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New metal detectors at Speedway picking up more than weapons

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On race day, more than 300,000 will crowd into Speedway. Every single person will be watched like a hawk. Some of the eyes will be obvious, others not so much. This year, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is using a new metal detection system that is very sensitive. 

Mike Hrubin says he has been coming to the race since 1959. Over the decades, he has learned what not to bring to the track. On Friday, his cooler set off the metal detector. 

“I think it is okay. It probably has some glitches in it. We set it off after I empty my pockets and everything. I understand they are still working on it and everything, and I don’t mind the wand if it is necessary.” Hrubin said.

IMS has chosen a new metal detector that will be in place at all of the entrances this year. The man responsible for the operation of these new machines is Doug Rich, a retired IMPD officer who has played an integral role in Speedway security for decades.   

“They are set up to detect weapons. Most normal devices that would set off metal detectors will not go off, but clamshell eyeglass cases are setting them off.” Rich said.

The sensitivity of the new metal detector is being set off by umbrellas, apple air tags, some thermoses and coolers with wheels. The device is designed to detect anything that looks like a gun barrel, but it did not go off when News 8’s Richard Essex walked through it with a microphone.  

Mark Thompson found out that something inside of a backpack set off the device. He had three pair of headphones and a couple battery chargers, which individually should not have set off the device. When this happens, a member of the Eclipse security team, a private company hired by IMS to operate the metal detectors, will take each item out of the bag and put it through the metal detector one at a time.  

“All your headphones together as a group are creating enough interference and density to set it off, so there is nothing in there that individually would set it off, but as a group, all of them together is making the detector go off.” said Rich 

The sensitivity of the devices can be adjusted for the crowd and the weather. Humidity, wind, and the heat will affect the sensitivity of the devices.  

On race day, fans coming in through gate one will be scanned by one of 10 machines. We are told there will be at least two metal detectors at the lesser used entrances. I was told that each metal detector can effectively scan 2000 people over the span of an hour. If the line starts to back up, adjustments can be made to speed up the line.  

“We don’t expect the open gates to back up and if they do, we have those tiny adjustments that we can make, but to emphasis it will not compromise it’s ability to detect a sub compact weapon or IED large knife or a rifle barrel.” said Jon Sands, VP of GXC. 

The company that sells the new metal detectors told New 8’s Richard Essex 200,000 people were scanned at a music festival without incident.