KANSAS CITY, Kan, -- NASCAR's checkered flag takes a backseat this weekend.
Stock car's brightest stars make their latest stop at Kansas Speedway this weekend, as events begin on Friday in KCK, and security around the track will be at an all-time high. Speedway administrators say enhanced safety measures will be in place.
It might be cliché, but it’s true. “See Something, Say Something” will be an important phrase at this weekend’s NASCAR event at Kansas Speedway. Track president Pat Warren has been here since the Speedway opened in 2001, and he says fan safety will be at a priority this weekend like never before. Signs bearing the "See Something, Say Something" are posted everywhere, as a reminder to spectators to keep their eyes open for potential trouble.
On Thursday, the big 1.5 mile speedway was quiet, for the most part. That's expected to change on Friday, as hordes of fans will pack the grandstands. NASCAR and its race properties don't release attendance figures, but as many as 100,000 fans are likely to attend.
"Security is always important in any kind of large venue," Warren told FOX 4 News on Thursday morning.
Warren pointed out the sheer size of Kansas Speedway. The venue's infield is cavernous, and large enough to hold Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium with the speedway interior. The vast nature of the facility makes it challenging to police. Adding in parades of fans makes it even tougher.
This weekend's slate of races and qualifying activities will be the first large-scale events hosted at Kansas Speedway since the October first massacre in Las Vegas, where a gunman killed 58 people at an outdoor country music concert. Warren confirmed tragic events like that were considered by NASCAR security officials. Warren says race directors refuse to allow these sporting events to become a soft target for terrorism.
"We certainly have to think about those things. A lot of those things, you plan for in advance, and you look back and you say, 'are the plans we have in place good enough'?" Warren said.
For the first time, metal detecting wands will be used at every entrance to the speedway, checking fans for weapons. The speedway has a longtime policy forbidding weapons of any kind. Large signs enforcing that policy are posted on pedestrian gates all around the speedway property. Also, infield tunnel security officials will be scrutinizing every car that enters the racetrack like never before.
"See something, say something, is really meaningful. If you look at a lot of these instances, and if people had talked about what they had seen, and told someone, a lot of things could have been prevented," Warren commented.
Warren tells me representatives from every law enforcement group you can think of will be on hand, from Department of Homeland Security on down. With tens of thousands of race fans on hand, he says there’s no such thing as too much safety.
This weekend's feature race is the Hollywood Casino 400, a playoff race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, on Sunday afternoon. Fans should start arriving for the weekend's events at Kansas Speedway on Friday.