Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials on Thursday warned of heat dangers and cautioned attendees of new rules in Sunday’s 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
IMS President Doug Boles joined Mike Bates, Hulman Motorsports senior director of safety, and Dr. Geoffrey Billows, the IMS medical services director, to describe changes to security, prohibited items and parking and give health advisements.
Boles announced wagons would be prohibited from IMS on race day, a change from previous years.
“Strollers are OK to bring in, but we don’t want people to bring in wagons,” he said, citing dense crowds behind the stands. “On practice days oftentimes people have a wagon, pull their kids around in a wagon. We don’t allow wagons on race days.”
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Selfie sticks, glass bottles, drones, professional cameras and nonservice animals have joined the banned list in 2018.
Boles said crews would also be checking cooler sizes as well, and enforcing the maximum size of 18-by-14-by-14-inches.
Bates said recent world events have spurred a more careful look at IMS security and safety.
“Everybody should understand that their vehicle is subject to be searched,” he said. “And what I mean by search is typically have a dog to check the vehicle for any type of explosives whatever the case may be, at multiple gates.”
Bates said the strong cooperation between Indianapolis and central Indiana law enforcement agencies has enabled even more trained police dogs to help patrol the speedway.
Vehicle checks also will lengthen lines at in-field parking gates, according to Boles, and he recommended people park outside of IMA.
“Some of the traditions of the speedway for people is not to park in the speedway’s lot but to park in the neighbors’ lot and get to know those neighbors and come back every year,” Boles said. “So, there is parking on the west side, but it is helpful to know where to go.”
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Boles also said IMS is sold out of parking passes and cautioned against buying them from sources online as IMS can’t guarantee the authenticity of the pass.
The doctor provided advice for race fans given the chance of record high temperatures. Storm Track 8 on Thursday was forecasting a high of 89 on Sunday; the record for race day is 92 in 1937. In 2012, the race day temperature topped out at 91.
“Don’t wait until the day of the event to hydrate,” the doctor said. “Start hydrating a day or so before.”
Billows said all first-aid stations, gift shops and the speedway museum will have air conditioning, along with five cooling buses and about 75 misting stations around the track. He advised visitors wear loose, light-colored clothing and stay aware of any heat exhaustion symptoms that might develop, including lightheadedness, nausea, loss of vision and difficulty breathing.
“Seems that we’ve transitioned straight from winter right into summer,” he said, “so not much of a spring. So I worry people haven’t acclimated yet to the warm weather.”