Milk will be front and center for Indy 500

by | May 24, 2024 | 5 Ag Stories, News

Memorial Day weekend is steeped in many traditions. Many are reflective as we honor the fallen heroes of our armed services. Some are more entertaining, and one of those is the annual running of one of America’s premiere auto racing events, the Indianapolis 500.

Just like with many things on this holiday weekend, the Indy 500 has its own traditions, including one that dairy farmers across the country are proud of, and that is the winner of the race drinking milk. The tradition was started nearly ninety years ago, in 1936. Donald Davidson is the Historian Emeritus with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and he talks about the beginning of the tradition.

It took nearly twenty more years for the tradition to have some legs under it, as the dairy industry ponied up some money to the winners if they drank milk after they won the race.

Now the prize has grown much higher as the American Dairy Association in Indiana. The winner of the race gets $10,000 and the winning crew chief gets another $500.

The racers are asked to give their milk preference. They can choose between whole, two-percent, or fat-free milk. One of each bottle is chilled and ready for the end of the race.

Lately, there has been some push to have flavored milk be a part of the choices. So far, there hasn’t been an option of chocolate milk or any other flavors, but the 2021 winner, Helio Castroneves won his fourth race and added strawberry flavoring to his milk before drinking it down.

The Indy 500 will start this Sunday at 11:45 Central time.