Donald Davidson has been such a blessing as historian (and ambassador) of the IMS and the Indy 500. It was an honor to work Timing & Scoring with USAC and be able to bring stats to him and the cadre of people who announced the race on the IMS network.
We’re chronicling 100 days of Indy 500 history on #SpeedRead leading up to the historic 100th Running. With 74 days to go, IMS Historian Donald Davidson explains another cherished Indy 500 tradition.
“Kissing the Bricks” is a much more recent Indianapolis Motor Speedway tradition, and it is well-documented. It debuted at the third running of NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 event in 1996. While in Victory Circle that year, crew chief Todd Parrott reminded driver Dale Jarrett that they had joked in practice, “If we win this thing, we should go out and kneel down and kiss the bricks.” They proceeded to do precisely that, just the two of them, and it was so spontaneous that it is fortunate anybody captured it on film. Ricky Rudd followed their lead and kissed the bricks in 1997, after which it eventually developed into a major and much-orchestrated photo “opp,” with countless variations of driver and crew chief, driver and owner, driver with family, entire crew, and on and on and on.
Indianapolis 500 winners have followed suit in more recent years, the late Dan Wheldon believed to have been the first. Whenever the conducted “Grounds Tours” are available to the general public at various times of the year, the “kissing of the bricks” is a surprisingly popular feature, visitors from all over the world apparently knowing about it.