The first time I was on the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a bus tour with my dad in 1992. What I remember about the ride around the track was the banking and Dad and I wishing we would go just a little bit faster. We also joked about taking our van out on the track. We had a great time. I don’t remember if we stopped at the bricks or not. We definitely did not think about kissing the bricks. The tradition had not yet begun.
Sadly, what has become a treasured tradition at the Speedway was actually started after a NASCAR race. Dale Jarrett won the Brickyard 400 in 1996. Jarrett and crew chief Todd Parrott walked to the yard of bricks, knelt down and kissed the bricks to pay tribute to the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And just like that a tradition was born. Now every winner of every race kisses the bricks. It has become so popular a tradition that the bus tour at the IMS Museum is called the Kiss the Bricks tour. My boys and I recently went on this tour on Mother’s Day (read previous post).
I named my blog I Kissed The Bricks when I began blogging shortly after our trip to qualifying in 2012. My boys and I kissed the bricks in the infield while waiting for our IMS kids club event. We were just being silly and when I was trying to come up with a good title for my blog I Kissed The Bricks kept coming back to me so I went with it. I had never kissed the bricks at the start/finish line though.
Some people can’t wait for a chance to kiss the bricks. Many feel a special appreciation for the Speedway and show that appreciation by kissing the bricks. Some people wouldn’t put their lips on the dirty track for any amount of money even though they clearly love the Speedway. Some feel that kissing the bricks is reserved for those fortunate few who have raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and had the twin checkers wave as they crossed the finish line, they are the real deal and the only ones who should be kissing the bricks.
So where do I stand?
A couple years ago when I kissed the bricks in the infield I would have not thought twice about kissing the bricks on the track. I would have gladly placed my lips and the sun warmed bricks for a good long kiss. I have no problem with the actual act of kissing the bricks, heck I kissed the ones in the plaza area, I’m sure they are much dirtier that those on the track.
However, when the boys and I learned we would be able to do the bus tour due to the track not having such a quick turnover time to the oval setup I wasn’t sure if I would be kissing the bricks when we stopped along the main straightaway. Sounds silly but I was quite unprepared to make this decision as I didn’t expect it to be an option. So I played a back and forth game with myself and I tried to decide. Two things kept coming back to me. Do it- the name of your blog is I Kissed The Bricks. Don’t do it- you are not an Indy 500 winning driver, you haven’t completed any big milestone and once you do it you can’t undo it. I hold no judgment against those who have kissed the bricks but I just wasn’t sure this was the right time.
Our tour began and I focused on the track and the history and was no longer concerned about which decision I would make. As we slowed at the bricks I told my boys they would be kissing the bricks. They both thought that was the worst idea ever, gross and disgusting, who would do that. Nevermind that they both did it years prior in the infield. Their stubbornness just made me more insistent that they do it. I reminded them it was Mother’s Day and we walked toward the yard of bricks. We knelt down for our photo. The boys covered their faces and did not kiss the bricks. I puckered up, placed my face so close to the bricks I could feel the heat from them on my face and lips but I did not allow my lips to touch the bricks. I would have loved kissing them, letting the history all soak in and having a way to show how thankful I am for all the memories I have at the Speedway but on that Sunday it wasn’t going to happen. Perhaps one day I will kiss the bricks. Maybe when I attend with my first grandchild, maybe when I’m old and sick and fear it will be my last trip, maybe after some big milestone in my life but on that particular Sunday I wasn’t ready to kiss them. Perhaps I just wasn’t ready to make that memory. I still want to look forward to it. Some might call me a tease as I did everything but actually kiss the bricks but I’m good with my decision and while I was right there pretending to kiss the bricks I know I still have that sweet experience to look forward to at some point in the future.
I love the book Long Kiss by Charles West. He writes about his trip to IMS over a ten year period and it all leads up to a kiss on the bricks after his ten year milestone. I loved reading the book and recommend it. Perhaps I will come up with my own journey that ends with a Long Kiss at the bricks but for now I will happily anticipate how and when that will happen.