Manchester bombing on drivers' minds at Indy 500

May 22, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Verizon IndyCar Series driver Alexander Rossi (98) leads a pack of cars out of the pits during practice for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Even in the United States heartland the Manchester bomb attack that killed 22 people and left dozens injured was on the minds of drivers on Thursday who will race in the Indianapolis 500.

Four British drivers, Jack Harvey, a team mate of Fernando Alonso on Andretti Autosport, Max Chilton, Jay Howard and Pippa Mann, the only woman in Sunday's 33-car field, said they were shocked by the horrific scenes in the English city on Monday.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials have no plans to honour the Manchester victims but some drivers are looking at ways to pay tribute themselves.

"Obviously horrendous what happened in my native country," Chilton told Reuters. "I think it’s affected the world not just my country.

"It’s something we have to step up against. It was horrible to see.

"If I can get a sticker I would like to put it on the car. I would like to show my respects. Our thoughts are with our (Manchester) friends and family."

Across the Atlantic, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and other drivers will race in Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix with tributes to those who were killed or injured.

The F1 organisers are also planning a minute's silence before the showcase race with the 10 teams putting the #Manchester hashtag on their cars.

"I think everyone is so in shock. I've got family in Manchester -- the first thing I did was to make sure everyone was okay," Harvey told Reuters.

North American sports team have honoured the victims of the suicide bombing with moments of silence and playing "God Save the Queen".

Prior to an NBA playoff game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics fans paid their respects as the Union Jack appeared on the big screen, while the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins observed a moment of silence before their playoff clash.

"For me, personally, even though I'm British, ... it's a tragedy wherever this happens," said Mann.

The bombing has triggered heightened security around American arenas and ballparks for this Memorial Day holiday weekend.

North America's major sports leagues have strict safety procedures but have urged fans attending games to be vigilant following Monday's bombing at an Ariana Grande pop concert in the Manchester Arena.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be on high alert with as many as 300,000 fans pouring into the sprawling 2.5 mile oval.

Security will be particularly tight on Sunday with United States Vice-President Mike Pence confirming on Sunday that he will attend the race.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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