Indiana dairy farmers and race car drivers were hanging out together Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The pairing is an annual tradition at the track known as the Fastest Rookie of the Year luncheon and this year’s was the 39th such event. The drivers met the 500 milkmen and they of course hope to meet again at the end of the race when the winner receives the traditional bottle of milk.
“That would be the ultimate dream,” said Conor Daly, a Noblesville native. “At 21 years old if I could do that I would be probably the happiest person on the planet.”
Daly is the son of former driver Derek Daly and he is racing for AJ Foyt Sunday, so he has known the Indianapolis tradition all of his life.
“This is the biggest race in the world without a doubt. I’ve been racing in Europe for 2 years and I’ve been to all the big races. I’ve been to Monaco and most of the big races and there is just nothing like this place. It’s just fantastic to be here.”
Daly starts from the back row but in the middle of row 2 is former Champ Car and NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger. Winning this race and being handed the milk is a real possibility and would be the highlight of his career.
“No doubt about it. As a race car driver to get handed a bottle of milk is kind of what you dream of and I’ve dreamed about drinking that milk. My parents will be here for the first time at Indy since Rick Mears won his first race in 1979, and being named after AJ Foyt it’s been my father’s lifelong dream to see me run this race. So I’ll probably take a huge swig of it and the next thing you know my dad will be the big guy jumping in the camera and stealing it and taking a drink for himself.”
Joining the rookie drivers is Tristan Vautier (left) from France and the fastest rookie of the 4, Carlos Munoz from Colombia. He was almost the fastest overall qualifier and starts from the middle of row 1. But Munoz doesn’t yet want to envision a victory circle celebration.
“I don’t like to anticipate stuff. I don’t want to put pressure on myself with everyone expecting me to win because I’m being so fast. I think I have to do my job the best I can do out there on the track to not make any mistakes and I’m sure the result will come from that.”
Milk Promotion Services of Indiana sponsors the rookie event and the $5,000 in prize money for Munoz in addition to a $10,000 check for the race winner.