Indy 500 fans angered by long lines to enter track

INDIANAPOLIS — Tighter security imposed at the Indianapolis 500 after the Boston Marathon bombings caused bottlenecks Sunday that angered hundreds of fans who stood in line for up to two hours to enter the speedway and said some security officials largely abandoned their checks as the green flag was waved.

Massive crowds swelled outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway entrances as security guards clad in yellow shirts set out to check every ice cooler to make sure it met new size limits and wasn’t carrying any contraband. Sheriff’s deputies stood nearby in case things got out of hand.

Fans whose coolers violated the size limits were told to lug them back to their cars, in some cases parked several blocks away in makeshift lots that charged as much as $75. Others who had tickets saw reports of lines lasting up to two hours and opted to stay home.


‘‘People were getting short,’’ said Speedway resident Richard Kappel, who waited an hour to enter the track.

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Indiana State Police Sergeant Rich Myers blamed the bottleneck on late-arriving fans and said there were more security workers on duty to check coolers than in the past. But speedway spokesman Doug Boles acknowledged that the new security provisions, which also included closure of a key route into the track, affected the situation.

‘‘I do think the root cause of that was that we were elevating our cooler restrictions,’’ Boles said.

Boles said security guards were told to stop stubbing tickets to speed things up and to use their own judgment regarding coolers as loud boos arose from the hundreds of fans still outside when the race started.

‘‘At the very end, they kind of opened up the floodgates,’’ said John Bumstead of Logansport, Ind.


Boles said track officials would review this year’s crowd control to find ways to improve it next year without sacrificing security.

Runners honored

Nancy Smith, a 57-year-old third-grade teacher from suburban Detroit whose Boston Marathon finish was blocked by the bombings, had a chance to run in front of an even bigger crowd at the Indianapolis 500.

Smith of Shelby Township, Mich., was one of about 35 Marathon participants who got a chance to run on a half-mile stretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before the race.

Smith had finished 12 straight Boston Marathons before this year, when she and other participants were halted short of the finish April 15.

No fourth celebration

Dario Franchitti’s disappointment in failing to join the exclusive club of four-time 500 champions was somewhat assuaged when he realized who had won.


The defending race winner crashed with two laps to go, forcing the race to end under caution. Tony Kanaan had just made a dramatic pass of Ryan Hunter-Reay to seize the lead, and then coasted across the finish line.

‘‘Sums up our day,’’ Franchitti said after his wreck. ‘‘I went into the first corner on the last restart, and it just didn’t turn, and then the hit. The big, ’ol hit.’’

Fellow three-time winner Helio Castroneves spent most of the day near the front, even leading a lap. But he was stuck in sixth when the caution flag came out and the race came to an end.

‘‘I can’t wait to come back,’’ the Brazilian said. ‘‘Everything we went through, it certainly worked much better than last year. We’re going to continue to work from tomorrow on, and hopefully we can come back even better next year.’’

Castroneves and Franchitti came up short in their attempt to join A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, and Al Unser as the only four-time winners.

Local success

The local boy led the field through the first lap to the green flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and then Ed Carpenter proceeded to lead the most laps of the afternoon with 37. Everything was a success except for the finish. Carpenter, who was stuck in 10th when Franchitti hit the wall, felt he had one of the best cars in the race. ‘‘It was a tough race — a great field of cars,’’ said Carpenter, the Butler University alum and avid Indiana Pacers fan who just happens to be the stepson of IndyCar founder Tony George. ‘‘We could have made a couple of different decisions that could have changed the outcome,’’ he said, ‘‘but I'm to blame for that. We probably thought we were a little bit better than we were, and at the end, we just didn’t have what it took.’’ . . . Actor Jim Nabors was back to sing ‘‘Back Home Again in Indiana,’’ his 34th live performance at the race since 1972 . . . San Francisco 49ers coach John Harbaugh drove the pace car and former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was among those in attendance.