Boston Marathon Bombings Heighten Security Awareness at Racetracks
- Speedway officials in the U.S. reacted to Monday's Boston Marathon violence by considering enhanced security measures.
- Kansas Speedway, site of the next NASCAR race on Sunday, is already implementing plans in concert with federal and local officials.
- Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said changes are likely at that track.
SPARTA, Kentucky — Monday's Boston Marathon tragedy brought the specter of terrorist violence back to the front burner within the realm of those who conduct sporting events, including auto races.
Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger, speaking at a Ford Racing media event at the track Tuesday, commented on the Boston tragedy and noted the impact on the promoters of auto racing events.
"It's something that we live with," Simendinger said. "You put on an event, you know that this type of thing is possible. Because of that, we deal with a lot of agencies, whether they're federal or state or local, and it's a cooperative effort by everybody to assure the safety of all the patrons and all the participants."
Kansas Speedway announced Tuesday it would increase security for Sunday's STP 400 and related activities this weekend in the wake of the Boston tragedy.
Pat Warren, the Kansas track president, said there have been consultations with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, as well as local authorities regarding security in the aftermath of the Boston incident.
Simendinger said there will probably be changes in security at Kentucky when the Sprint Cup Series visits the weekend of June 29. As for what specifically might be done, he said, "I think it's going to take a little bit of time to sort that out."
Securing an event on private property is much simpler in comparison to an event such as the Boston Marathon, which takes place over a 26.2-mile course on streets of the metropolitan Boston area.
"We can do a lot more things than they can," Simendinger said. "But at the end of the day, obviously we can't eliminate every risk. We eliminate as many risks as we possibly can. We've got to put on a show and we've got to take care of people. We can't have it so tight that nobody can get in or out."
The bombing that killed three in Boston pushed to the sidelines another violent occurrence at a sports event, the suicide death of a race fan at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night. The man apparently shot himself in the head after getting into an argument with other spectators in the infield of the track.
That tragedy is a reflection of "the whole state of mental health in this country," Simendinger said. "Regardless of where it happened, that somebody is that despondent and down that they want to take their own life is just really sad."
Officials at Texas Motor Speedway have not responded to calls from Edmunds
Edmunds says: Ever since the 1972 Olympic Games and the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists, sports have been a target for violence motivated by political and personal reasons. Promoters of events such as auto races are working to do everything they can reasonably do to protect patrons and participants.