New safety standards in place for Indianapolis Motor Speedway stages


The state of Indiana is enforcing new safety standards put in place after the State Fair tragedy. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway had to remove one of the five stages set up to entertain fans after state building inspectors had some concerns about the way it was built.

Five separate stages going up around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway must meet the new safety regulations.

This time Friday, the stages at IMS will be surrounded by thousands of Carb Day fans. All of the must meet new safety regulations intended to keep fans, performers and workers safe.

In additional to a physical inspection, there are inspections of the building plans, engineering, and technical information documenting structural integrity of the stage and rigging, including how much weight and weather it will with stand.

Thursday, just four days before the race, inspectors rejected another stage and told the Speedway it couldn't be used.

"They were unable to provide the necessary engineering wind and weight load. The Speedway was very cooperative. We told them it was non-compliant. They understood, brought in an other stage that is totally compliant," said Jim Greeson, state fire marshal.

Greeson praised the Speedway, saying it was meeting the building and engineering standards prior to them being mandatory.

There is another important part of the new regulations. For the first time, each stage must have an emergency response plan intended to get fans to safety before severe weather hits.

It's already decided that with winds gusting at 20 mph, banners and screens are brought down. At 40 mph, the speakers and canopy are lowered.

"There are tens of thousands of dollars of engineering analysis that were required to make sure we know mathematically the limits of that stage in a wind," said Kevin Forbes, IMS director of engineering. "At the same time, we are now moving people away. As the wind speeds pick up, they are moving people further and further away from the stage structure."

The Speedway's chief engineer was involved with the creation of the new state rules.  He says the emergency plans include a clear chain of command to make sure decisions are made and carried out.

"In terms of who is making those decisions, how those people are reached, where those people congregate in a central location to make sure that decisions are reached," said Forbes.

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