Every driver in the 2014 Indianapolis 500-mile race will want to make the acquaintance of two Hoosier dairy farmers on Sunday afternoon, May 25 and they’ll know exactly where to find them. Rushville’s Ken Hoeing and Muncie’s Alan Wright will be standing, cooler in hand, on some of Central Indiana’s most valuable real estate – Victory Circle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Hoeing, whose family milks around 400 cows on the 3000-acre Hoeing Dairy Farm near Rushville, is lead “Milkman” for one of Indianapolis’s most treasured traditions. He and “rookie Milkman” Wright will deliver the fabled Bottle of Milk to the winner of the 98th 500-mile race, courtesy of American Dairy Association Indiana, an organization representing Hoosier dairy farmers.
“Last year, I was the rookie and this year I have a rookie under me,” Hoeing stated. “It is such a great honor and it really is a big deal to me. Every year it’s a new guy that gets to do this and they are always from Indiana. The American Dairy Association is a nationwide deal and this is something they have done for a very long time. I found out two years ago I was doing this. This year though, I will be the one to present the milk to the driver. We get to ride in the parade with over 3,000 people, I didn’t realize that many people could fit on the streets of Indy,” he laughed. “It’s such an honor to carry on this tradition. My family thinks it’s a big deal and so do I.”
Indy 500 Victory Circle Bottle of Milk Tradition: The legendary Louis Meyer, Indy’s first three-time winner (1928, ‘33, ‘36) is acknowledged as the driver who launched the Bottle of Milk Tradition when he asked for a glass of his favorite beverage – buttermilk – to quench his thirst after a grueling 500 miles in 1933. Three years later, Meyer was photographed in Victory Lane drinking milk. Milk was presented off and on during the next several years until, in 1956, the Bottle of Milk was made a permanent part of the post-race celebration by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Anton “Tony” Hulman.