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Security Official Sees Welcome Environment for All in INDYCAR, IMS

Friday, February 3, 2023 Joey Barnes, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Brian Mahone

Brian Mahone joined IMS and INDYCAR in 2022 after working in law enforcement around Indianapolis and serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Note: This is part of a series of feature stories celebrating Black History Month in February.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has provided a lifetime of memories for Brian Mahone.

The director of safety & security for IMS/INDYCAR, Mahone’s introduction began as an 8-year-old Indiana native, which came courtesy of his father loading up the family van to attend The Brickyard for Month of May festivities.

Mahone’s job within the sport is a culmination of roles spanning the past four-plus decades, all of which have centered around the Indianapolis 500 and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Now 53, his background is full of unique experiences. He spent eight and a half years in the Marine Corps, ending as a sergeant. During that time he served in Operation Desert Storm and had stops that included being stationed in England with people who recognized the Indy 500.

He returned home at the end of his service in the Marines and joined the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), which put him front and center for several opportunities at IMS; spending time working intersections, being a traffic officer running escorts and even performing on-track with the Marion Sheriff’s Department Motorcycle Drill Team. He also served as an operations chief of Homeland Security and a special operations incident commander.

Mahone’s final day as special operations commander at IMPD was last year’s 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. The next day, he took on the new challenge in his current role with IMS/INDYCAR. Through it all, he has remained a fan at heart.

“I was here one year, and I remember A.J. Foyt talking on the PA system after one of his qualifying runs,” Mahone said. “And he was just using some very colorful words, and I was like, 'Oh, this place is pretty cool.' As a kid, it was just interesting.

“So, the different areas of my life and career have kind of centered around the Indianapolis 500. And it was kind of poetic that my last day on the police force was sitting out here in Pagoda 9 as an incident commander for public safety and then the next day coming to work for INDYCAR/IMS.”

As far as his favorite driver, Mahone appreciated none other than “The Flying Dutchman”, two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk.

“We used to race our slot cars, and that was our New Year's Eve thing where when our parents were doing their party, we would have the slot cars and we'd have our own Indianapolis 500 with the slot cars on the track,” Mahone said. “And we had this, it was called TCR - Total Control Racing - and Arie Luyendyk was actually on the box. I remember that was my favorite driver. And then last year I'm sitting out at one of the races and I'm sitting next to Arie Luyendyk, and I'm like, 'This is surreal.' He's a great guy.”

While it wasn’t planned, it’s remarkable to see how Mahone’s journey has almost been a seamless path to the Speedway.

“It seems like that,” he said. “I tell you, it wasn't always the goal, but when the opportunity, the position came open, it was like, 'I would love to do that.' And what was really nice for me is having been around the facility and the people for so long, I didn't feel like I was going into a new place, if that makes sense. I was familiar with a lot of the people, a lot of location, just from years being out here. It felt like a natural transition; it felt like the perfect move for me.”

A remarkable and unique life, Mahone also doesn’t shy away from recognizing it. All the best reason why he also understands why his influence as a role model to many.

“I think you always have to see yourself as a role model because, especially as a father, being out here in the community, the role model doesn't necessarily have to be related to race or gender,” Mahone said. “Role models just help that next generation see what they might want to become or might want to do. I think that's important because if people can't see it and they can't envision it, it's hard for them to try to attain it.

“So, I kind of have to think of myself as a role model because I know that there's a next generation, a younger generation out there who wants to say, 'Hey.' For years, even in the city, as we try to make or get more diversity in the race community and the fan base, there's people who in the Black community who might not even come out to this track who haven't attended the ‘500.’

“I see tons of people say, 'I've never been to a race.' And I think, ‘Well, ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,' it's right here in our backyard.’ But I don't think it's that we're not welcoming, I just think that years ago maybe that just wasn't part of the fabric of racing. But I think I'm seeing that change, especially when we go into Black History Month, and we start looking at what does that mean?

“For me, you ask a question about role model, I try to let that next generation know, and the younger people – officers or anybody I've worked with – is as we go forward, it won't be Black history, it'll just be history. So yeah, you almost have to see yourself as a role model, especially if you know that people are watching and then as having kids, I think that's important.”