Police prepare for weekend of rowdy race fans

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The big race is just three days away, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is gearing up to play host to more than 300,000 fans for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500.  

With that amount of people, can come plenty of crime.

Dozens of police agencies will be patrolling IMS as the Indy 500 is the busiest weekend for Indiana State Police.

They prepare months in advance and troopers come in from across the state just to handle the amount of people that will be at the track. 

State police say they will be looking for everything from underage drinking to traffic violations. 

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Spirits were high inside IMS’ Glamptown Thursday night as racing fans kicked off what will be a fun weekend at the track.

But as Seth Berger and his friends have witnessed in years past, it can get rowdy.

“There’s the people that are going to go full go, they are going to take it to the limits and sometimes you go a little too far,” said Berger.

People in Glamptown say they’ve seen some crazy things at the greatest spectacle in racing. 

“There was a time that they brought a really dry Christmas tree and somebody caught it on fire near their U-Haul and then their U-Haul caught on fire. We had a drunk person try to sneak into our tent one night that we didn’t know at all,” said Berger.

“Back in the early 70’s kind of with the streakers going on…there was always some people that just got out of hand,” said Stuart Mazura, a lifelong fan of the Indy 500, who is visiting IMS from Jamestown, Kentucky.

State Police will have their eyes peeled for crime, even putting undercover officers on patrol, for people they say can get out of control.

“They don’t realize there are race cars on the track. They are there just to party and have a good time. That’s OK it’s a fun atmosphere for that, but when that partying gets out of hand and goes too far, that’s when guys like me have to intervene,” explained Sgt. John Perrine with Indiana State Police.

It was an uneventful Indianapolis 500 for state police in 2018. 

Troopers did not arrest anyone inside the track on race day. Speedway police say they arrested just four people for public intoxication. 

But in 2017, it was a different story.

State Excise Police cited nearly 200 people on race weekend. 150 of those citations were for illegal possession or consumption of alcohol, 50 were drug-related, and a handful were for fake IDs or giving alcohol to minors.

“We just want people to come and have a good time. Don’t leave it as an option to leave the track in handcuffs. Do the right thing, do the smart thing and take care of your friends when you’re there,” said Sgt. Perrine.

A lot of the people News 8 talked to Thursday said they really have seen crime calm down and added things weren’t as crazy as they were even just a few years ago.

Another big thing police will be looking out for is fighting. They say the hot weather often brings out the worst in people and can stir up problems out on the track.

Police encourage if you see anything suspicious, to say something, and call police.