INDIANAPOLIS – Every driver in the 2016 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race will want to make the acquaintance of two Hoosier dairy farmers on Sunday afternoon, May 29.
And they’ll know exactly where to find them. Janet Dague and Joe Kelsay will be standing, customized cooler in hand, on some of Central Indiana’s most valuable real estate – Victory Circle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Dague, a third-generation dairy farmer whose family milks 170 cows and grows corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay on 1200 acres in Kewanna, and Kelsay, a sixth-generation dairy farmer whose family still works the Whiteland farm originally land-granted in 1837 by President Martin Van Buren, are assuming responsibility for continuing one of Indianapolis’ most treasured traditions. The “Milk People” will deliver the fabled Bottle of Milk to the winner of the 100th 500-Mile Race, courtesy of American Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI). Both Dague and Kelsay are ADAI board members.
“We are honored to be selected by our peers to continue the tradition that means so much to those of us involved in the dairy industry here in Indiana, as well as throughout the US,” Dague said. “We appreciate the support of this tradition by the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway and the Hulman-George Family, and recognize the important place it holds in the hearts of everyone who loves the Indianapolis 500.
“Nearly everyone, anywhere in the world, thinks of the 500-Mile Race when they hear ‘Indianapolis,’” she added, “and most also are aware of how every winner toasts victory at this great track. Joe and I take the responsibility of representing this tradition very seriously, and look forward to the great opportunity of carrying it forward at the historic 100th running of the 500.”
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.
2016 marks the 61st consecutive year for the beloved tradition – one that Janet Dague and Joe Kelsay intend to continue on May 29.