Later this week, NASCARâ€™s Sprint Cup Series will celebrate Independence Day weekend as it does each year with a 400-mile race at the sportâ€™s signature track, Daytona International Speedway.
For each of the last 12 years, John Power, director of corporate security for International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and Daytona International Speedway, has overseen security at this race, as well as races held at ISCâ€™s 11 other speedways across the nation.
A Daytona Beach police officer for 25 years, Power has been involved with racing security for most of his career. Less than a week before the Coca-Cola 400 race at the Daytona speedway, Power joins SecurityInfoWatch.com for an "At the Frontline" Interview to share his insights and expertise on NASCAR event security and the unique challenges NASCAR races pose.
What are some of the biggest security challenges you face as it relates to a NASCAR event and how do you approach them?
The biggest issues are the numbers of people that we get into our facilities. Several of our facilities hold well over 100,000 people and not all of them are located in area of the country where resources are readily available, which means that weâ€™ve got to hire an extraordinary amount of people and get those people trained for a one or two day show. Thatâ€™s a big challenge for us.
What particular types of security technology do you implement at your racetracks?
I think most of our tracks are using some of the latest technologies. I donâ€™t want to go in to exactly what all those technologies are. We have involvement from the local government, county, state, and even the federal government and the military involved in our events with different types of technology.
How do you handle security for various high-profile individuals who may visit your facilities?
Weâ€™ve handled everything from the President of the United States on down here at Daytona. Obviously, when the president or a high ranking government official travels, they travel with a security team. They all do advance visits and advanced information gathering at the tracks and we typically supplement their needs with local law enforcement.
What kind of security requirements do you have to comply with for NASCAR and what types of challenges does that pose?
NASCAR has minimum requirements for security for their events and our goals are their goals or their goals are our goals, which ever way you want to look at. Certainly there are things that can be accomplished at larger venues or venues with access to more resources than can be accomplished at some smaller places. But with that said, we require that our tracks comply with and meet or exceed the NASCAR minimum requirements.
How would you compare securing a NASCAR racetrack to the venues of other professional sports?
I think there are several big differences. The first is the sheer volume of people that we have. The Super Bowl was held in Jacksonville, Fla., just up the road from us a few years back. That Super Bowl held 84,000 people. Three weeks later, the Daytona 500 here in Daytona Beach had well over 200,000 people in attendance. Major League Baseball plays 162 games in a year; theyâ€™re going to have at least 81 of those that are home games. So all of their staff has got 81 shots each year at learning their roles, learning their jobs, etcetera. The most NASCAR sprint cup races any of our tracks is going to have are two per year, so weâ€™re constantly hiring new people. Weâ€™re required to hire new people.