Indy 500 security revved up for 100th running

Wed May 25, 2016 5:28pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - The hundreds of thousands of spectators planning to attend Sunday's 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 should arrive early and expect to go through added layers of security, officials warned on Wednesday.

With the race sold out for the first time and nearly 400,000 fans expected at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, law enforcement agencies conceded that securing what claims to be the world's biggest single day sporting event will be a massive challenge.

The 2.5-mile oval, which could hold Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, Roman Colosseum and Vatican City, presents unique challenges with spectators allowed to bring in coolers and bags.

"It's important fans understand that security this year has really been ramped up," said Mike Bates, the senior director of safety and security for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Security has always been good out here but with the increase in people we thought it was our due diligence to bump those up.

"You will see a lot of uniformed personnel out there but there will also be a lot of plainclothes officers walking around monitoring."

The race will be one of 11 events this year to receive a Homeland Security SEAR 2 (Special Event Assessment Rating) designation that allows federal assets to be brought in to enhance security plans.

More than 50 local, state and federal agencies will contribute to security efforts that will include a no-fly zone over the speedway during the race.

Run on the U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend, the Indy 500 is a uniquely American event and with this year's race expected to attract a record crowd it presents a potential target for attacks.   Continued...

May 22, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Verizon Indycar series driver James Hinchcliffe waives to the crowd moments after winning the pole during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports