INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis 500 first-year driver Gabby Chaves has been honored by American Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI) as recipient of its 41st annual Fastest Rookie of the Year Award.
The presentation took place today (Tuesday, 19 May 2015) during a luncheon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pagoda Plaza Pavilion. Over 300 by-invitation guests attended, including representatives of the Speedway and IndyCar Series, the dairy industry from throughout Indiana and the US, and members of local, national and international media.
Chaves, from Bogota, Colombia, secured the honor on Sunday, May 17 when he qualified for the race at a four-lap average speed of 222.916 in the No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Dallara/Honda for Bryan Herta Autosport. He received a $5000 cash award, plaque, commemorative poster, and his name has been added to the Fastest Rookie trophy on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
Chaves’ fellow rookie competitor, Stefano Coletti, missed top honors by the narrowest of margins – his four-lap average speed on Sunday was 222.001. The Monaco native, who drives the No. 4 KV Racing Technology Dallara/Chevrolet, also attended the luncheon.
Event hosts included members of the board of directors of American Dairy Association Indiana: president Donald Gurtner of Fremont, Indiana; vice president Alan Wright of Muncie, Indiana; treasurer Steve Phares, Albion, Indiana, and Haubstadt, Indiana’s Anita Schmitt, secretary. ADAI general manager Deb Osza of Lapel, Indiana and her staff also welcomed guests.
Among guests were Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and his wife, Winnie; Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Indiana Economic Development Corporation Agribusiness Development; 500 Festival Queen Ali Mathena of Whiteland, IN; Indiana Dairy Princess Kamille Brawner of Hanover, IN; three-time 500 champion Johnny Rutherford and his wife, Betty; IMS historian Donald Davidson, and Louis Meyer Jr, son of the race’s first three-time winner.
Veteran motorsports commentator Vince Welch emceed the Fastest Rookie luncheon for the 17th consecutive year. Guests enjoyed presentations that documented the rookie drivers’ first Month of May at Indy and showcased the Hoosier dairy industry. Also shown was a very special tribute to Anton “Tony” Hulman, the Terre Haute industrialist who purchased the Speedway in 1945 and saved it and the 500-Mile Race from oblivion.
The Fastest Rookie award is one of two programs that continues the long association between the Hoosier dairy industry and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Bottle of Milk presented to the winner of the 500-mile classic has been a traditional part of the Victory Circle ceremony for nearly 80 years – 60 of which have been consecutive.
The legendary Louis Meyer, the race’s first three-time winner (1928, ’33, ’36) is recognized as the driver who began the tradition by requesting a cold drink of buttermilk – his favorite beverage – following his victory in 1933. Three years later, Meyer was photographed drinking milk in Victory Lane. 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 Speedway owner Tony Hulman.
The bottles have become prized possessions of race winners, who also receive a $10,000 cash prize for enjoying that long, refreshing, nutritious post-race drink of milk. This year’s champion will be greeted in Victory Circle by American Dairy Association Indiana’s 2015 “Milk People” – Hoosier dairy farmers Alan Wright of Muncie and Janet Dague, Kewanna. Both Wright and Dague attended the Fastest Rookie luncheon.