- Associated Press - Thursday, May 24, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus has some simple advice for race fans this weekend.

He wants them to drink plenty of water and limit their activity Sunday at the track.

With forecasts calling for temperatures in the 90s, potentially making the Indianapolis 500 the hottest ever, Belskus and track officials are urging fans to play it smart in the unusual heat.

“We are concerned and we are taking appropriate actions to deal with it,” Belskus said Thursday. “It does look at this point like it will be a scorcher and the infield care center is geared up for everything it may encounter.”

No additional workers are expected to be manning the care center Sunday because, Belskus explained, they keep a consistent ratio of workers to fans at the track no matter the circumstances.

Instead, track officials are installing additional cooling stations, misting stations and fans. Local law enforcement officials are also reminding fans to avoid drinks that are high in sugar and alcoholic beverages in the heat.

How hot could it get?

Forecasts are already calling for highs in the 90s with the potential of hitting 95 degrees during the race. If that happens, it would set a new track record _ and not the kind Belskus is necessarily looking for. The hottest 500 took place in 1937 when the thermometer hit 92 degrees.

While temperatures that high are virtually unheard of in Indy in May, track officials are using their experiences of recent years to help them prepare. Last year’s race day temperature, Belskus recalled, was 89 degrees. And, of course, the temperatures can get far hotter in late July when the stands are filled with NASCAR fans.

All of it is helping the speedway prepare for Sunday.

“We’ve encountered heat like this and taken measures like this with the Brickyard 400, so we have some experience with cooling stations, misting stations and fans,” Belskus said. “We’ve been focusing on getting the word out to take care of yourselves and stay hydrated.”

The heat could also affect one of race day’s biggest staples, beer sales.

Belskus noted that when it gets too hot, sales figures actually slide and it could happen again this weekend.

But opinions vary on whether fans will actually heed the advice.

“I’ll have a few better, but not my normal intake,” said Jessica Baker, a 27-year-old from nearby Mooresville. “I have a feeling people are going to be dropping like flies.”

Others, like 51-year-old Dwight Horn of Lafayette, are taking a different tack.

The construction worker has attended 35 consecutive races and has grown accustomed to the heat. He’s even seen two of his friends succumb to heat exhaustion at the track.

His solution _ bring more ice.

“I try to drink more water when it’s this hot, but it never happens,” Horn said. “So I just put more ice in my mixed drinks. The best thing to do is get in the shade. But when my friend went down I bought a T-shirt, dipped it in water and put it around his neck.”

With the green flag set to drop shortly after noon Sunday, fans can use all the help they can get.

“We hope people hydrate and take the normal precautions,” Belskus said. “Hydration is important.”

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