Driving a race car is a dangerous activity, which is why celebrations in victory lane should be enjoyable and not the stuff of your worst nightmares. Right? No, not right. There are race tracks out there that make winning drivers pose for photos with live bears, rattlesnakes and other dangerous animals—oh my!
The lovable pet above presented the trophy on opening night of the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series’ Grizzly Nationals weekend at Gallatin Speedway in Montana, hopping all of his 900 pounds up onto winner Blake Hahn’s tire for a few photos. Hahn led every lap of the race, perhaps forgetting that he’d have to pose with a huge bear if he led the last one. Here’s a video of the whole thing:
For posing with an open-mouthed bear beside him, Hahn actually looks pretty calm and collected. The bear, Adam, even starts playing with the trophy. It’s all pretty cute until you remember that he is, in fact, a huge bear.
Posing with a big grizzly isn’t the only strange victory celebration in the world of American short-track racing—for one, organizers of the annual Rattler 250 Super Late Model race in Alabama make winning drivers cozy up with a huge rattlesnake for photos. No, thanks.
Sure, these presumably well-trained animals have handlers and people keeping them from mauling, biting or hurting others, but even the average house cat gets feisty every once in a while (translated: at least five times per day).
As is the case with a majority of athletes, the typical driver puts winning above most anything else—NASCAR driver Tony Stewart would even wreck his mom for a championship, he says. But when scary animals await the victor, maybe settling for second place isn’t so bad.