INDIANAPOLIS – Seven Indianapolis 500 first-year drivers will vie for the 45th 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 21 at the Indianapolis
Motor Speedway Pagoda 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 #7 Marcus Ericsson, Kumla, Sweden
Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Car #10 Felix Rosenqvist, Malmo, Sweden
Chip Ganassi Racing
Car #19 Santino Ferrucci, Woodbury, Connecticut
Dale Coyne Racing
Car #31 Patricio O’Ward, Monterrey, Mexico
Car #42 Jordan King, Warwick, Warwickshire, England
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Car #81 Ben Hanley, Manchester, England
Car #88 Colton Herta, Valencia, California
Harding Steinbrenner Racing.
Last year’s Fastest Rookie award recipient was Matheus Leist, who captured top honors
with a four-lap average speed of 227.571 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 Indy 500 champions Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander
Rossi, Rick Mears, Eddie Cheever Jr, Jacques Villeneuve, Scott Dixon and Tony
Kanaan. Also among Fastest Rookie Award recipients are Fernando Alonso, Tony
Stewart, Chip Ganassi, Michael Andretti, Marco Andretti, JR Hildebrand, Danica
Patrick and Josef Newgarden.
The May 21 event begins with an 11 am reception, with lunch served at 11:30. The
program will start at 12 noon and will include a video tribute to the late Indianapolis
Motor Speedway chairman Mari Hulman George as well as conversations with all rookie
drivers in the 500-Mile Race field. This year’s Fastest Rookie also will receive his
awards: in addition to the inscription on the permanent trophy, the winning rookie driver
receives a plaque and $5000 cash award.
Event hosts include 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 will be on hand to welcome guests.
Veteran motorsports commentator Vince Welch will emcee the Fastest Rookie luncheon
for the 21st consecutive year. Guests will enjoy video presentations that document the
rookie drivers’ first Month of May at Indy and showcase the Hoosier dairy industry. Both
the Fastest Rookie trophy and the iconic Borg-Warner Trophy are scheduled to be on
display at the luncheon, courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
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 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, ice-cold drink 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 will attend the Fastest Rookie