LOUDON — For the first time, representatives from the Department of Homeland Security were among the security teams at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the weekend's NASCAR races.
The federal law enforcement presence was due to the Boston Marathon bombings, and because there were more than 100,000 fans in one place, said Loudon Police Chief Robert Fiske."It's the largest sporting event in New England, so they were here just in case," Fiske said.
This year a joint task force of law enforcement officers was formed from more than two dozen police entities, Fiske said, drawing police officers from departments as far away as Middleton and Holderness.
olice, fire-rescue teams, and other law enforcement formed joint operations centered at the town's Fire Station 2, Fiske said, and were ready in case of serious problems.
But there were very few problems all weekend, Fiske said, and the Homeland Security officers played only an advisory role.
"They haven't normally been here, and they weren't called on for anything, knock on wood," Fiske said late Sunday afternoon.As the afternoon's NASCAR Sprint Cup race drew to a close, police closed Route 106 northbound to the track to make three southbound lanes, and closed the southbound lanes north of the track to make three northbound lanes. Both dedicated three-lane highways met with Interstate 93. The southbound lanes joined in Concord, the northbound lanes in Tilton.
In all his years of leading the law enforcement presence at the race, Fiske said there haven't been any major problems with helping to ensure tens of thousands of fans and their vehicles depart. "It's amazing when you think about how many cars and pedestrians we deal with," he said. "Again, knock on wood."