Victory lap
A victory lap is a term used in motorsports to describe an extra lap
A lap is a surface created between the knee and hips of a bipedal being when it is in a seated or lying down position.-Consumer products for laps:...

 of the race track
Race track
A race track is a purpose-built facility for racing of animals , automobiles, motorcycles or athletes. A race track may also feature grandstands or concourses. Some motorsport tracks are called speedways.A racetrack is a permanent facility or building...

 after the conclusion of a race
A sport race is a competition of speed, against an objective criterion, usually a clock or to a specific point. The competitors in a race try to complete a given task in the shortest amount of time...

. This lap, driven at reduced speed, allows the winning driver to celebrate his or her victory and gives the spectators an opportunity to congratulate and honor the competitors. Commonly, trackside flag marshals will wave their flags
Racing flags
Racing flags are traditionally used in auto racing and similar motorsports to indicate track condition and to communicate important messages to drivers. Typically, the starter, sometimes the grand marshal of a race, waves the flags atop a flag stand near the start/finish line...

 in a gesture known as the FIA
Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile is a non-profit association established as the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus on 20 June 1904 to represent the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users...

or the Monkey Dance in the US. It is not uncommon for marshals to clap or wave their hands at drivers as a gesture and sometimes the drivers wave back in response.

Victory laps can sometime become dangerous for the winner and the other drivers, since in many tracks the safety nets can be easily climbed over by the crowd, which then becomes an obstacle for the racers.

Victory laps have regularly seen drivers who have retired in the final stages of a race being given a lift back to the pits on one of their competitors' cars. Some notable examples in Formula One
Formula One
Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile . The "formula" designation in the name refers to a set of rules with which...

 include Riccardo Patrese
Riccardo Patrese
Riccardo Gabriele Patrese is an Italian former racing driver, who raced in Formula One from to .He became the first Formula One driver to achieve 200 Grand Prix starts when he appeared at the 1990 British Grand Prix, and the first to achieve 250 starts at the 1993 German Grand Prix...

 and Didier Pironi
Didier Pironi
Didier Joseph Louis Pironi was a racing driver from France. During his career he competed in 72 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, driving for Tyrrell , Ligier and Ferrari...

 at the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix
1982 Monaco Grand Prix
The 1982 Monaco Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Monaco on May 23, 1982.This was the first race following the death of Gilles Villeneuve at the Belgian Grand Prix; consequently Ferrari entered only one driver, Didier Pironi....

, Nigel Mansell
Nigel Mansell
Nigel Ernest James Mansell OBE is a British racing driver who won both the Formula One World Championship and the CART Indy Car World Series...

 and Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna da Silva was a Brazilian racing driver. A three-time Formula One world champion, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time...

 at the 1991 British Grand Prix
1991 British Grand Prix
The 1991 British Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Silverstone on 14 July 1991. It was the eighth round of the 1991 Formula One season.-Report:...

 (pictured), Jean Alesi
Jean Alesi
Jean Alesi is a French racing driver of Italian origin. His Formula One career included spells at Tyrrell, Benetton, Sauber, Prost, Jordan and most notably Ferrari where he proved very popular among the tifosi...

 and Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher is a German Formula One racing driver for the Mercedes GP team. Famous for his eleven-year spell with Ferrari, Schumacher is a seven-time World Champion and is widely regarded as the greatest F1 driver of all time...

 at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix
1995 Canadian Grand Prix
The 1995 Canadian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on June 11, 1995 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal. It was the sixth race of the 1995 Formula One season....

 and Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella
Giancarlo Fisichella
Giancarlo Fisichella , also known as Fisico, Giano or Fisi, is an Italian racing driver. He has driven in Formula One for Minardi, Jordan, Benetton, Sauber, Renault, Force India and Ferrari. Nowadays, he drives for AF Corse's GT2 Ferrari in various sportscar events...

 at the 1997 German Grand Prix
1997 German Grand Prix
The 1997 German Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Hockenheimring on July 27, 1997. It was won by Austrian driver Gerhard Berger in a Benetton. This race proved to be his final victory and final pole position, as he retired at the end of the season. Berger had missed the previous 3...


Recently the FIA
Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile is a non-profit association established as the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus on 20 June 1904 to represent the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users...

, motor sport's world governing body, have restricted what a Formula One driver may do on his victory lap. The sporting regulations state that at the end of a race, "all cars must proceed on the circuit directly to the post race parc fermé without stopping, without overtaking (unless clearly necessary), without receiving any object whatsoever and without any assistance (except that of the marshals if necessary)."

Polish Victory Lap

A Polish, or Kulwicki victory lap entails the driver turning his car around and driving in the opposite direction, which is clockwise on NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...

 ovals. It has been used in road courses.

This style of victory lap is common in local short track or dirt track races, where the victorious driver takes the checkered flag from the flag stand, and then proceeds to drive with the driver's side of the car facing the fans for their victory lap.

The term was first coined as a result of Polish American
Polish American
A Polish American , is a citizen of the United States of Polish descent. There are an estimated 10 million Polish Americans, representing about 3.2% of the population of the United States...

 Alan Kulwicki
Alan Kulwicki
Alan Dennis Kulwicki , nicknamed "Special K" and the "Polish Prince", was an American NASCAR Winston Cup Series racecar driver. He started racing at local short tracks in Wisconsin before moving up to regional stock car touring series...

's celebration of his first career Winston Cup victory at the Checker 500
Checker Auto Parts 500
The Kobalt Tools 500 is a NASCAR Sprint Cup stock car race held at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. The race is sponsored by Lowe's through its Kobalt Tools brand.-Past winners:*1998: Race shortened due to rain....

Phoenix International Raceway
Phoenix International Raceway, also known as PIR, is a one-mile, low-banked tri-oval race track located in Avondale, Arizona. The track opened in 1964 and currently hosts two NASCAR race weekends annually. PIR has also hosted the Indycar Series, CART, USAC and the Rolex Sports Car Series...

) on November 6, 1988. He celebrated his victory by driving a clockwise victory lap. A Ford
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

 engineer slapped him on the back and asked if that was a "Polish" victory lap. Kulwicki's only other Polish Victory lap came in 1992
1992 in NASCAR
The 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season began on February 9, 1992 and ended on November 15, 1992. Independent owner/driver Alan Kulwicki of AK Racing won the Winston Cup championship in the closest championship battle in NASCAR history to-date....

, in celebration of his Winston Cup Championship at the 1992 Hooters 500
1992 Hooters 500
The 1992 Hooters 500 was the final race of the 1992 NASCAR season. The race is considered one of the greatest NASCAR races of all-time. It was held November 15, 1992 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and was televised live on ESPN...


The term was solidified after Kulwicki's death. Kulwicki died in a plane crash on Thursday, April 1, 1993, near Blountville, Tennessee
Blountville, Tennessee
Blountville is an unincorporated town and census-designated place in Sullivan County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 3,074 at the 2010 census...

. Hours after Kulwicki's death, Peter Jellen drove Kulwicki’s racecar hauler clockwise around Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway, formerly known as Bristol International Raceway and Bristol Raceway is a NASCAR short track venue located in Bristol, Tennessee. Constructed in 1960, it held its first NASCAR race on July 30, 1961...

 before leaving the track. Two days after Kulwicki's death, Bristol
Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway, formerly known as Bristol International Raceway and Bristol Raceway is a NASCAR short track venue located in Bristol, Tennessee. Constructed in 1960, it held its first NASCAR race on July 30, 1961...

 Busch Series race winner Michael Waltrip
Michael Waltrip
Michael Curtis Waltrip is a semi-former professional race car driver, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, and a published author. He is the younger brother of three-time NASCAR champion and racing commentator Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500; having won the race in...

 honored his old short track foe by turning Kulwicki's trademark reverse Polish Victory Lap, but only half a lap, stating that he didn't want to do Kulwicki's entire routine. The next day, Winston Cup winner Rusty Wallace
Rusty Wallace
Russell William Wallace, Jr. is a past NASCAR Winston Cup Champion, currently a broadcaster on ESPN, car owner in the Nationwide Series, and a co-host of NASCAR Angels.-Early racing career:...

 followed Waltrip's lead , and proceeded to run a full Polish Victory Lap, both after that race, and after each victory for most of his career. Tom Roberts, Wallace's and sponsor Miller Brewing's publicist, was also Kulwicki's publicist. In addition, most winners for the remainder of the 1993 season
1993 in NASCAR
The 1993 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season began on February 7 and ended on November 14. Dale Earnhardt of Richard Childress Racing won the title, the sixth of his career....

 honored Kulwicki with a Polish victory lap. On November 14, 1993, after the Hooters 500 (Atlanta
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway is a track just outside Hampton, Georgia, twenty miles south of Atlanta. It is a quad-oval track with a seating capacity of over 125,000. It opened in 1960 as a standard oval. In 1994, 46 condominiums were built over the northeastern side of the track...

), the last race of that season, the race winner Wallace and 1993 series champion Dale Earnhardt
Dale Earnhardt
Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was an American race car driver, best known for his involvement in stock car racing for NASCAR...

 ran a Polish Victory Lap together while carrying #7 and #28 flags commemorating Kulwicki and Davey Allison
Davey Allison
David Carl "Davey" Allison was a NASCAR driver. He was best known for driving the #28 Texaco-Havoline Ford for Robert Yates Racing in the Winston Cup Series. Born in Hollywood, Florida, he was the eldest of four children born to Bobby Allison and wife Judy...

, respectively.

Mike Joy
Mike Joy
Mike Joy is an American TV sports announcer, who currently serves as the lap-by-lap voice of FOX Sports' NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage. His color analysts are Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. Joy has broadcast more than 30 Daytona 500s, NASCAR's biggest event...

 frequently refers to this as an Alan Kulwicki Victory Lap in memory of the driver, and noted the spectators see the driver, who usually waves and sometimes has his helmet off, as he salutes the fans. Joy's term is reminiscent of other cases where a term is named for the person who developed the idea (i. e., Gurney flap
Gurney flap
The Gurney Flap is a small flat tab projecting from the trailing edge of a wing. Typically it is set at a right angle to the pressure side surface of the airfoil,and projects 1% to 2% of the wing chord....

, Petty bar). In addition, the term "Polish victory lap" can be considered by some as politically incorrect
Political correctness
Political correctness is a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts,...

, and referring to Polish jokes.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr did a Polish victory lap after winning the 2001 Cal Ripken Jr 400 at Dover International Speedway in the first NASCAR Winston Cup Race following the September 11 attacks while holding a large American flag out the driver's side window.

Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch
Kurt Thomas Busch is an American NASCAR and NHRA driver. He drives the No. 22 Shell Oil Company/Pennzoil Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and will race on an "opportunity permitting" basis in the Pro Stock division of NHRA...

 celebrated his 2005 win at Phoenix with a Polish victory lap. Busch watched his first NASCAR races at the track, and wanted to honor Kulwicki. Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch
Kyle Thomas Busch, is an American NASCAR driver and team owner. He currently drives the No. 18 Mars/Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Sprint Cup Series, the No. 18 Z-Line Designs/NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs in the Nationwide Series, and the No...

 also did a Polish Victory Lap after his 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Bristol.

Many local racetrack winners and series champions have saluted Kulwicki or his underdog spirit with a Polish victory lap, especially in his home state of Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

. 2006 Milwaukee
Milwaukee Mile
The Milwaukee Mile is a -long oval race track in West Allis, Wisconsin that seats about 40,000 spectators. It operated as a dirt track until 1953. The track was paved in 1954....

 (Wisconsin) race winner Paul Menard
Paul Menard
Paul Menard is a NASCAR driver. He currently drives the #27 Menards Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series for Richard Childress Racing and runs part-time for Kevin Harvick Inc. in the Nationwide Series. He is the son of Menards founder John Menard, Jr., whose company is his sponsor...

(a Wisconsinite) celebrated his first Busch Series win with a Polish Victory lap.

Kurt Busch, with his win at Atlanta in Sprint Cup, 2009, ended up putting the car in reverse and driving it around the track backwards. His brother Kyle also used this after his win in Bristol. The practice was later dubbed, "The Unwind Lap"
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