At the Frontline: International Speedway security chief John Power

How John Power secures Daytona International Speedway and other NASCAR venues

The typical football or baseball game is going to start at a given time and you know that nine innings later, it’s going to be over and the stadiums don’t typically open but an hour or maybe two before the event starts. With our events, which may start as late as eight o’clock at night or thereafter, we’re opening our gates and we’ve got people on the property 12 hours before the event is scheduled to start. I think our events are just that -- events, as opposed to a game.

The other thing that sets NASCAR apart from baseball and football is the access that our fans have to our stars. As someone before me once said, “We let the fans right into the locker room.” You can’t do that in any other sport. Our fans can actually have access to the garages and come up and get an autograph from Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson. So there’s personal contact with the sport of NASCAR.

Have you ever had to deal with a specific threat against one of your facilities and how do handle persons who may be considered obsessed fans or stalkers?

We’ve had very few of those. Typically, the things we deal with are going to be the individual that’s maybe a ‘little off balance’ and we use every resource that we have available. For me here at Daytona Beach, it would be the Daytona Beach Police Department, the sheriff’s department, the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Then we make arrangements to ramp up security for whoever the target is based on what we feel the need is or what’s appropriate.

On occasion, some fans have been displeased with victories by certain NASCAR drivers (i.e. Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch) and have shown their displeasure by throwing objects, such as beer cans, on the track. What types of measures are in place to curtail those types of actions?

Each of our tracks has a plan for dealing with that and you know we look at the different scenarios. A few weeks ago, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a little run in at Richmond. The following week was at Darlington. We anticipated and put a plan together to counteract anything like that may happen. We moved people and uniformed law enforcement personnel around to act as a deterrent. In the past, when incidents this have happened at our racetracks and we’ve been able to identify the people involved in an incident like throwing beer cans on the track, they have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and banned from buying tickets at any of our 12 racetracks.

Have there been any incidents that have occurred since you’ve been director of corporate security for ISC that stick out in your mind that you’ve had to tackle?

I think the most challenging thing that anyone in security would have to handle is the visit by a President of the United States. I think those are probably the most challenging.

ISC currently owns or operates 12 motor speedways across the country including: Daytona International Speedway in Florida; Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama; Michigan International Speedway outside of Detroit, Mich; Richmond International Raceway in Virginia; California Speedway near Los Angeles, Calif; Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan; Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona; Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway near Chicago, Ill; Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida; Martinsville Speedway in Virginia; Darlington Raceway in South Carolina; and Watkins Glen International in New York.