Motor

Why is milk the drink of Indy champions?

Got Milk?
Milk has been a staple in Indianapolis Victory Lane for over six decades.
Share This Story

Rea White

Rea White has been covering NASCAR full time since 1998. She has won awards from press agencies in Alabama and North Carolina and formerly served as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Follow her on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

It is one of the most famous sights in all of motorsports, the victor’s drinking of the milk after the Indianapolis 500. It’s been honored, discussed, protested — and memorialized in cheese. What more could a tradition offer?

It started with ...

Take a look at the origins of some of the greatest sports traditions, ever.

The open-wheel drivers lust after this swig of milk. It is the stuff of both legend and lore. And once, according to published reports, even of a protest by People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals.

But just how did this tradition get started?

According to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, three-time winner Louis Meyer “regularly drank buttermilk to refresh himself on a hot day.” Turns out, one such day was the 1936 race, which he won and then drank milk in Victory Lane.

An executive with the Milk Foundation saw the photo in the sports section and worked to make sure it was repeated. Obviously, it was, except for a period from 1947-55 when milk was not offered.

The practice remains in vogue to this day, with images of the race winner slugging the product annually.

Drinking milk in Victory Lane has led to some interesting stories, though.

In 2001, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that PETA, citing cruelty to cows, asked then-speedway President Tony George to drop the tradition.

"Please consider dropping this outdated practice, or change the Indy 500 beverage to something humane and healthful, like orange juice or soy milk," wrote Andrew Butler, PETA Vegan Campaign coordinator, according to the story.

In 2005, Sports Illustrated named the bottle of milk given to the winner as No. 1 among the “sports world’s coolest prizes.”

In 2007, race fans at the Indianapolis State Fair were given a special treat. According to a story on the track’s website, a sculpture made from cheese — to commemorate the American Dairy Association of Indiana’s involvement with the Indianapolis 500 — honored the tradition.

The “Winners Drink Milk” sculpture was carved from cheese in front of fair attendees. It showed the race winner drinking milk beside his car — and included milk dripping from the lips of the victor. It took 67 hours to complete.

And finally, it has even been a topic on David Letterman’s show. The host, who is part owner of an IndyCar Series team, brought race winner Scott Dixon onto the show in 2008.

SPEEDTV.com Looking for more IndyCar Series racing news? Check out SPEED.com.

According to reports, Letterman posed the obvious question:

"After 500 miles, is milk what you really want to drink?"

And Dixon offered his take on the tradition — that it is simply the fact that one has the chance to do it that matter.

"That milk could have been a glass of mud for all I care at that point. It was the best moment," he said.

More Stories From Rea White

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Motor Videos

NASCAR Race Hub: McReynolds Take on Dover Posted: Oct 01, 2013
Larry McReynolds gives you his take on what went down in Dover the 4th race in T...

NASCAR Race Hub: Weekend Winner Jimmie Johsnon - Dover 2013 Posted: Oct 01, 2013
Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief Chad Knaus sit down and talk about Dover and t...

NASCAR probing No. 22 Team, Logano for possible violation Posted: Sep 11, 2013
Listen in on the radio communication between the 22 of Joey Loagano and the 38 o...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Mitchell & Ness Boston Celtics #33 Larry Bird Green Authentic Throwback Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Boston_Celtics/browse/featuredproduct/118804/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_118000/FF_118804_xl.jpg&w=100 249.95 Mitchell & Ness Boston Celtics #33 Larry Bird Green Authentic Throwback Jersey
    adidas Los Angeles Lakers Purple Primary Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Los_Angeles_Lakers/browse/featuredproduct/172442/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_172000/FF_172442_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 adidas Los Angeles Lakers Purple Primary Logo T-shirt
    adidas Miami Heat Black Primary Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Heat/browse/featuredproduct/173566/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_173000/FF_173566_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 adidas Miami Heat Black Primary Logo T-shirt
    adidas Chicago Bulls Red Primary Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Bulls/browse/featuredproduct/173568/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_173000/FF_173568_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 adidas Chicago Bulls Red Primary Logo T-shirt
    adidas Boston Celtics #33 Larry Bird White Hardwood Classics Swingman Basketball Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Boston_Celtics/browse/featuredproduct/177922/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_177000/FF_177922_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Boston Celtics #33 Larry Bird White Hardwood Classics Swingman Basketball..
    adidas Atlanta Hawks #21 Dominique Wilkins Red Hardwood Classics Swingman Basketball Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Atlanta_Hawks/browse/featuredproduct/177923/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_177000/FF_177923_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Atlanta Hawks #21 Dominique Wilkins Red Hardwood Classics Swingman Basket..
    adidas Los Angeles Lakers #32 Magic Johnson Hardwood Classics Swingman Basketball Jersey - Gold http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Los_Angeles_Lakers/browse/featuredproduct/177924/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_177000/FF_177924_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Los Angeles Lakers #32 Magic Johnson Hardwood Classics Swingman Basketbal..
    adidas New York Knicks #19 Willis Reed Royal Blue Hardwood Classics Swingman Basketball Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Knicks/browse/featuredproduct/178326/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_178000/FF_178326_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas New York Knicks #19 Willis Reed Royal Blue Hardwood Classics Swingman Bas..
    adidas Philadelphia 76ers #6 Julius Erving Royal Blue Hardwood Classics Swingman Basketball Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Philadelphia_76ers/browse/featuredproduct/178582/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_178000/FF_178582_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Philadelphia 76ers #6 Julius Erving Royal Blue Hardwood Classics Swingman..
    adidas Houston Rockets #34 Hakeem Olajuwon Red Hardwood Classics Swingman Basketball Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Houston_Rockets/browse/featuredproduct/178773/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_178000/FF_178773_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Houston Rockets #34 Hakeem Olajuwon Red Hardwood Classics Swingman Basket..