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  • ZISK

Winners Drink Milk

Karen Bohnert

May 27, 2021

Each Memorial Day weekend, a winning tradition unfolds in the midsection of the country. At the end of the biggest motorsports event in the world, all eyes will be on the winner's circle of the Indianapolis 500.

An extravagant event, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a packed weekend, but what happens at the very end is what really gains the most attention. The winning driver’s victory celebration with an ice-cold bottle of milk.

The rich tradition began in 1936, which includes the winning driver taking a sip or two of milk before pouring the entire bottle on themself.

It’s a tradition that an Indiana dairy farmer gets to help orchestrate at the 105th Indy 500. Dairy farmer Jill Houin of Homestead Dairy is looking forward to the Indy 500 winner grabbing the bottle of milk from her hand. "Dairy farmers work hard every single day to produce milk," she says.

Another Indiana dairy farmer, Tim Hayne of Superior Dairy located in Garrett, will also be at the Indy Speedway on Sunday. Hayne will learn exactly how the traditional events flow, preparing to be the point person next year to deliver milk to the winner circle. This year, he will give milk to the car owner and head mechanic. "The opportunity to send milk's message to a huge audience is unbelievable," Hayne says.

Driver Louis Meyer began the tradition in 1936. He would refresh himself on a hot day with buttermilk and drank some after winning the Indy 500. This years' drivers were asked what kind of milk they wanted, and 21 drivers requested whole milk, 12 asked for 2%, two requested buttermilk and one asked for chocolate milk. Both buttermilk and chocolate options were write-in commentary by the drivers and Houin reports that they are sticking with handing out white milk to the winner.

"Drivers want it, the fans want it, and dairy farmers are so darn proud to provide it," Hayne adds.

The Indiana dairy farmers feel honored to be representing U.S. dairy farmers at the Indianapolis Speedway on Sunday. Growing up in New Jersey, Houin married into a dairy farm family that milks 1,850 cows three times a day and has learned a lot about agriculture. "Dairy farmers are passionate," she says.

For Haynes, he sees the common thread between race car teams and dairy farms, stating both aim to do their best, care deeply about sustainability and are family focused.



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