Alan Wright, a dairy farmer from Muncie, will be the man with the milk in Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500 this year. Alan spent last year training as the Rookie Milk Man, but now it’s his turn to continue the tradition of the Bottle of Milk. Here’s what he has to say about the Indy 500.
So, you’re a dairy farmer, right?
Yep, I farm with my three brothers, my mom and dad. We have about 160 cows. We’ve been dairy farming on the same location since 1933, which coincidentally is the same year driver Louis Meyer first asked for a refreshing glass of buttermilk after winning his second Indianapolis 500. As a family, we’ve been milking cows for a little over 30,000 straight days. We milk twice a day and have had a family member working the milking shift for every milking except one, when a relative got married out of town. We woke up and milked in the morning before driving to the wedding, but our neighbors had to do the afternoon milking for us. We were back from the wedding in time for our 3:30 a.m. milking the next day, though.
What was your favorite part of your rookie year?
I loved the parade. It was crazy to see hundreds of thousands of people in the streets. I think it’s one of the largest parades in the country. It was just huge. And the sheer amount of people at the 500 is just crazy. I love to people-watch and the 500 has a lot more opportunities than downtown Cowan [the nearest town to the farm]. It’s more people I think then I’d ever even seen before, and so many of them are so passionate about the milk.
What are you looking forward to this year?
I love going early in the morning of race day and doing all the media interviews. We probably talk to seven or eight different channels. We were on Bob and Tom last year–it’s so cool to hear them say “and you’re on the Bob and Tom Show!”
What does the Drink of Milk tradition mean to you?
We milk cows all our lives, all my life, my dad’s life and all my grandfather’s life, so to be able to represent that family legacy and to represent all dairy farmers, I’m just so proud and humbled. My family has always listened to the race on the radio, but we couldn’t go since we had cows to milk. It’s just so exciting to have the winning driver drink milk. And not only does the winner of the 500 drink milk, but winners everywhere can drink milk. Kids and people of all ages need milk–it’s nature’s perfect food.