INDIANAPOLIS – Five Indianapolis 500 first-year drivers will vie for the 42nd annual Fastest Rookie of the Year Award presented by American Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI) and its Hoosier dairy farm families.
ADAI has sponsored the Fastest Rookie award since its inception in 1975, making it one of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s longest running programs under the same sponsorship, second only to Borg-Warner.
The fastest qualifier from among this year’s rookie class will be guest of honor at the Fastest Rookie of the Year Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Plaza Pavilion. This by-invitation-only event is attended each year by more than 300, including representatives of the dairy industry from throughout Indiana and the US, a multitude of motorsports personalities, and a large contingent of local, national and international media.
Rookie drivers competing for the honor are:
Car #8 Max Chilton, Relgate, England
Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing
Car #6 Spencer Pigot, Orlando, FL
RLL/Mi-Jack/Manitowoc – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Car #25 Stefan Wilson, Sheffield, England
Driven2savelives – KV Racing Technology
Car #61 Matthew Brabham, Gold Coast, Australia
PIRTEK Team Murray
Car #98 Alexander Rossi, Nevada City, CA
Castrol Edge/Curb – Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian
Last year’s Fastest Rookie award recipient was Gabby Chaves, who captured top honors with a four-lap average speed of 222.916 mph. Other drivers to have their names on the Fastest Rookie of the Year trophy, on permanent display in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, include defending Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya, and Indy winners Rick Mears, Eddie Cheever Jr., Jacques Villeneuve, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Also among award recipients are Tony Stewart, Chip Ganassi, Michael Andretti, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz, Danica Patrick, JR Hildebrand, and Josef Newgarden.
The May 24 event begins with an 11 am reception, followed by lunch at 11:45. The program and presentation of awards begin at 12:30 pm. In addition to the inscription on the trophy, the winning rookie receives a newly redesigned plaque and $5000 cash award.
Event hosts include 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 will be on hand to welcome guests.
Veteran motorsports commentator Vince Welch will emcee the Fastest Rookie luncheon for the 18th consecutive year. Guests will enjoy video presentations that document the rookie drivers’ first Month of May at Indy and showcase the Hoosier dairy industry. Also planned is 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 extinction.
Both the Fastest Rookie trophy and the iconic Borg-Warner Trophy will be on display, courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
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 dinking 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 the American Dairy Association Indiana’s 2016 “Milk People” – Hoosier dairy farmers Janet Dague of Kewanna, and Joe Kelsay, Whiteland. Both Dague and Kelsay will attend the Fastest Rookie luncheon.
Additionally, 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, as well.