Often touted as one of the most recognized award in sports, the milk bottle presented to the winner of the Indy 500 has a history almost as old as the race itself. In the 1930s, Louis Meyer requested a bottle of buttermilk and was photographed drinking from the bottle.
Nearly 80 years later, the tradition of awarding milk is being kept alive by the American Dairy Association of Indiana and two lucky dairy producers.
The association selects a producer, usually a member of their board of directors, to serve a two-year term. In their first year, the "rookie milkman" is involved with the Fastest Rookie Luncheon prior to the race. The rookie milkman also presents milk to the owner and chief mechanic of the winning car. The "veteran milkman" presents the bottle to the winning driver.
Dave Forgey of Logansport, Indiana, served as the veteran, while Duane Hill of Fountain City, Indiana, was the rookie and will take Dave's place at the 2013 Indy 500.
Click here to learn more about Dave Forgey's operation.
In addition to the race itself, Forgey and Hill participated in the Indy 500 parade the day prior, where they rode on a float featuring a barn and the milk bottle.
Check out additional photos from the parade and race in the video below. Forgey, who wanted to educate producers in other states about Indiana dairy's involvement in the race, worked with the association and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to secure media passes for a few dairy magazines.
The media pass allowed me access to the garage area and track prior to the race. It was also interesting to learn how the process actually works. Forgey says each driver is asked ahead of time which milk they'd prefer: whole milk, 2 percent or skim. The milkmen carry around a list of those choices and are prepared with each kind of milk before entering the Winners Circle. Now three-time champion and 2012 Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti chose whole. PD
Progressive Dairyman magazine