For over a century, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the site of one of the most iconic traditions in motorsports: kissing the bricks. After winning a race at the speedway, drivers and their teams gather at the start-finish line to plant a kiss on the yard of bricks that marks the start of the track. But who started this unique and beloved tradition?
The answer lies in the history of the speedway itself. In 1909, the track was originally paved with 3.2 million bricks, which proved to be a durable surface for the high-speed racing of the time. Over the years, the track has been repaved and resurfaced, but a 36-inch strip of the original bricks remains at the start-finish line as a reminder of the speedway’s past.
It wasn’t until the 1996 Brickyard 400 that the tradition of kissing the bricks began. Driver Dale Jarrett and his crew chief Todd Parrott decided to pay tribute to the history of the track by kneeling and kissing the bricks after their victory. The moment was captured by photographers and quickly became a beloved tradition that has continued to this day.
Today, drivers and teams from all forms of racing at the speedway, including the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, participate in the tradition of kissing the bricks. It’s a symbol of respect for the history of the track and a way to honor the champions who have come before.
But the tradition isn’t without controversy. Some argue that the kissing of the bricks has become over-commercialized, while others feel that the act has lost its meaning. Despite these criticisms, the tradition remains a beloved part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway‘s history and an important reminder of the track’s heritage.
Discover more about the fascinating history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the tradition of kissing the bricks in our in-depth look at this iconic racing tradition.
How It All Began
Legend has it that the tradition of kissing the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway started with a couple named Ray and Alice Harroun in the early 1990s. Ray Harroun was the winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 race in 1911, and he drove a Marmon Wasp that featured an innovative rearview mirror. Years later, when the track was repaved with bricks, Harroun’s son and daughter-in-law decided to make a nostalgic visit. They brought some of the original bricks from the track and kissed them as a sign of respect for the history of the race. The Harrouns’ gesture caught the attention of others, and soon kissing the bricks became a popular tradition at the speedway.
Today, kissing the bricks is an iconic part of the Indianapolis 500 celebration. Fans, drivers, and team members all participate in the tradition as a way to honor the track’s history and pay tribute to the champions who have crossed the finish line before them.
The Rules of Kissing the Bricks
While kissing the bricks is a fun and meaningful tradition, there are some rules that participants must follow. For example, you can’t just walk up to the track and kiss any old brick. There is a designated area near the start/finish line where fans can kiss the bricks. Additionally, you must wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines when participating in the tradition. Finally, it’s important to remember that the bricks are part of a working racetrack, so you should always be aware of your surroundings and follow the instructions of track officials.
- Actor Tom Cruise kissed the bricks after he was a guest of driver Jeff Gordon in 2003.
- Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning has kissed the bricks multiple times, including after he won Super Bowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts.
- In 2016, country music star Keith Urban kissed the bricks after performing at the track’s pre-race concert.
Controversy and Criticism
Despite its popularity, the tradition of kissing the bricks has also faced some controversy and criticism over the years. Some people argue that the practice is unsanitary, while others believe that it’s disrespectful to the history of the track to have so many people walking on the bricks. In response to these concerns, the speedway has taken steps to make the tradition safer and more controlled. For example, they have limited the area where fans can kiss the bricks and implemented hygiene and safety protocols.
Despite the controversy, however, the tradition of kissing the bricks remains a beloved and cherished part of the Indianapolis 500 celebration. It’s a reminder of the history and legacy of the race and the drivers who have competed on the iconic track over the years.
The Meaning Behind the Tradition
While kissing the bricks may seem like a strange tradition, it actually has a deep meaning that dates back decades. The tradition began with a man named Ray Harroun, who won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.
Harroun was the first driver to use a rearview mirror in the race, which was a controversial move at the time. Many people believed that he would not be able to see well enough to drive safely. However, Harroun proved them wrong and went on to win the race.
- After the race, Harroun and his mechanic, Harry M. Stutz, took a victory lap around the track.
- The track was originally made of crushed stone and tar, which was rough on the tires and caused a lot of dust.
- In 1909, the track was paved with 3.2 million bricks, which improved the conditions for drivers and spectators alike.
The First Kiss
Harroun’s victory lap was historic in more ways than one. As he drove around the track, he noticed that the bricks were smooth and free of the dust and debris that had plagued the old surface. He stopped his car, got out, and kissed the bricks in a gesture of gratitude for the improved track conditions.
Since then, every winner of the Indianapolis 500 has followed Harroun’s lead and kissed the bricks after the race.
The Bricks Today
While the track has been repaved several times over the years, a yard of the original bricks still remains at the start/finish line. This yard is where the tradition of kissing the bricks takes place.
Today, thousands of fans gather at the track every year to witness the iconic moment when the winner of the Indianapolis 500 kneels down and kisses the bricks. It’s a moment of celebration and gratitude, and a reminder of the rich history and tradition of the world’s most famous race.
If you’ve ever watched the Indianapolis 500 and wondered why the drivers were kissing the bricks, now you know the fascinating story behind the tradition. But there’s much more to the history of the race and the track itself, so keep reading to discover more about this iconic event.
Notable Brick-Kissing Moments in History
The tradition of brick-kissing is a longstanding ritual in many cultures. It symbolizes reverence for the past and respect for the present. Here are some of the most notable brick-kissing moments in history:
The Great Wall of China
- The Ming Dynasty
- The Cultural Revolution
- The Present Day
The Great Wall of China has been kissed by many emperors, soldiers, and tourists throughout its history. During the Ming Dynasty, the wall was considered a symbol of national pride and was heavily guarded. However, during the Cultural Revolution, the wall was seen as a symbol of oppression and many people were persecuted for showing any reverence towards it. Today, the wall is a popular tourist destination and visitors often take pictures of themselves kissing the bricks.
The Western Wall
- The Roman Empire
- The Crusades
- The Present Day
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is a holy site for Jews and Muslims. It has been kissed by countless pilgrims throughout history, including those from the Roman Empire and during the Crusades. Today, visitors to the Western Wall often write prayers on small pieces of paper and insert them into the cracks between the stones.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Middle Ages
The Present Day
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most famous brick structures in the world. It was built during the Middle Ages and has been kissed by many tourists over the centuries. Today, visitors often take pictures of themselves appearing to prop up the tower with their hands.
Whether for religious, cultural, or tourist reasons, the act of kissing bricks has been a part of human history for centuries. From the Great Wall of China to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, these structures have captured our imaginations and inspired us to show our reverence and respect for the past.
The Controversy Surrounding the Tradition
The act of kissing a brick, a symbol of devotion and appreciation, has been a longstanding tradition for many years. However, this custom has not been without controversy, and some people have spoken out against it for various reasons.
One of the main criticisms of the tradition is the concern for public health. With so many people kissing the same brick, there is a risk of spreading germs and diseases. Additionally, some have argued that the tradition is outdated and no longer serves a meaningful purpose in modern times.
The Spread of Germs
The concern for public health has been a major factor in the controversy surrounding the brick-kissing tradition. Some argue that the act of kissing a brick, particularly in a large group setting, creates a breeding ground for germs and viruses. This is especially true in the current climate, where the world is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. While the risk of contracting a disease from kissing a brick may be low, the potential for transmission cannot be ignored.
Another criticism of the tradition is that it is outdated and no longer serves a meaningful purpose in modern times. Some argue that the act of kissing a brick has lost its original symbolism and is now more of a tourist attraction or a spectacle than a genuine act of devotion. As a result, some people feel that the tradition should be retired and replaced with a more relevant and meaningful gesture.
One less-discussed but equally important controversy surrounding the brick-kissing tradition is the issue of cultural appropriation. In some cases, the tradition is based on the practices of indigenous peoples or other cultures, but has been adopted by outsiders without proper understanding or respect for the original meaning. This has led to accusations of cultural insensitivity and disrespect, and has sparked debate over whether the tradition should be continued or retired.
What Does the Future Hold for Brick-Kissing?
The tradition of brick-kissing has been a controversial topic for many years. Some see it as a cultural tradition that should be preserved, while others view it as a dangerous and unsanitary practice. As society continues to evolve, the future of brick-kissing remains uncertain.
One possible scenario is that the tradition will continue to decline in popularity as people become more health-conscious and aware of the risks associated with kissing bricks. However, it’s also possible that the tradition will adapt to changing times and find new ways to thrive.
Modernization of the Tradition
The tradition of brick-kissing may evolve to keep up with modern times. For example, instead of physically kissing a brick, people may choose to take a photo or make a digital imprint of the brick to preserve the memory. This would eliminate the risk of spreading germs and also make the tradition more accessible to people who may not be comfortable with the physical act of kissing a brick.
Preservation of Historical Landmarks
- The practice of brick-kissing is often associated with historical landmarks and monuments. In order to preserve these sites for future generations, it may be necessary to limit or prohibit brick-kissing in certain areas. This could be done through increased signage, education, and enforcement.
- Another approach could be to create designated areas specifically for brick-kissing, with proper sanitation and safety measures in place. This would allow the tradition to continue in a controlled and safe environment.
Shift in Cultural Attitudes
The future of brick-kissing may also depend on a shift in cultural attitudes towards public health and safety. As people become more aware of the risks associated with the spread of germs, they may be less likely to participate in activities that involve physical contact with shared objects like bricks.
Overall, the future of brick-kissing remains uncertain. While some may view the tradition as outdated and unsanitary, others see it as an important cultural practice that should be preserved. As society continues to evolve, it’s likely that the tradition of brick-kissing will continue to adapt and change with the times.
Who Started Kissing The Bricks Are The Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Why do people kiss the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
People kiss the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a sign of respect and admiration for the history and tradition of the track. The bricks are part of the original track, which was made entirely of bricks when it opened in 1909, and have been preserved as a reminder of the speedway’s storied past. The tradition of kissing the bricks began in 1996 when NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett and his crew chief Todd Parrott started the practice after winning the Brickyard 400.
Are there any rules or guidelines for kissing the bricks?
There are no official rules or guidelines for kissing the bricks, but it is generally considered good etiquette to kneel down and kiss the bricks rather than simply standing on them. Additionally, it is important to be respectful of other visitors who may be waiting for their turn to kiss the bricks. Visitors should also be mindful of any safety hazards, such as loose bricks or uneven surfaces.
How long has the tradition of kissing the bricks been around?
The tradition of kissing the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway began in 1996, after Dale Jarrett and his crew chief Todd Parrott started the practice following their victory in the Brickyard 400. However, the history of the bricks themselves dates back much further, to the original construction of the speedway in 1909. The track was initially made entirely of bricks, and while it has since been repaved with asphalt, a section of the original bricks has been preserved at the start-finish line.
Has anyone ever been injured while kissing the bricks?
While there have been no reports of any serious injuries resulting from kissing the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, visitors should still exercise caution and be mindful of any safety hazards. The bricks are exposed to the elements and may become slick or uneven, particularly in wet weather. Visitors should also be mindful of any other hazards, such as loose or missing bricks or tripping hazards.
Are there any other traditions or rituals associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Yes, there are several other traditions and rituals associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including the playing of “Taps” during the pre-race ceremonies and the release of thousands of balloons before the start of the Indy 500. Additionally, the winner of the Indy 500 is traditionally presented with a bottle of milk to drink in victory lane, a tradition that dates back to the early 20th century.
What other famous sporting events have unique traditions or rituals?
Many other famous sporting events have unique traditions or rituals, including the running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival in Spain, the lighting of the Olympic flame at the start of the Olympic Games, and the Green Jacket ceremony at the Masters golf tournament. These traditions and rituals help to make these events memorable and distinctive, and add to the sense of history and tradition that surrounds them.