Plan ahead, leave early: What you need to know for race day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Be patient. Get there early. Make sure to stay hydrated.

Those are the three points officials from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway emphasized during a news conference Thursday. You can plan your trip to IMS with this website.

By far the biggest change for 2018’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 is that any vehicles entering the speedway on race day will be subject to searches.

Mike Bates, senior director of safety and security for Hulman Motorsports, said the additional layer of security was prompted by “world events” that have included cars intentionally striking pedestrians or running through barricades.

Bates said there would be additional concrete barriers for protection along with the vehicle searches to bolster race day security.

“We just want to make sure that vehicles parked inside our facility are safe,” Bates said.

That extra layer of security means getting an early start and being patient are especially important for this year’s race.

“We want [fans] to get in quickly and to be safe,” said Doug Boles, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Boles expects another large crowd this year, saying ticket sales are strong and continuing the momentum from the 100th Running of the Indy 500 in 2016.

Boles said gates would open at 6 a.m. The gift shop will be open at that time, and he said fans can anticipate the march of the Borg-Warner Trophy later in the morning as well as red carpet events at 9:30 a.m.

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Coolers larger than 14x14x18 are prohibited, Boles said, emphasizing that coolers would be checked at the gates. No glass bottles are allowed if you’re going to the race.

Other prohibited items include selfie sticks and wagons. Strollers are allowed, Boles reminded fans.

One of the biggest challenges, as always, will be parking. Boles said parking was essentially sold out, and while you may find parking passes available for purchase online, IMS can’t vouch for their authenticity.

Race fans will battle heat and humidity, with the forecast calling for a high in the upper 80s. Hydration should start the day before the race, according to Dr. Geoffrey Billows, director of medical services at IMS. He told fans to bring plenty of water and drink it throughout the race. He also recommended something with electrolytes, like Gatorade.

First aid stations around the track will have air conditioning, as will the gift shop. Fans will find five cooling buses around the facility and approximately 75 misting stations in various locations.

Billows hopes the medical center doesn’t experience an influx of people due to the hot conditions.

“I think we have prepared for the surge that we might get. I think people pay attention to our suggestions,” Billows said. “Hopefully, it won’t be a huge surge of people.”

Boles urged fans not to rely on GPS devices to find their way to the track. Those can be inaccurate and put you on the wrong path, he said.

He said fans should know where they’re going and where they need to park. Plan ahead—and, of course, get there early.

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