Indiana dairy farmers honored the rookie drivers for this year’s Indianapolis 500 this week during the 40th annual Fastest Rookie luncheon. One thing is clear from talking to the rookies. No matter what corner of the world they come from, even if it’s Moscow, they are well aware of the milk prize for the race winner.
“Of course everybody knows about this tradition, and I’ve seen a lot of pictures with Indy 500 winners with the milk,” says driver of the #7 car, Mikhail Aleshin, the first Indy starter from Russia. “If you don’t know what it is and why it’s happening, of course it looks a little strange, but when you get to know it a little bit better it kind of all makes sense. It’s a great tradition and I like traditions. The 500 has a lot of traditions.”
Car #41 driver Martin Plowman from England is driving for AJ Foyt Racing and knows all about the Indy 500.
“I grew up dreaming about racing here and I knew about the sport,” he told HAT. “I’m a student of the sport and I knew all about the history of why it’s important and it’s just a cool tradition that we’ve got to keep going.”
Plowman’s race and post-race strategies are simple. “I hope to be safe, I hope to have 4 wheels on the car, and I hope to have whole milk.”
Car #22 starting in the last row will be piloted by 19 year old Sage Karam from Nazareth, Pennsyslvania. He is last year’s Firestone Indy Lights Champion, has attended the 500 since he was 8, and would love to find himself one day in victory circle.
“That’s the dream right there, holding that milk up in the air and pouring it all over yourself. I can’t even imagine what that feeling is like until you actually get that feeling, so I’m going to do everything in my power to make that dream a reality. I can’t wait!”
James Davison from Australia drives #33 and for him the milk and all the traditions of Indianapolis have a special meaning.
“I remember in the mid 90’s when I was younger than 10 years old having the history of the Indianapolis 500 book on the coffee table in front of our television, and I think it was present up till 1995 at that point, and just looking through it and seeing the history and the amount of drivers and the evolution of the cars. It’s a big deal!”
Andretti Autosport’s car #26 driven by Kurt Busch was the fastest rookie car, but he was unable to attend the event Tuesday due to commitments promoting not only the 500, but the Coca Cola 600 Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Accepting the award for the NASCAR star was Mario Andretti.
Busch will be the fourth driver to start both the Indy 500 and the Sprint Cup event. His start in Indianapolis is from the outside of row 4.
#98 Jack Hawksworth from England starts from the inside of row 5 and #18 Carlos Huertas of Bogota, Colombia will start on the outside of row 7.