INDIANAPOLIS – Rinus VeeKay, who this past weekend turned in the best qualifying run for a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history, was honored today (Tues, Aug 18) by American Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI) as recipient of the 46th annual Fastest Rookie of the Year Award.
The 19-year old from Hoofddorp, Netherlands, posted a four-lap average speed of 230.704 mph in the #21 SONAX – Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, good for a starting spot inside row two for Sunday’s race. He was guest of honor at the Fastest Rookie virtual awards celebration this afternoon, an event that was viewed by hundreds of representatives of the dairy industry from throughout Indiana and the US, motorsports personalities and local, national and international media. The celebration was transitioned from its usual luncheon format to a virtual program due to COVID-19 concerns.
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 four other rookie drivers in this year’s field also attended via live link: Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward, Oliver Askew and Dalton Kellett.
Event hosts included members of the board of directors of American Dairy Association Indiana: president Richard Thomas of Middlebury, Indiana; vice president Janet Dague of Kewanna; and treasurer Tim Haynes of Garrett. ADAI chief executive officer Jenni Browning of Carmel also participated. Video greetings from Joe Hogsett, Mayor of the City of Indianapolis, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles congratulated the first-year drivers and recognized the long partnership between the Speedway and the Hoosier dairy industry.
Indianapolis sports commentators Derek Schultz and Jake Query, a member of the IMS Radio Network, emceed the event and led a conversation among the rookie drivers about their impressions from their first experiences at Indy.
In addition to the inscription on the permanent Fastest Rookie trophy on display in the IMS Museum, VeeKay received a custom-designed plaque and $10,000 cash award from ADAI.
The Fastest Rookie of the Year 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 65 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 drinking 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 Anton “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 2020 Milk Person, Hoosier dairy farmer Jill Houin of Plymouth, Indiana.