One hundred races at a race track steeped in traditions. The Brickyard, the yard of bricks, Foyt, Unser, Rutherford, Mears, Castroneves, Penske, the 2.5-mile oval, and yes, the winner’s bottle of milk are among the history makers and fabric of the Indianapolis 500. Sunday May 29th will be the 100th race and Indiana dairy farmers Janet Dague and Joe Kelsay are prepared to deliver the sporting world’s coolest prize after keeping it cold and secure all race long.
“It is in a cooler kept nice and ice cold, but it has its own security in the suites,” Dague told HAT. She farms near the Cass-Fulton County line in Kewanna and she is the head milk person this year after handing bottles of milk to the winner’s car owner and chief mechanic as the rookie last year.
Kelsay joins Dague as a board member of American Dairy Association, Indiana Inc. He is from Whiteland in Johnson County and is the rookie this year.
“This being the 100th running, what a special event, an iconic race and iconic event and we’re a special part of it. It will be much different and was certainly part of my bucket list. What’s really cool as dairy farmers is that we get to represent the hard work that happens every day to make nature’s most perfect food, that milk that we get every day from the hard working dairy farmers out there.”
Dague, a race fan and third-generation dairy farmer whose family milks 170 cows and grows corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay is proud of dairy farmers’ platform at the 500.
“We are so very proud that the Greatest Spectacle in Racing has taken the tradition of the drink of milk as seriously as they do, and as an Indiana dairy farmer it makes us very proud that all of our hard work goes into making that milk and the tradition and pageantry that goes into that bottle of milk and how it is celebrated at the Indianapolis 500.”
She has thoroughly enjoyed the experience the last 2 races, but she has this fear of dropping the milk bottle.
“I am terrified because I’m small that I am going to get bumped as I’m handing it to the driver and I’m going to drop and break his bottle.”
The legendary Louis Meyer, Indy’s first three-time winner (1928, ’33, ’36) is acknowledged as the driver who launched the Bottle of Milk Tradition when he asked for a glass of his favorite beverage, buttermilk, to quench his thirst after a grueling 500 miles in 1933. Three years later, Meyer was photographed in Victory Lane drinking milk. Milk was presented off and on during the next several years until, in 1956, the Bottle of Milk was made a permanent part of the post-race celebration by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Anton “Tony” Hulman.
Hear more from the Indy milk persons:Janet and Joe Indy Milk Persons