Potential storms threaten thousands at Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As hundreds of thousands of spectators prepare to flood the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Sunday, some are worried about how the possibility for severe weather may impact race day.

“Obviously if it’s raining, we are not going to run the Indianapolis 500. And then we’ll have to decide what the next steps are,” IMS President Doug Boles said.

IMS officials don’t have a severe weather plan in place yet, mostly because they don’t want to jump ahead too soon. Their number one priority is to keep everyone safe.

“We try to monitor it and what I think the best thing for us is Saturday evening we will sit down as a team to kind of really get a sense of where we are going to be. And meet again Sunday morning,” Boles said.

The biggest thing they’re monitoring is the potentially deadly flashes across the sky as opposed to rain.

“We would deal with lightning much differently than a rain shower because that is something we want people to be aware of,” Boles said.

In 2004, spectators took cover underneath the grandstands after an F-2 tornado touched down 10 miles from IMS. Weather delayed the race for hours, forcing officials to end early.

A.J. Ferrari from Arizona is hoping for a different outcome this time around.

“We handle it every year the same way. Which is wait, enjoy it, watch all the festivities, watch the people, and wait for those racers to start those engines,” Ferrari says.

However, Rick Bortz who traveled Pennsylvania is already planning for an extended stay in the Circle City.

“We have time built into our schedule that if the race was delayed a day or two, we could stay and watch it. So we’re looking forward to a good and safe race on Sunday,” Bortz said.

Boles is assuring everyone they will do their best not to speculate and to make the best decision for more than 300,000 people on race day.

“It’s Indiana weather, you don’t know. And I can’t think of a time historically that we haven’t started on time, it was dry. Even if it’s going to rain 10 minutes later, I can’t imagine that we would postpone the start because we think it might rain,” Boles said.

The National Weather Service will be present on race day to monitor the storms closely.

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