers have let people in with coolers that took two people to carry or had to be pulled on wheels.

"If one of the gates turned you away, all you had to do was go down to the next one," she said.

Speedway spokesman Doug Boles acknowledged that enforcement of the cooler limit has been lax, but that won't be the case this year.

"Last year, we ended up saying if you can carry it with one hand you could bring it in," he said. But after two brothers set off homemade bombs at the April 15 Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 250, speedway officials "made the determination we're really going to enforce our cooler limits this year."

All coolers brought to the track will be opened and inspected, Boles said. Workers will check the size of the coolers and anyone whose cooler is too big will have to lug it back to their car.

There's a lot of pressure on Indianapolis to pull off a safe event because the race is one of the first big sporting events to follow the Boston attack, said Lou Marciani, director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, based at the University of Southern Mississippi.

"It all goes back to one thing: What is the risk? The Super Bowl has a high risk. The Indy 500 is an international icon facility, an icon race, a lot of pressure," he said.

The Kentucky Derby earlier this month also took new security steps, banning cameras with interchangeable lenses and subjecting all attendees to magnetic wand scans before they entered Churchill Downs. Other events are expected to step up security as well. Marciani said planners are considering using metal detectors on everyone who attends next year's Super Bowl in New York and New Jersey.

Fields, who works a job in security, said completely securing an event such as the 500, which draws more than 250,000 people, is next to impossible.

"I think with so many people coming through, you can't stop it all unless you stop and look at every person," she said.

The 500 also has changed its parking policies and traffic patterns. Spectators who want to park in a formerly free lot in the Turn 3 infield will have to pay $25 and have security credentials to prove their identity.

"I think a lot of people will be surprised," said Bob Gibbens, 52, an air traffic controller from Houston who has attended the race for 44 years.

Boles said the parking passes should ease traffic backups and let police know who is inside the track with a vehicle. Police also will restrict access on a major route into the track and bar fans parked overnight in a lot across from the main gate from pouring through a tunnel into the track at dawn.

Marciani said he doesn't think fans will be troubled by any extra hassle this year.

"The fans have changed a great deal in the last five years," he said. "They know about Boston. The fans do. They're going to be patient."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

ADVERTISEMENT