(INDIANAPOLIS, IN.) – Thursday is media day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway-and it is raining- but that is not stopping the campers from starting to fill up the famous “Coke Lot” with fans who are getting set up for Race Day Weekend, for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500.
As groups were getting their tents set up and and the BBQs ready, the staff at the speedway was making perpetrations for a massive crowd of people- who come from all over the world to experience a weekend of events, and then the greatest spectacle in racing.
They come from all over- and meet again as family. It is an Indy tradition to have a giant reunion at the IMS every year at the end of May.
President of the Speedway, Doug Boles gave media an enthusiastic update, Thursday morning, about details from his point of view.
“I am excited that this year we will be showing videos all morning, as we ask people to be patient coming into the gates. We have plans for a great family event. People will see historic cars on the track – on race day morning. It will be fun. We will have all of our pre-race activities too,” he said.
“This is my 46th Indy 500 and I am excited about the drivers- who have never seen a full house here- having that experience. I don’t think we will completely sell out this year, we may have a few remaining tickets in the North West Vista, but I expect this race will look a lot like the races we are used to seeing,” Boles told the media on Thursday morning.
“We are getting ready for the second largest city to be inside this Speedway very soon,” he said. telling media that of the 233,000 seats in the speedway the ticket sales showed 225,000 tickets were sold- with many of the most popular stands completely sold out.
Excitement was extra this year, after three years of being under some level of restrictions. This year restrictions for the Speedway were most lifted, except for some street parking restricting by the city of Speedway- which surrounds the track.
“Parking is sold out, so we are encouraging people to make their plans now,” Boles told media.
When asked about any safety concerns for the fans- Boles had a lot to say.
“We are always worried about the safety of our family. Race fans, the workers and the drivers are all our family. We are a family here, and I am always concerned,” he said.
After a shoot shooting earlier in the week, the level of security at the world’s largest sporting event was a natural question.
“We will have 11,000 officers here. Some will be under cover, some uniformed and some plain clothes and we want people to know they are here to protect the anticipated hundreds of thousands of fans and people here. We will have a third party who are special trained groups evaluating vehicles and bags, and we will have a SWAT presence that will be highly visible,” Boles said.
“I worry a lot about weather but we have concerns about safety as well. I feel confident, too, in our resources and because we are such a large venue we have access to federal sources which we will use. The crowds are back this year and we will do everything we can to keep them protected,” he said.