In 2006 WTHR is proud to join this tradition by broadcasting the Victory Banquet on Channel 13 and streaming it live on WTHR.com Monday, May 29 beginning at 7 p.m.
The Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet is a tradition for the Monday following the race. It has taken many forms at multiple locations since its inception in the late 1920s.
Before then some in the racing community would gather for dinner before leaving the Speedway.
But the first official Victory Banquet took place in the Athletic Club in downtown Indianapolis. It is currently held in the plaza area of the Speedway, and in between those locations it has filled the Murat Center, the Indianapolis Convention Center, the Indiana Roof Ballroom and Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus.
While at the Murat, dinner every year included an ice cream race car.
Some years the event has been public, filling large rooms in the Convention Center. Other times, as it currently is, it has been a private gathering.
In 1986 the banquet became a very small private affair at the Speedway Motel because rain delayed the finish of the race by one week and the Convention Center was no longer available.
In recent years the Victory Banquet has been broadcast on a local television station. But in 1991, with Jay Leno as the Master of Ceremonies, a legal conflict prevented WTTV from broadcasting the banquet. That station was forced to broadcast backstage interviews with drivers after they received their awards.
The banquet is of such importance that driver Donnie Allison once ran in an Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, flew to North Carolina for NASCAR's 600-mile Memorial Day race on Monday afternoon, now the Coca-Cola 600, then flew back to Indianapolis that evening for the victory banquet.