SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Among the sights of crowds and cars at the Indianapolis 50 is the color yellow.
The IMS Safety Patrol, also known as the Yellow Shirts, has protected and guided fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for more than 70 years. However, the last race was very different for the crew due to no fans at the track and the race being held in August.
One Yellow Shirt we spoke to says he’s just excited to get back to a more normal feel.
“This is my 50th anniversary as a Yellow Shirt,” said Steve Somermyer.
In recent months, IMS transformed into the greatest spectacle in vaccines distributing tens of thousands of COVID-19 shots in drive-thru fashion.
Vaccine clinics will also be available for race fans on race day. More than 135,000 spectators are expected on Sunday.
Somermyer and the rest of the Yellow Shirts are revving up for the comeback. And they’re ready for just about anything, including problem solving.
“If they have an issue…like they lost power in one of the garages, or a restroom is not functioning, or we have a lost child…I try to connect the dots.”
Another of their roles include keeping a watching eye over IMS and the big crowds.
“I can be the eye in the sky and detect where big crowds, pitch points are,” said Somermyer.
After 50 years, he says there’s no place he’d rather be in the month of May than in that yellow shirt. It’s a bright spot after a challenging year.
“We feel there’s a sense of accomplishment, but there’s also a satisfaction you know, we helped make it happen.”
According to Somermeyer, IMS is always looking for more Yellow Shirts from all over the country.
While it’s too late to work the 500 on Sunday, he says you can apply to work for IMS later this year or for the Indy 500 next year.