How everyone came to “Kiss the Bricks”

Published On March 16, 2016 » 3971 Views» By Donald Davidson » Blogs, Brickyard 400, IMS, IMS History, Indy 500

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.

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“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.

Dan Wheldon gets ready for what's believed to be the first Indy 500 brick kiss, in 2005.

Dan Wheldon gets ready for what’s believed to be the first Indy 500 brick kiss, in 2005.

After his second Indy 500 win in 2011, Dan Wheldon was sure to take plenty more time with the bricks.

After his second Indy 500 win in 2011, Wheldon was sure to take plenty more time with the bricks.


About The Author

Donald Davidson

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson, based at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, developed a passionate interest in the Indianapolis 500 as a teenager in England. Arriving at IMS in 1964, he delighted the racing community with his ability to recite year-by-year accounts of participants’ careers. Returning permanently in 1965, he was invited by Sid Collins to join the worldwide IMS Radio Network and was hired by Henry Banks as USAC statistician, remaining at USAC for almost 32 years. He was named Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian in 1998. Along with numerous television and radio assignments, raconteur Davidson has played host to the popular call-in radio show “The Talk of Gasoline Alley” on 1070 AM in Indianapolis during the month of May continuously since 1971. His writing credits include countless historical articles and columns, a pair of “500” annuals in 1974 and ‘75 and co-authorship with Rick Shaffer of the acclaimed “Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500,” published in 2006.

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.