INDIANAPOLIS – As thousands of race fans make plans to come out to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 this weekend, track officials are getting ready for the possibility of severe weather at the outdoor venue.
IMS President Doug Boles met with his staff, Friday, to go over safety plans. He’s been talking about weather all week with them.
“We’re just gonna watch it really carefully,” he said.
A tornado touched down on the day of the Indianapolis 500 in 2004 within 10 miles of the IMS. The F2 tornado damaged a nursing home, an elementary school and numerous homes on the southeast side of Indianapolis.
The weather delayed the race for hours that year and forced track officials to shorten the 500 as the storm system came dangerously close.
Fans were ordered to shelter in place under the grandstands and wait for the storm to clear.
If IMS officials see that severe weather is moving in, it will alert fans through PA’s, putting a radar on the video boards, and social media.
Once Boles and his staff have a better idea of what’s coming, the IMS will start sending out direct messages.
“If it’s just wind, it may be something where we’re saying ‘Let’s seek shelter underneath the grandstands.’ If it’s lightning or a tornado or thunderstorm and how fast it’s going and where it’s coming from... you can’t make one solid decision until you know exactly what the storm is, where it’s gonna hit, and how quickly it’s gonna get here and how severe it’s gonna be.”
With thousands expected at the outdoor venue, time is always crucial. In the case that the track needs to evacuate, it will have to give fans plenty of notice.
“I think on the numbers that we’re talking about here, probably in the 30 to 40 minute range just to get everybody out of their seats and move forward.”