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INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis 500 first-year driver Alexander Rossi has been honored by American Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI) as recipient of its 42nd annual Fastest Rookie of the Year Award.
The presentation took place today (Tuesday, 24 May 2016) 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.

Rossi, from Nevada City, California, secured the honor on Sunday, May 22 when he qualified for the race at a four-lap average speed of 228.473 in the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts Dallara/Honda for Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian. 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 Museum.

Rossi’s fellow rookie competitors – Spencer Pigot, Max Chilton, Stefan Wilson and Matt Brabham – also attended the luncheon and were recognized for their achievements. 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 Joe Hogsett; 500 Festival Queen Caitlyn Foye of Newburgh, IN; Indiana Dairy Princess Kylei Klein of Connersville, IN; IMS historian Donald Davidson; Louis Meyer Jr, son of the race’s first three-time winner; retiring IMS Radio Network Chief Announcer Paul Page, and former Indianapolis 500 drivers Bill Vukovich and Geoff Brabham, Matt Brabham’s father.

Veteran motorsports commentator Vince Welch emceed the Fastest Rookie luncheon for the 18th consecutive year. Guests enjoyed presentations that documented the rookie drivers’ first Month of May at Indy and showcased the Hoosier dairy industry. 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 – 61 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 2016 “Milk People” – Hoosier dairy farmers Janet Dague of Kewanna and Whiteland’s Joe Kelsay. Both Dague and Kelsay attended the Fastest Rookie luncheon.

In celebration of the 100th running of the 500-Mile Race, 100,000 bottles of milk will be distributed to fans seated along the main straight on Race Day, enabling them to join in on the traditional post-race milk toast and raise their bottles with this year’s champion. Specially branded “100th running” bottles of milk also are available for purchase in area grocery and convenience stores so that fans at home can join in the end-of-race festivities, too.