INDIANAPOLIS – Valencia, California’s Colton Herta, who qualified for his first
Indianapolis 500 this past weekend, was honored today (Tues, May 21) by American
Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI) as recipient of the 45th annual Fastest Rookie of the
Herta, driving the #88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, posted a
four-lap average speed of 229.086 mph, good for a starting spot in the middle of Row 2.
He was guest of honor at today’s luncheon held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s
Pagoda Plaza Pavilion. The by-invitation event was attended by nearly 300
representatives of the dairy industry from throughout Indiana and the US, numerous
motorsports personalities and a large contingent of local, national and international
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.
Five other rookie drivers in this year’s field also attended: Marcus Ericsson, Felix
Rosenqvist, Santino Ferrucci, Jordan King and Ben Hanley.
Event hosts included members of the board of directors of American Dairy Association
Indiana: president Steve Phares of Albion, Indiana; vice president Janet Dague of
Kewanna, Indiana; treasurer Richard Thomas, Middlebury, Indiana, and Haubstadt,
Indiana’s Anita Schmitt, secretary. ADAI chief executive officer Jenni Browning of
Carmel, Indiana and her staff also welcomed guests, and Indianapolis Mayor Joe
Hogsett was on hand to congratulate the drivers.
The luncheon included a video tribute to the late Indianapolis Motor Speedway
chairwoman Mari Hulman George along with additional videos celebrating the Hoosier
dairy industry’s history at the Speedway. Motorsports commentator Vince Welch emceed
for the 21st consecutive year, and led a conversation among the rookie drivers about their
impressions from their first May at Indy.
In addition to the inscription on the permanent Fastest Rookie trophy on display in the
IMS Museum, Herta received a plaque and $5000 cash award.
The Fastest Rookie award is one of two programs that continues the long association
between the Indiana dairy industry and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The beloved
Bottle of Milk presented to the winner of the 500-mile classic has been a part of Victory
Circle ceremonies for portions of nine decades – including for 64 consecutive years.
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 glass 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, ice-cold swig of milk. This year’s
champion will be greeted in Victory Circle by American Dairy Association Indiana’s
2019 “Milk People” – Hoosier dairy farmers Andrew Kuehnert of Fort Wayne and Jill
Houin, Plymouth. Both Kuehnert and Houin attended the Fastest Rookie luncheon.