In the tradition of Indy champions, you can kiss the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
How did the tradition start? Dale Jarrett won! In celebration, he and his crew chief knelt and kissed the bricks that mark the start/finish line of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Since Jarrett’s 1996 Brickyard 400 win, champions of the Brickyard, Indy 500, and most other races at the speedway all kiss the bricks. You, too, can kiss the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when you take the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Kiss the Bricks tour.
History of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
At one time the entire Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval was covered with bricks, 3.2 million of them. The bricks were laid in 1909, the year the track opened. However, bricks weren’t the first race course surface.
The track surface started out as a combination gravel, stone, crushed stone, and tar. Unfortunately, that surface didn’t hold up. In fact, during the speedway’s inaugural race, five people died. The track broke up, and a driver, two mechanics, and two spectators were killed.
That fall, the bricks were laid.
However, by 1936 areas of the track needed patching. Those areas were covered with asphalt, and by 1938, asphalt covered almost the entire track. Only three feet at the start/finish line remained exposed brick. A yard of bricks. The same section that’s still brick today. Thus, the speedway’s nickname “Brickyard.”
|The first race ever held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway didn’t involve cars at all—or any other motor vehicle. It was the National Balloon Championship, held on June 5, 1909.|
A few bronze bricks replace the original ones at the start/finish line. These bricks honor each of the four-time Indy 500 winners: A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears. The bronze brick honoring Helio Castronoves hadn’t been laid yet during our visit. Castronoves won the Indy 500 for the fourth time in 2021.
You, Too, Can Kiss the Bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
To kiss the bricks, take the Kiss the Bricks tour, an add-on to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum admission. The tour includes a narrated lap around the two-and-a-half-mile oval via bus. The bus makes a stop at the start/finish line, where you can choose to get off for your own “kiss the bricks” photo op.
More About the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, located inside the track’s oval, includes a huge collection of Indy cars and artifacts. Learn the history of the speedway and drivers, watch the orientation film, and climb inside select cars for more photo ops.
If You Go…
Enter the Indianapolis Speedway at Gate 2, go through the tunnel and follow the signs. GPS address is 4750 W 16th Street, Speedway, Indiana. Check the museum’s website for hours and admission rates.
Thank you for reading Midwest Wanderer. Don’t miss a post. Enter your e-mail address to the right and click Subscribe. We’ll notify you whenever I publish another post. Subscription is FREE. After subscribing, be sure to click the link when you get the e-mail asking you to confirm.– Connie