Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In the Rearview Mirror: The history of the Brickyard 400

The final restart of the 2010 Brickyard 400 with winner Jamie McMurray up front.
Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR

The famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway had long been the exclusive host of the Indy 500, until the boys of NASCAR hit the bricks in 1994. The first year of the Brickyard 400 saw record attendance and became NASCAR's most-attended event, drawing an estimated crowd of more than 250,000 fans. The Brickyard also boasts the second highest prize purse in NASCAR, second only to the Daytona 500.

The inaugural Brickyard 400 started with Rick Mast on pole becoming the first stock car driver to lead a lap at Indy. After leading a total of 93 laps, Jeff Gordon claimed the historic first win at Indianapolis, in only his second year as a driver. 

The drivers who have mastered the Brickyard are a select few. Names like Gordon, Jarrett, Stewart and Johnson have all won multiple times at Indy.

Year      Winner
1994 Jeff Gordon
1995 Dale Earnhardt Sr.
1996 Dale Jarrett
1997 Ricky Rudd
1998 Jeff Gordon
1999 Dale Jarrett
2000 Bobby Labonte
2001 Jeff Gordon
2002 Bill Elliott
2003 Kevin Harvick
2004 Jeff Gordon
2005 Tony Stewart
2006 Jimmie Johnson
2007 Tony Stewart
2008 Jimmie Johnson
2009 Jimmie Johnson
2010 Jamie McMurray


Looking at the list of winners, it is clear that the skills of the Brickyard takes that of a NASCAR Champion. Every winner, with the exception of Ricky Rudd, Kevin Harvick, and Jamie McMurray, were winners of the Sprint Cup title at some point in their career.

Many fans are now familiar with the tradition of kissing the bricks, but did you know that this tradition wasn't part of the first Brickyard 400 winner celebrations? It started in 1996 with Dale Jarrett and Robert Yates. Yes, a NASCAR driver is now responsible for a tradition that IRL drivers also partake in. Jarrett became the first driver to win the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year.

I would be amiss to write about the Brickyard 400 and not mention the tire debacle of 2008, which is still a sore subject with many fans. After grinding down the track surface to increase grip, tire wear became a problem. Tires were blowing faster then anyone could keep count and as a result NASCAR was forced to throw multiple caution flags. In all, a total of 52 of the 160 lap race was completed under a yellow flag condition. Since then, Goodyear has worked to redeem themselves at the Brickyard and holds a yearly tire test. 


The winner of the Brickyard has been known to go on to win the Sprint Cup championship and I for one, look forward to see if that holds true this year as well.


NASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two weekly columns with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless. Amanda also strives to provide exclusive interviews for the readers of Skirts and Scuffs. To read her past columns and interviews click here.. Feel free to contact Amanda viaTwitter. 

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