NASCAR drivers share their favorite Indy traditions

Published On July 14, 2015 » 2098 Views» By John Schwarb » Blogs, Brickyard 400, Cup Series, IMS, Indy 500

We’re less than two weeks away from NASCAR’s annual stop at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Earlier this year, a few drivers were asked to share their favorite IMS traditions:

Jimmie Johnson (four-time Brickyard winner): “On ‘500’ qualifying day hearing Tom Carnegie, who would always do the broadcast and ‘heeee’s on it,’ that was a very cool tradition. Jim Nabors singing is always a great moment. But the one that’s etched in all racers’ minds is the three-wide start. The pace laps seeing everyone three-wide, coming off of (Turn) 4, three-wide, from a competitor’s standpoint is something I identify with.”

Jamie McMurray (2010 Brickyard winner): “Kissing the bricks for sure. If you ever get to do that, that’s a memory. For me it was really special, my wife was pregnant with our little boy when we got to kiss the bricks so in the picture that we have, she has a huge belly. That’s a good memory.”

Owner Chip Ganassi (right in white shirt), Jamie McMurray (second from right) and wife Christy kissed the bricks in 2010.

Owner Chip Ganassi (right, in white shirt), Jamie McMurray (second from right) and wife Christy kissed the bricks in 2010.

Sam Hornish Jr. (2006 Indianapolis 500 winner): “For me, while I was (racing in the ‘500’), all the added things were a little difficult to do because it just seemed like it took away from what your focus is. As far as seeing it from the outside now and being able to look at it from that point of view – to the parade, to drinking milk, to all the things that go on in the morning, to the open drivers’ meeting, that’s all the history and the heritage and that’s what makes it so special, all those added things that you don’t do on a typical weekend.”

Danica Patrick (seven-time Indianapolis 500 starter): “‘Tradition’ is the biggest word that comes to mind when talking about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There’s just a special feel to the track and the atmosphere and I think that being part of something like that holds great memories.”


Tradition = Jim Nabors.

Ty Dillon (2014 Lilly Diabetes 250 winner): “Kissing the bricks. It’s the greatest tradition there is in racing. Bigger than any trophy or any amount of money, is being able to kiss those bricks.”

A.J. Allmendinger (2013 Indianapolis 500 starter): “Drinking the milk. I grew up as an open-wheel guy, that’s what I grew up watching and seeing the tradition of drinking the milk.”

Justin Allgaier (2014 Brickyard starter): “Probably leading up to the race start. From the time they start all the pre-race ceremonies to the time that the cars fire up, for me, is just a neat time. As a racer, you get so nervous, but the luster of what goes on there really takes your mind off of everything else.”

Regan Smith (five-time Brickyard starter): “I loved Jim Nabors singing, I used to wait to watch that and see that. Drinking milk after a race just doesn’t seem that appealing to me, now if it was because I won the Indy 500, I wouldn’t have a problem doing it then.”


About The Author

John Schwarb

I joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway communications team in July 2014 and love sharing stories from the World Capital of Racing, particularly its rich history. Most of my professional career has been in racing or golf, so if I'm not in the IMS media center, the office at 16th and Georgetown or milling around Gasoline Alley, maybe I'll be standing over a birdie putt at Brickyard Crossing. Follow us at @IMS or drop me a line at @JohnSchwarb and come back to the blog often for more stories.