Originally Posted by Sorcerer001
1983 called. They'd like their Polish joke back.
Actually, 1988....in deference and homage to Alan Kulwicki..
A Polish, or Kulwicki victory lap entails the driver turning his car around and driving in the opposite direction, which is clockwise on NASCAR 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 Alan Kulwicki's celebration of his first career Winston Cup victory at the Checker 500 (Phoenix) on November 6, 1988. He celebrated his victory by driving a clockwise victory lap. A Ford 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, in celebration of his Winston Cup Championship at the 1992 Hooters 500.
The term was solidified after Kulwicki's death. Kulwicki died in a plane crash on Thursday, April 1, 1993, near Blountville, Tennessee. Hours after Kulwicki's death, Peter Jellen drove Kulwicki’s racecar hauler clockwise around Bristol Motor Speedway before leaving the track. Two days after Kulwicki's death, Bristol Busch Series race winner Michael Waltrip 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 followed Waltrip's lead, and proceeded to run a full Polish Victory Lap, both after that race, and after each victory for the rest of the 1993 season. 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 honored Kulwicki with a Polish victory lap. On November 14, 1993, after the Hooters 500 (Atlanta), the last race of that season, the race winner Wallace and 1993 series champion Dale Earnhardt ran a Polish Victory Lap together while carrying #7 and #28 flags commemorating Kulwicki and Davey Allison, respectively.
Mike Joy 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, Petty bar). The term "Polish victory lap" is considered by some as politically incorrect, 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 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 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. 2006 Milwaukee (Wisconsin) race winner Paul Menard (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"
After the Kobalt Tools 400, Tony Stewart did a polish victory lap, after finally winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, doing it around Las Vegas once.