Indiana dairy farmer Paul Mills didn’t take the reins from Jim Nabors, but he would have been a perfect fit. Mills does sing the Indiana anthem at the start of the annual Fastest Rookie lunch the Tuesday before each Indianapolis 500, an event sponsored by Indiana dairy. And of course there is the “coolest prize” in sports, the bottle of milk presented to the race winner. It’s part of a great partnership and significant investment for American Dairy Association, Indiana. General manager Deb Osza says the return on investment for dairy farmers is unique and substantial.
“We have this amazing international platform that allows us to tell our dairy farming story and our great nutrition story about milk and milk products.”
For Osza it’s hard to imagine a dairy organization in another state getting similar bang for the buck.
“It’s such a wonderful opportunity that we have,” she told HAT. “Every year I marvel again at how fantastic it is that we have this opportunity as a dairy promotion organization to be able to nurture the drink of milk tradition and to understand how cherished that tradition is by so many race fans the world over.”
A woman was in victory circle this year, handing milk to the winning car owner, Roger Penske, and race winner Juan Pablo Montoya’s chief mechanic. It is not the first time a female has handled the prized milk bottle at the Indy 500.
“Our rookie is Janet Dague and she is not the first. We’ve had Anita Schmitt and Sam Schwoeppe before her. Women do serve on the board of the American Dairy Association of Indiana and she will be the person to give the milk in victory circle at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, so that’s huge!”
Milkman Alan Wright presented the bottle of milk, courtesy of American Dairy Association, Indiana, to Montoya at the end of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.
(Montoya photo from www.indycar.com)