Rushville farmer represents Indiana dairies at the Indy 500
At the Indianapolis 500 on May 25, winning driver Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport. Main photo courtesy of the Indiana Motor Speedway; inset photo by Jackie Barber of the American Dairy Association of Indiana.
Each year in Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500, the winning driver receives the coveted bottle of ice-cold milk from an Indiana dairy farmer.
This year, that dairy farmer was Ken Hoeing of Rushville, Ind., and the winning driver was Ryan Hunter-Reay, who, along with half of the field, selected 2% milk as his beverage of choice.
One of the most unique prizes in the sports world, the post-race milk tradition began in 1933, when Louis Meyer requested a glass of buttermilk after winning the race. The tradition has continued uninterrupted since 1956.
Being selected as Milkman is a two-year endeavor. Last year, Hoeing served as Rookie Milkman, an internship of sorts before taking on the responsibility of being veteran Milkman. As Rookie Milkman, job responsibilities include making sure the milk is on ice and not lost during the course of the race and handing celebratory bottles to the winning crew chief and team owner in victory lane. This year’s Rookie Milkman was Alan Wright of Muncie, Ind.
The night before the race, the Milkmen made sure that the milk was in the appropriate bottles and refrigerated for the following day. “ESPN Sports came to film us bringing in the milk, and that was really cool,” said Hoeing.
“Race day was so much fun,” Hoeing said. “I don’t know how to describe it. It was an honor to represent Indiana dairy farmers and to play a part in carrying on the milk-passing tradition.”
Hoeing farms 3,000 acres of grain and milks 400 cows with four of his brothers, on a farm started by his grandfather in 1947.
At the Indianapolis 500 on May 25, dairy farmer Ken Hoeing (shown above on Race Day on his farm near Rushville), who was this year’s official Indy 500 Milkman, handed an ice-cold bottle of 2 percent milk to winning driver Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport. Main photo courtesy of the Indiana Motor Speedway; inset photo by Jackie Barber of the American Dairy Association of Indiana.