Added security measures during Indianapolis 500 include car searches, helicopters

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SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- With the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 officially sold out, officials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are expecting a crowd much larger than in the last few years.

An estimated 400,000 race fans are expected to make the Indianapolis Motor Speedway more populous than the cities of Fort Wayne and South Bend combined.

IMS officials have already advised race fans to arrive early and add two hours to their race morning routine. All reserve and general admission tickets have been sold, IMS announced earlier Wednesday.

Several officials, including IMS president Doug Boles, IMS senior director of safety and security Mike Bates and U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, Paul Dvorak, discussed race day preparations and added security for the historic 100th running.

Bates said the public safety presence, including Police, Fire and EMS, will be 20-percent larger than in previous years.

Several federal agencies, including FBI, ATF, Border Patrol and U.S. Customs will be on hand to assist local agencies.

“We are simply here to assist in their security plan, and it is an excellent plan.  And we’ll give them whatever assets they feel need and any expertise they feel they may ask,” Dvorak said.

Dvorak said the Department of Homeland Security has designated the 100th Indianapolis 500 a SEAR 2 (Special Event Assessment Rating) event.  The size of the crowd and the historic nature of the race presents the potential for a terrorism threat.  But there are no credible threats to Sunday's race, Dvorak said.

Boles continued to urge race fans to plan ahead, come out early, and be patient on race day.

Bates said race fans should be prepared to be searched at random before, during and after the race.  ESG Security has been hired for the first time to help yellow shirts check bags and coolers at the 24 gates into the Speedway.  They will also conduct searches at pre-check locations, then direct those fans to express lanes into the gates.

Boles recommended skipping gates with long lines and finding gates that have shorter lines.  Even if that gate is farther from your seat, it could get you there more quickly, he said.

As a race fan, here’s what you need to know:

  • Leave for the track two hours earlier than normal.
  • Gates 1, 6, and 9 are the busiest.
  • Taxis and Ubers will drop you off just south of Gate 1.
  • All bags and coolers will be checked at the gates.
  • Coolers larger than 14 inches x 14 inches x 18 inches are not allowed.
  • Authorities will scan license plates.
  • Your car may be checked.
  • There will be two helicopters courtesy of Customs and Border Patrols that will monitor the parade, the Coke Lot, and the race.
  • There will be a flight restriction that will prohibit aircraft from flying over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway one hour before the race and one hour after the race.