SPEEDWAY, Ind. - Known for housing thousands of campers on race weekend, the Coke Lot or Lot 1-C is one of the biggest parties at the Speedway. With record crowds this year, you can bet security will be tighter than ever there, especially following a 2014 homicide in the lot.
Traditionally, the Coke Lot doesn’t fill up with campers until Friday night. IMS officials have reported that almost every spot was taken early Friday morning.
“I come from Michigan, these guys from Indiana,” said one camper.
It’s known as the destination for campers flocking to the Indy 500. The Coke Lot, just outside the track gates, welcomes drivers from every corner of the country.
License plates from Michigan, Florida, and New York covered the grounds on Friday.
“Best place to stay for the Indy 500, yes it is,” said Ron Seward, a Coke Lot camper.
It’s also known as the biggest parking lot party of the weekend
“Every year we stay here and bring a lot of people with us and have a big cookout tonight,” said Seward.
According to Speedway police, a majority of Coke Lot arrests every year are associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
In 2014 though, things took a violent turn when a 25-year-old Kokomo man was shot and killed inside the Coke Lot.
The homicide prompted major security upgrades in 2015.
With this year’s record breaking crowds IMS officials say they are not taking any chances. In the Coke Lot this year, you can anticipate additional Marion County Sheriff's Deputies and Speedway Police officers, and more makeshift lighting to keep the lot bright at night. In 2015, mandatory bracelets for registered campers were implemented, in an effort to limit the number of excess visitors to the lot.
“I literally have dozens and dozens of sheriffs working in these lots all night long tonight,” said Tom Ackerly, an IMS employee, heading up staff at the Coke Lot.
This year’s sellout crowd is making for a memorable weekend in the most popular camping spot at the track.
“This is going to be a new experience for you, me, and 400,000 other people,” said Ackerly.
Expect to see plenty of police in the Coke Lot throughout the weekend, checking to make sure every camper on the property is registered and wearing their required Coke Lot bracelet.