The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), also known as The Brickyard, is one of the most historic venues in motorsport. The IMS is the highest capacity sports venue in the world, at full capacity, there is space for 400 000 fans inside the oval racetrack. The IMS famously got its nickname in the early 1900’s when the track was first built, the entire track was paved with bricks. Today one yard of bricks still remains exposed at the start-finish line. The IMS is famous for more than just it’s brick surface, the IMS is also home to one of the world’s most famous motor racing events, the Indy 500.
The tradition of the bricks lives on till this day, race winners at IMS ceremonially kiss the bricks at the end of the race. Local racing fans and IMS fans take a lot of pride in the bricks at the Brickyard and they take offence if someone does anything to damage the bricks. Fans want the bricks unscathed by the time that the Indy 500 rolls around on Memorial Day weekend every year.
NASCAR drivers, in particular, have come under some scrutiny in terms of their post-race behavior on the track and on the bricks. NASCAR drivers are known for their extravagant celebrations which include burnouts at the start/finish line.
IMS fans have made it clear that they prefer IndyCar racing over NASCAR and they definitely let the NASCAR guys know how they feel about keeping the bricks clean, and they do this with good reason, someone does have to kiss those bricks at the end of the day after all.
The latest NASCAR racer to upset fans by doing a burnout on the bricks was recent Xfinity Series race winner, Justin Allgaier. The marks left on the bricks by Allgaier created quite an uproar on social media following the race. And the fans are right when it comes to this one, the track is 2.5 miles long so there is plenty of space to celebrate with burnouts and donuts, but the bricks need to be left alone.
In 2015 president of IMS, Doug Boles, asked NASCAR drivers to please respect the bricks after Kyle Busch left some serious marks on the bricks following a race. NASCAR drivers, in general, aren’t known for being very sophisticated and acts like these further tarnish their reputation.
The “kissing of the bricks” is a fairly new tradition, this tradition was started in 1996 by NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett after his victory in the Brickyard 400 that same year. Jarrett and crew chief, Todd Parrott, walked out to the start finish line, they kneeled down and kissed the bricks to pay tribute to the history of this famous racetrack. The rest of the team joined them for a group kiss and subsequently, a tradition was born that has lived on ever since.
The winners of the Indy 500 have upheld the kissing of the bricks tradition along with the ceremonial drinking of the milk to celebrate a win in one of the most grueling races in motorsport.
The kissing of the bricks is essentially a NASCAR tradition and fans are of the meaning that NASCAR drivers, in particular, should indeed take even more pride in preserving the famous bricks at the Brickyard.
The bricks at the IMS are and will continue to be a sacred piece of the track for many generations to come. It is unclear who will kiss the bricks next, but one thing is for certain, Fernando Alonso would love to be the next guy to kiss the bricks after the 104th running of the Indy 500 in May 2020.