You might have caught our blog about this year’s Indianapolis 500 Milk Woman, but what does it take to be the official Milk Person and hand the winning driver the famous Drink of Milk? Well, it takes a year of intense training to perfect the hand off. So this year’s Rookie Milk Man, Joe Kelsay, will give milk bottles to the winning team owner and chief mechanic. Joe farms with his family in Whiteland, Indiana. The Kelsays milk about 500 cows.
I caught up with Joe recently to ask him some questions about his role at the race this year.
What part of the race festivities are you most looking forward to?
Joe Kelsay: There are two times the race is most captivating: the anticipation that exists right from the beginning, from “start your engines” to the green flag, and then that final lap when the checkered flag comes out and we know who the winner is. Participating in the race activities from the beginning to the end will be incredible, but especially representing dairy farmers from all over in Victory Lane will be the best part.
Have you gotten any advice from Janet or past milk people?
JK: The best advice is to understand the significance that this part of the Indy 500 plays with the fans and the drivers. It is an important tradition that people really care about, even people that may not appear to be die-hard race fans. I have seen this to be true already as neighbors and friends have pulled me aside to say “don’t mess this up!”
What would the perfect race look like to you?
JK: I hope for a safe race with “Chamber of Commerce” weather–with some exciting lead changes along the way. May the best driver win!
What does it mean to your to represent all other dairy farmers on race day?
JK: I am humbled and honored. As there will be fellow dairy farmers who will be listening in on the race from the milk parlor or the mixer wagon or a tractor seat – working with their land and animals to provide one of nature’s most perfect foods – while I will be serving as their representative from Victory Lane at the motor speedway. It’s best to remember who is really the one to celebrate.
What’s your favorite dairy food?
JK: I have not met a dairy product that I don’t like, so to choose a favorite is impossible – I will mention that I am currently on a mission to find the world’s best Greek yogurt.
If you were an Indy 500 driver, what type of milk would you request? (Note: options are whole, two percent or skim.)
JK: Whole milk–for sure!