Big Race - Indy

Milk in Victory Lane an iconic Indy 500 tradition

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -- Have you ever wondered why the winner drinks milk after the Indianapolis 500? 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian Donald Davidson says it all started in the 1930s, when cameras caught Louis Meyer drinking his daily buttermilk after winning the 500. 

"His mother told him it would refresh him on a hot day," Davidson said. 

Milk industry executives then started encouraging drivers to drink milk, according to Davidson. They offered the 1956 winner $300. 

Victory milk turned into an annual tradition--a tradition Emerson Fittipaldi broke in 1993. 

"When it came out that he wanted to drink orange juice instead of milk, the crowd just booed," Davidson said. "He had been one of the most popular drivers, but within a matter of seconds that all changed."

Historians say Fittipaldi eventually took a swig of milk and every winner since '93 drank the milk.

"That's everything I've always dreamed of," rookie driver Kyle Kaiser said. "Every year, you see the guy pouring the milk on their head, taking a big swig of it."

The American Dairy Association Indiana picks farmers every year to hang on to the milk and bring the bottle to the winning team. This year, the farmers are Kim Minich and Andrew Kuehnert. 

"Ever since they started picking dairy farmers to give the milk away, I was like, 'that would be such a cool thing to do,'" Kuehnert said. 

Each driver decides between whole milk, two-percent or fat-free. Kaiser already made up his mind. 

"I said, give me that whole milk," Kaiser said. "If I win the race, I want every bit of that milk."

IMS released a list Wednesday of all the drivers' milk preferences. No one picked orange juice. 

Ed Carpenter noted he'd like buttermilk, so he can stay true to the tradition Louis Meyer started. 

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