A “victory lap” is an extra lap around the track taken by the winner of a race, performed in front of the fans. “The officials finally declared Flemke the winner and he took the checkered flag on the victory lap ride” was cited in print in 1948 and referred to auto racing. Winners in track events also have taken victory laps.
“Victory laps” can also occur outside of sports. A politician who wins an election can take symbolic “victory laps” in visits to supporters or to the media. A company that launches a successful product can also take symbolic “victory laps.”
A slang use of “victory lap” describes person who takes an extra year of schooling (such as five years instead of four to complete college).
Wikipedia: Victory lap
A victory lap (also lap of honor) is a term used in motorsports to describe an extra lap of the race track after the conclusion of a race. 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 in a gesture known as the FIA salute 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.
15 June 1948, Bridgeport (CT) Telegram,"Tappett Cops Feature Auto Race After Rice WIthdraws” by Jerry Litner, pg. 17, col. 1:
The officials finally declared Flemke the winner and he took the checkered flag on the victory lap ride.
31 May 1952, San Diego (CA) Union, “Troy Makes Good In Happy Style,” pg. B-3, col. 8:
INDIANAPOLIS, May 30 (INS)—(...) But his wife, pretty 22-year-old Beverly Ruttman, was across the track and unable to join her husband for a full 20 minutes after his last victory lap.
30 August 1953, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “No Shackles on Auto Racers Here” by Bill Turner, pg. 10-C, col. 5:
When you go to Sportsman Park or Lorain County Speedway or any other speedway in Northern Ohio, you can be assured that the car that carries the checkered flag on the victory lap is deserving of that honor.
30 June 1957, Springfield (MA) Sunday Republican, Roto Section, pg. 5, col. 1 photo caption:
Bob Holbrook takes the checkered flag from “Doc” Knight for his victory lap around the track after winning the Class F race and achieving the second fastest time of the day. Bob’s car is a Porsche—RS.
Google News Archive
9 March 1959, Miami (FL) News, “Lucky Day For Driver—Yes, No,” pg. 2B, col. 4:
BOCA RATON, March 9—(...) Casner, who won the race with ridiculous ease, had just finished his victory lap over the 3.5 mile course and was pulling into the pits, when a red Triumph TR-3 flipped at the end of the stretch straightaway, killing 26-year-old 1st Lt. Don Tann of West Palm beach Air Force Base and Detroit.
17 February 1962, New York (NY) Times, “Beatty Wins 4:00.9 Mile Here” by Joseph M. Sheehan, pg. 12:
His gallant effort so captivated the gallery that he shared the cheers, almost in equal volume, with Beatty as they jogged around the track on the ceremonial “victory” lap.
September 1964, American Motorcycling, “Larry Schafer Wins Lightweight Road Race Championship,” pg. 27 photo caption:
Larry Schafer sports a big smile on his victory lap after winning the first 250cc championship.
August 1972, Ebony, pg. 178, col. 2:
He broke the tape in triumph and, rather than take the victory lap of European tradition, he trotted over to a cluster of congratulating teammates and gleefully applied a “soul slap” to their outstretched palms.
OCLC WorldCat record
Clinton’s Washington victory lap
Publication: TIME -NEW YORK- 140, no. 22, (1992): 44
Database: British Library Serials
OCLC WorldCat record
One more victory lap : my personal diary of an Olympic year
Author: Carl Lewis; Jeffrey Marx
Publisher: Santa Monica, CA : Athletics International, ©1996.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English
OCLC WorldCat record
Victory Lap - Grete Waitz sets world record at 1978 New York City Marathon
Publisher: Emmaus, PA : Rodale Press, c1987-
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Runner’s world. (December 1998): 40
Let Me Start: Victory Lap!
8:41 AM on 02/21/2013
President Obama’s job approval rating is at a three-year high, according to a new Bloomberg Poll. You’d have to go back to 2009 to find a higher approval number for the president. Meanwhile the Republican Party’s approval ratings are tanking.
Washington (DC) Examiner
White House victory lap: ‘Mitt Romney didn’t win Ohio’
March 4, 2013 | 1:06 pm
By Joel Gehrke
After dismissing Mitt Romney, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney used President Obama’s victory as material for a comeback to The Washington Post’s George Will’s criticism of him.