Homeland Security establishes evacuation plan for IMS emergency

Homeland Security used analytics to determine where people would leave the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the case of an emergency evacuation.
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The Brickyard 400 will bring NASCAR fans to Indianapolis this weekend.  

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hoping to give race fans a good show on and off the track, but they are working just as hard to keep those fans safe.

Weather is always a big issue at the Indianapolis 500 or the Brickyard 400, both to those racing and those watching. This year, all eyes will be not only on the track, but the skies, because of impending weather, but folks as the Speedway do have a plan.

"If we really believe it's an issue, we will stop the on-track activity, even if it's not raining, in order to make sure fans know this is serious and they need to seek shelter," Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said Friday.

Last May, the Speedway had a test run when a torrential rain and dangerous winds forced organizers to close down Community Day. The question becomes, 'Where do people go?" This animation gives us an idea, however, that depends on whether the threat is high winds, lightning or tornadoes.

"We know it's 100 minutes, but that is just evacuating people to their cars. That is not traffic time, that is not getting everyone leaving in their cars," said Indianapolis Homeland Security Chief Gary Coons.

Technology will allow the Speedway to watch weather as it develops and make that call before the threatening system even enters the state.

"If it's tornado, we will have to make decisions when the storm is in Terre Haute. So it's about at the state line, Illinois and here. The end result may be a tornado doesn't come here, but if there is tornado activity out there, we have to make a decision at that point."

Homeland Security ran analytics to predict where people would go if asked to take cover or evacuate Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"It took a lot to put into it, but we were able to film people movement and how they would evacuate," said Coons.

The analytics allowed the agency to construct a firm emergency plan in case the need arises.

"There does come a point that we may dictate to fans what we want to do," Boles stated.

So when people walk in to watch the race this weekend at the Speedway, they can take some comfort in knowing they are not the only ones watching the skies to ensure their safety. 

See a track map here.