My phone greeted me with this notification, of all things, this morning, and while it told me that a local gas station was doing special deals on these tasty pastries, it gave me yet another idea.
Now, I’m not talking about glazed, cake-like nibbles that, if done right, melt in your mouth the way a perfectly cooked piece of steak does.
No, I’m talking about the other kind of doughnut–you know, the ones that your parents tell you not to do, but then they go out and do in their cars in the first empty parking lot they see–“a do as I say” situation, I suppose. Rebellious and rambunctious, those of us who enjoy the art of “doing doughnuts” may all be as twisted as this blog post anyway. But hey, who knew cranking the steering wheel into a locked position and going ’round and ’round could be so much fun anyway?
And all the maneuver takes is some damp, empty pavement. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be. Gravel roads work perfectly too! So do icy surfaces. (Note: this blog post does not condone reckless or dangerous driving; I’m just here to play historian for a bit and have fun while I’m doing it.)
The Basics: What does it mean to “do doughnuts”?
For those of you who might not know–in which case, I’m not sure why you’re reading a car blog, but welcome anyway!–“doing doughnuts,” otherwise known as “spinning sedys,” “making cookies,” or even, ahem, excuse my French, “whipping sh*tties,” involves “riding around in tight circles in a car.” The move often ends up with tread marks on the pavement, circular patterns resembling doughnuts. Sometimes, the action gets a little too wild, and the tires start smoking as a result from a little too much friction.
When did the doughnut become a tradition in racing?
There’s actually a bit of contention here. Some articles say that Dale Earnhardt made it popular, having cut up the turf into his signature number three after his first and only win at Daytona.
While that may be true, Earnhardt most likely only brought the tradition to NASCAR. The true innovator for “victory donuts,” as the move has come to be known in racing circuits, is most likely Alex Zanardi, who celebrated his victory in a CART race in the late 1990s. You can read more about his exploits as a driver here, but let’s discuss that pivotal day in his career back in ’97.
Zanardi, who came from Formula One, started out in the pole position each of his first two races in his second year in CART but finished out of the top three in both. In the third race, on a street course in Long Beach, Calif., Zanardi started second but passed Jimmy Vasser with 12 laps left and held on to win.
After the victory, he took his car to Turn 1 and whipped his car around in a donut.
“It was basically a fantastic way to start the season, and I was so happy,” Zanardi said in a recent interview, adding: “People made a big thing out of it, like, ‘Wow, yeah, he’s spinning donuts!’ So they encouraged me to do it again.
“It wasn’t long before fans would call me Mr. Donut, Donut King, and so on. People would start to show up with a case of doughnuts.”
“How the Donut Became Auto Racing’s Favorite Celebration” by Dave Caldwell
Since Zanardi started the tradition, the victory donut is now ubiquitous in all forms of racing. Some might prove more difficult than others, but it’s now a staple of any race. You nab the championship flag and head over, right in front of the grandstand, and you let all the fans whoop and holler as you, the victor, twirl around and around over and over again, tearing up the asphalt, wrecking the turf, and smoking those tires.
It sure is a sight to see, that’s for sure! While a victory doughnut probably isn’t in the works of a regular drive, we invite you to keep on cruisin‘, classic fans. (I guess you could call it a circular cruise. Kind of like messing with your passengers by going through a roundabout a few too many times, just without the roundabout, right?)
For more on all things automotive, join our mailing list and receive our monthly newsletter, plus any event highlights, special gift shop and admission promos, etc.