Iconic Race Celebrations and Traditions

dario franchitti celebrates win of 2007 Indianapolis 500Iconic celebrations. They seem to be a fairly common occurrence at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Often one driver’s unique celebration becomes a tradition that future race winners will also perform. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the birthplace of what may be the most iconic celebration, the drinking of milk in victory lane. But regardless if the tradition began at the Brickyard or not, when they do occur there they just seem to be on a grander scale. While some open wheel drivers have started a few traditions of their own, the NASCAR boys have added a couple as well.

Long before the “Got Milk?” campaign was even born, the drinking of the milk by the Indianapolis 500 champion was started by Louis Meyer in 1936. Milk companies soon thereafter began sponsoring the race and thus the tradition of the race winner drinking milk during the victory celebration.

Though not actually started at Indianapolis, the climbing of the fence was first made famous by Helio Castroneves in the 2000 Detroit Grand Prix. In 2005 Tony Stewart started doing his own version of the fence climb. Tony took it a step further and scaled the fence to the top to personally claim the checkered flag from the flag stand. While he made the fence climb a total of four times that year, the climb at the Brickyard was surely the most famous.

Another traditional post-race celebration was born at the Brickyard thanks to the NASCAR Cup series team of Robert Yates Racing. It was the kissing of the bricks. This iconic celebration was born in 1996 after Dale Jarrett won his first of two Brickyard 400 races. Jarrett’s crew chief, Todd Parrott, is credited with starting the tradition of having the entire race team kneel down along the row of bricks that make up the Start/Finish line on the speedway. The team members then turn their caps around backwards and proceed to kiss the bricks in celebration of the win. This iconic celebration has since been adopted by the open wheel drivers after winning the Indianapolis 500.

Considering the above mentioned celebrations, the kissing of the bricks is my favorite. I cringe at the thought of a driver or crew member falling off the fence and facing injury or death. The drinking of milk has it’s roots primarily from sponsor commitments, and frankly, don’t we have enough of that going on at every race and interview? But kissing the bricks, that’s classy and shows the entire race team’s enthusiasm and appreciation for their accomplishment.

So, which post-race celebration or tradition is your favorite? Maybe it’s the Polish victory lap? Surely it’s not the snow-angel, right? But maybe it’s the Icky-Shuffle, the back flip off the car, or simply taking a bow. Check out these iconic examples below and let’s hear your choice!

Helio Castroneves climbs the fence celebrating IRL win. Jimmie Johnson and Lowes team celebrates Brickyard 400 win by kissing the bricks. Tony Stewart and The Home Depot team celebrates Brickyard 400 win by climbing the fence.