INDIANAPOLIS — In a town known as the Racing Capital of the World, it’s commonplace to see speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
But Indiana State Police say they were caught off guard to discover a car racing that fast on the city’s busiest highway.
“It’s not something you see every day, let alone a Lamborghini,” said State Trooper Brandon Fletcher. “To be going that fast on the highway, that’s beyond the realm of acceptable.”
The high-speed drive along Interstate 465 made headlines when the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office announced criminal charges against Gabriel Sleiman in January 2021.
But until now, the actual evidence that investigators collected – including video showing Sleiman driving his Lamborghini at nearly four times the legal speed limit – have remained out of public view. That evidence, obtained by 13News, shows a young man seeking thrills and attention while placing himself and other motorists at risk of serious injury or death.
Captured on video
In November 2020, 13News learned of a 108-second video uploaded to YouTube. The video, which includes footage from inside the Lamborghini Huracan and from two different positions along I-465, allegedly shows the sports car traveling from 0 to 213 mph.
The drive begins with the Lamborghini stopped along the shoulder of I-465 near the Indianapolis International Airport at mile marker 9.1. The driver then pulls out onto the far left passing lane of the highway and stops again before quickly accelerating northbound.
Over the next 17 seconds, the highly edited video cuts back and forth between a front-facing camera showing the highway ahead and a dashboard camera showing the speedometer as it increases from 90 to 168 mph. A clock on the dashboard reads 2:52 a.m..
Moments later, dashboard video shows the sports car traveling 182 mph before it passes another vehicle several feet away. The Lamborghini then appears to pass a semi as the dashcam reveals a speedometer reading of 198 mph.
As the video comes to a conclusion, a camera positioned on an overpass shows the speeding car race past a third vehicle at 210 mph before cutting to dashboard video that reads 213 mph.
The driver’s face is not visible and the license plate was intentionally obscured in the video, which was posted to YouTube on November 18, 2020 by Bryce Thompson Media.
When 13News contacted Indiana State Police for comment about the video, a department spokesman said ISP troopers had not seen it. A day later, ISP assigned Fletcher to investigate. He began by downloading the video, which disappeared from YouTube a short time later.
Collecting the evidence
The online video provided ISP with a key piece of evidence it would need to pursue charges against the driver.
“If there’s a crime and it’s recorded, that’s huge,” Fletcher told 13News. “The video was extremely important.”
He got additional help from the department’s crash reconstruction team, which analyzed the video frame-by-frame to determine if the speeds depicted on the Lamborghini’s speedometer were accurate.
“Because we know the distance between mile markers - each one’s a tenth of a mile - our crash reconstructionists were able to calculate the speed based on the timing he passed these mile markers,” Fletcher explained, pointing to the mile markers that appear to whiz by in the video. “So not only do you have what they’re documenting in the video, but also what we can prove with math.”
ISP’s mathematical calculations showed the Lamborghini was traveling an actual speed of at least 198 mph as it passed another vehicle – 143 mph over the posted speed limit on I-465.
As part of the investigation, Fletcher found other online videos showing the same Lamborghini with a visible license plate. He was quickly able to track the car to Sleiman, a 35-year-old mechanic who lists a Westfield address.
The state trooper also found online interviews with Sleiman. During those interviews, the suspect described his involvement with street racing and stated he is “fully addicted” to increasing the performance of vehicles and racing them. Sleiman also said, “Let me reiterate what I like: To go fast. On the highway.”
Despite the videos, investigators still had to prove it was actually Sleiman behind the wheel of the Lamborghini as it was speeding northbound along 465.
Fletcher discovered the additional evidence he needed by obtaining a search warrant for Sleiman’s social media accounts.
A few days after posting the video, Sleiman boasted on Facebook, "I needed a good stretch of clean road to pull it off. I can’t imagine what those people I passed were thinking lol.”
ISP also interviewed Bryce Thompson, who videotaped Sleiman’s early-morning drive along I-465. According to a probable cause affidavit, Thompson acknowledged that he set up cameras to record Sleiman driving but did not ride in the vehicle. He also told ISP “he did not adjust the speed of the Lamborghini or add other vehicles to the road” while editing the footage he posted to YouTube.
Fletcher said the case was a “slam dunk” based upon the strong evidence and statements collected, adding that the most troubling part of the investigation was watching a sports car passing so close to other unsuspecting vehicles at 200 mph.
“All it takes is somebody changing lanes or you to lose control of your vehicle for even a second - especially at that speed - and it’s not worth it. Somebody won’t be going home,” the state trooper told 13News. “People should be held accountable for it when they want to put other people in danger.”
Regular speeding ticket not enough
When ISP referred the case to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Prosecutor Ryan Mears took a personal interest.
Mears told 13News he routinely sees dangerous drivers while commuting to work and has dozens of pending cases involving traffic fatalities caused by high speeds and reckless driving. To Mears, learning of someone driving 215 mph on a public highway was just another example of a growing problem, and he wanted to send a message.
“I cannot imagine seeing someone going 215 mph like that. I mean, that’s what we see at the Indy 500 where you can barely see the car as it’s going around the track. And that’s how fast this individual was driving on 465,” he said. “Just a regular speeding ticket wasn’t going to be sufficient. We needed to do more than that.”
Rather than a simple citation, Mears charged Sleiman with reckless driving, a criminal misdemeanor that brings the potential of jail time. He felt the charge was appropriate, especially in light of Sleiman’s driving record.
13 Investigates obtained that record from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It shows since 2005, Sleiman has been caught speeding 24 separate times, including six speeding tickets in roughly the past three years. Among his violations, Sleiman has been ticketed for driving 84, 100 and 108 mph, not to mention the 213.
This summer, a judge in Marion County Superior Court found Sleiman guilty of the reckless driving charge, sentencing the mechanic to 10 days in jail and nearly $700 in fines.
At the same time, the BMV classified him as a Habitual Traffic Violator, suspending Sleiman’s driving privileges for five years following this latest violation.
“There’s no place for that in our community,” Mears said. “It impacts all of us. It impacts everybody who’s on the roadways.”
Following Sleiman’s conviction, 13 Investigates submitted an Access to Public Records Act request to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office to inspect all evidence introduced in his criminal case. The prosecutor’s office complied with the request by releasing video of the 213 mph drive on I-465, as well as social media posts obtained by ISP’s search warrant and other evidence introduced in court.
Reckless driving at record levels
Because of the growing impact of reckless driving, local and state police have launched targeted patrols to crack down on the type of excessive speed and aggressive driving that’s rampant not only on area highways, but also in neighborhoods.
Last year, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute awarded Indiana police departments $6.5 million in grants to help curb reckless driving. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department got $1.5 million of those funds, with another $1 million going to Indiana State Police.
Following those grants, city leaders announced additional patrols in Marion County to slow an increase in street racing, which has resulted in multiple accidents and prompted persistent complaints from residents.
"We are taking this issue seriously, enhancing traffic enforcement in residential areas and places where we’ve seen illegal racing. Make no mistake - If you put other people's lives at risk with dangerous driving, you will pay the consequences," Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said during a June press conference with IMPD and ISP.
So far this year, IMPD says it has issued nearly 1,200 tickets during reckless driving patrols referred to as “Operation Slowdown.”
ISP has seen a noticeable rise in reckless driving over the past several years. The 1,019 reckless driving citations ISP issued last year represent a 42% increase over 2018.
The Marion County prosecutor reports a lot more reckless driving cases, too.
“When we talk about reckless driving, we’re talking about something that endangers people who are just trying to get to work, go to the grocery store or just taking their kids to school,” Mears said. “We’ve seen a significance increase in that.”
More reckless driving means more injuries and more lives lost.
Last year in Indiana, traffic crashes caused 917 deaths and nearly 4,700 serious injuries – both record levels – according to data released by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
While it is much too soon to calculate final statistics for 2022, it appears the number of deaths and serious injuries related to reckless driving may not be slowing.
The latest fatal crash attributed to reckless driving happened Wednesday night on the east side of Indianapolis. Investigators say 36-year-old Bonnie Elam tried to pass another car on Shadeland Avenue at a high rate of speed when she crashed into the vehicle and then hit a light pole.
Still driving despite five-year suspension
With reckless drivers posing such a high risk to public safety, it may come as little surprise that drivers like Gabriel Sleiman get their license suspended after multiple incidents of speeding or reckless driving within a short period of time.
But despite a recent 5-year suspension and two dozen speeding tickets on his driving record, 13 Investigates has discovered Sleiman is still driving. And he’s doing so legally.
In Indiana, suspended drivers – including habitual traffic violators – can appeal their suspensions.
That’s exactly what Sleiman chose to do. Following his conviction for reckless driving, the auto mechanic sued the BMV for specialized driving privileges. A judge granted the request.
So in early August – just six weeks after his license was suspended for driving 213 mph along I-465 – Sleiman left the Hamilton County Courthouse with a court order allowing him to drive to work, medical appointments and church. He’s also allowed to stop along the way for groceries and to fill up his gas tank.
Late-night joy rides are not included in the judge’s order, but you still might see Sleiman on a local highway.
Contacted by 13News, Sleiman said he’d like to talk more about his speeding tickets but has been advised by his attorney not to discuss the violations with the media.
“This whole process has really sucked,” he told 13News earlier this week. “I learned from my experience.”
Those comments are a major shift from what he posted last year on Instagram, when followers congratulated him on making headline for his reckless driving arrest.
“Thanks dude! Lol” and “Totally worth it,” Sleiman replied.
That was before he spent 10 days in jail and the BMV restricted his driving privileges.
Sleiman did point out several of his speeding tickets are for driving too fast on 465, where he said drivers get “run over” if they abide by the 55 mph speed limit.
“I feel singled out. I’m not condoning speeding by any means. Obviously, it was reckless,” he said of driving 213 mph. “I just think there are a lot of people driving really crazy, drivers who flee from police and weave in and out of traffic. That’s way more reckless than my stunt.”