The Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are steeped in tradition that means so much to drivers and fans alike. Although there has been plenty of tinkering with qualifications in recent years, the traditions fans love remain rock solid. One of those is the traditional bottle of milk for the winner of the race which dates back to 1933 and became a permanent fixture in 1956.
This year Ryan Hunter-Reay accepted the prize from Ken Hoeing, a Rush County dairy farmer and head milkman. It was the prize Hunter-Reay had been dreaming a lifetime about and first pursued in 2008 when he was named the 500 Rookie of the Year driving for another group of farmers in the Ethanol sponsored car.
Deb Osza at American Dairy Association, Indiana says the tradition is great publicity for the state’s dairy farmers.
“We take it very seriously to nurture the drink of milk tradition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so we’re so proud to have that opportunity to really shine a spotlight on drinking milk at an event like this huge greatest spectacle in racing where maybe some of the folks who are fans of racing wouldn’t think about milk. But we get a chance to talk about not only milk and its nutrition but the dairy farmers who produce it, and people learn we have 1,200 dairy farmers right here in the state of Indiana. A lot of people don’t know that.”
There is another important event for Indiana dairy in the month of May.
“One of the other biggest things we do is to provide chocolate milk at the end of the Mini Indy, which is one of the biggest half marathons in the country,” Osza told HAT. “We distribute over 10,000 pints of chocolate milk at that event which takes place a little bit earlier in the month but gets us in the mood to be delivering milk in victory circle on race day.”
Chocolate milk has been proven to be an excellent recovery drink and at a Purdue sports workout facility you will find chocolate milk for the athletes but no other famous sports drinks.
“And we’re finding that more and more colleges and universities are switching to chocolate milk,” she added, “discovering it as a fine refueling beverage after workouts. It’s great for the athletes and great for our dairy farmers.”