SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 28, 2016) – When fans hit the tracks for the 100th running of the Indy 500 Sunday morning, IMS officials hope they’ll be able to improve upon the few issues they found on Carb Day.
Heat-related illnesses, security lines moving slower than they’d like and counterfeit tickets are the biggest issues they’re trying to resolve for race day.
With a crowd that equals the population of South Bend and Fort Wayne combined squeezing into the speedway, sick fans are a guarantee.
IMS Medical Director Geoffrey Billows says with that many people at the track all day long, his time will see the type of things you would see at an urgent care in a city that size.
“We see heart attacks and strokes and seizures and people with breathing problems and asthma,” says Billows.
With the warm, humid weather expected for race day, Billows anticipates seeing a lot more people suffering from dehydration and heat strokes.
On Carb Day, 260 people were treated for heat-related illnesses. On a typical race day in recent years, that number climbs to 500-600. With this year’s sellout crowd, the number will likely be higher.
“We’ll probably work a little bit harder,” says Billows. “We have staffed up some in terms of the number of medics and nurses and physicians.”
The track’s medical staff has one infield care center, 15 first aid stations around the property, five track surface ambulances for the drivers, 17 ambulances for spectators, eight golf cart ambulances and seven mobile medical teams.
IMS President Doug Boles says security staffing is also bigger than ever.
For the first time, a private security firm will check each of your bags. Boles says he’s hoping tomorrow, fans will follow the rules so lines can run more smoothly.
On Carb Day, coolers were the biggest issue at the gates.
“If they’re beyond 14x14x18, they have to take to take them back to their cars,” says Boles. “So that was a bit of a difficulty for some of our fans as they came for us.”
Selfie sticks and glass bottles also slowed lines down. Both are banned.
While staff can help fans resolve heat and security-related issues, fighting counterfeit tickets is out of their control.
“We’ve seen tens of thousands of dollars worth of tickets that have been counterfeited that we’ve confiscated, so it’s a significant problem,” says Boles.
Boles is telling fans to beware many of the last-minute tickets up for sale on the secondary market. If it turns out to be a fake, there’s nothing they can do.
“If you buy tickets and they end up to be counterfeit, we can’t help you,” says Boles. “We can’t get you in the venue because we have no other seats you can buy, so you’re going to be out of that money.”
Boles suggests those who are buying secondary market tickets avoid the paper tickets because they’re more likely to be legitimate.
The plastic tickets are more difficult to counterfeit, but IMS still can’t guarantee those if they weren’t bought from them.
Boles’ main message Saturday night was repeating his mantra of “get here early”.
He says that’s the only way to ensure you have time to resolve any issues and get inside the track before the race starts.