Marcus Ericsson

Two hours of sleep, a missing voice and a message from the King of Sweden. Those are just the highlights from Marcus Ericsson’s whirlwind 24 hours after becoming an Indianapolis 500 champion.

Ericsson crossed the iconic Yard of Bricks to win the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge just after 3:30 p.m. (ET) last Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Immediately, the spoils of victory set in.

He rose atop Victory Podium, took a long drink of whole milk and celebrated with his No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda team. Then, he did a lap in the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car around the famed 2.5-mile oval to greet the fans and met his team at the Yard of Bricks for the kissing of the bricks.

After that, the long hours really began to set in: A live interview on ESPN “SportsCenter,” five local Indianapolis TV station interviews, a 40-minute press conference in the DEX Imaging Media Center at IMS, a Firestone obligation and more motorsports media interviews.

After dinner with family and longtime sponsors, Swedish driver Ericsson said by the time he got back to his motorhome parked in the IMS infield early Monday morning, he couldn’t sleep. His girlfriend, Iris, woke up at 2 a.m. to Ericsson rewatching the race that just hours earlier changed his life forever.

Former Formula One driver Ericsson finally fell asleep around 3 a.m., but he was awake within two hours partially because he couldn’t sleep, and partially because his day-after obligations were about to begin.

“It’s just … it’s amazing,” Ericsson said. “I’m struggling to sort of take it all in and realize that it actually happened. I’m sort of struggling to believe it.

“It’s been pretty crazy since the checkered flag. It’s been super hectic. I couldn’t sleep. I went to bed, and I was just too excited to sleep. I’m exhausted, but I can’t relax.”

Overnight, Ericsson, from Kumla, Sweden, received a special congratulatory message from Carl XVI Gustaf, better known as the king of Sweden. A well-known racing fan and someone who has attended Formula One races with Ericsson before, the king sent a note to Ericsson’s manager offering his praise for winning “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“It’s amazing,” Ericsson said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to meet him a few times, and I know he’s a huge racing fan. But still, it’s very special. It’s the king of Sweden, so for me, that means so much to hear from him. I’m so happy and thankful.”

Ericsson’s hectic Monday began with an 8:15 a.m. radio interview, followed by a meet and greet with Jostens – the company that makes the coveted Indy 500 winner’s ring. From there, he had a photoshoot for BorgWarner so sculptor Will Behrends could begin preparing his likeness for the Borg-Warner Trophy, where Ericsson’s historic accomplishment will live forever.

After that, Ericsson moved on to a two-hour photo shoot with his race-winning car, the Borg-Warner Trophy, winner’s wreath and the entirety of Chip Ganassi Racing on the Yard of Bricks. Ericsson received a standing ovation when he arrived at the photo shoot, something that doesn’t happen often.

From there, sponsors, organizations, family, friends and more lined up next to Ericsson to commemorate his historic win. Team owner Chip Ganassi took it to the next level, ensuring that every Chip Ganassi Racing employee, even those from the four other cars he entered in the Indianapolis 500, got a picture with Ericsson to celebrate the organization’s first Indy 500 win in a decade.

The cameras hadn’t stopped clicking yet, and Ericsson requested a cup of tea. After 16 hours of cheering, screaming and “thank you’s,” Ericsson was losing his voice. He had four more hours of interviews to go, as well as the Indy 500 Victory Celebration that night in downtown Indianapolis.

Finally, the tea arrived, as did a quick bite for lunch before he moved on to interviews with IndyStar, Associated Press, The Race, NBC Sports, USA Today, a virtual meet and greet with INDYCAR Nation fan club members and more.

Through it all, or through what hasn’t blended together, Ericsson said his favorite moment from the 24 hours after winning the world’s largest single-day sporting event was one of the Indy 500 traditions unlike any other in sports.

“Kissing the bricks with the whole team, that was super cool,” he said. “It’s a bit strange to kiss the bricks, right? But it was really, really cool.”

The fun didn’t stop at the Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott, where Ericsson received the largest Indy 500 winner’s payout in history at $3.1 million. Immediately after the event ended, he boarded a private jet and headed to New York City to continue the victory celebration, landing around 2 a.m.

On his schedule Tuesday was ringing the opening bell for the NASDAQ, a visit to the Empire State Building and much, much more.