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103rd Indianapolis 500

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Photos Of Every Indy 500 Winner Drinking Milk And Why They Do It

The Indy 500 winner drinking milk is a tradition that was started by one of motor sport’s early legends, Louis Meyer.

When Louis won his second Indy 500 in 1933, he randomly drank a glass of cold buttermilk in Victory Lane. His mother had told him a glass of buttermilk was the best thing to drink on a hot day. Although, thats not where the tradition sparked.

The tradition sparked in 1936 when Louis Meyer won his third Indy 500 and followed it with taking a big swig from a bottle of milk. A dairy industry executive saw the photo in the newspaper the following day and recognized the immense marketing potential.

The dairy industry executive then started to arranged for cold milk to be made available to every winner of the Indy 500.

Wilbur Shaw intervened on the milk drinking tradition in 1947, establishing the short-lived “Water from Wilbur” ceremony whereby he presented the winner with a silver cup of water. After his tragic death in 1954, the milk industry got back into the race by offering the winner a $400 bonus if they drank the milk in Victory Lane.

Currently, there is a $10,000 award paid out by the American Dairy Association of Indiana if the winner of the Indy 500 drinks milk in the victory lane.

With such an incentive, the winning drivers began to comply and has made the practice an annual fixture at the event.

Today, every driver is polled before the race on their preference of milk before the race, and they can choose from among whole, 2 percent, and skim milk. The milk for every driver is stashed away in a fridge and the winning drivers milk is presented to them on Victory Lane once they win the race.

Take a look at a blast from the past in seeing photos of every Indy 500 winner drinking milk after they won the race!

1. 2023 – Josef Newgarden

The 107th Running of Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Josef Newgarden, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet, celebrates by pouring milk on his head after winning the 107th Running of Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 28, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

2. 2022 – Marcus Ericsson

106th Running Of The Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Marcus Ericsson of Sweden, driver of the #5 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, celebrates in Victory Lane by pouring milk on his head after winning the 106th Running of The Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

3. 2021 – Helio Castroneves

AUTO: MAY 30 INDYCAR - The 105th Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

NTT Indy Car Series driver Helio Castroneves pours milk over his head after winning the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 2021 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.

4. 2020 – Takuma Sato

104th Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Takuma Sato of Japan celebrates winning the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 23, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

5. 2019 – Simon Pagenaud

103rd Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Simon Pagenaud of France, driver of the #22 Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates winning the 103rd Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

6. 2018 – Will Power

102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Will Power of Australia, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates by drinking milk after winning the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 27, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

7. 2017 – Takuma Sato

AUTO: MAY 28 IndyCar - Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Takuma Sato, driver of the #26 Andretti Autosport Honda, drinks the traditional glass bottle of milk with team owner Michael Andretti following his victory of the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28, 2017, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.

8. 2016 – Alexander Rossi

2016 Indy 500 Presented by PennGrade Motor Oil Source:Getty

100th Indianapolis 500: Alexander Rossi victorious, holding milk bottle after winning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

9. 2015 – Juan Pablo Montoya

Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia driver of the #2 Team Penske Chevrolet Dallara celebrates after winning the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race by drinking milk at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

10. 2014 – Ryan Hunter-Reay

98th Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara, celebrates in Victory Lane with milk after winning the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

11. 2013 – Tony Kanaan

Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Tony Kanaan of Brazil, driver of the Hydroxycut KV Racing Technology-SH Racing Chevrolet, pours the victory milk over his head as he celebrates in victory circle after winning the IZOD IndyCar Series 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

12. 2012 – Dario Franchitti

Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Dario Franchitti of Scotland, driver of the #50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, pours the victory milk over his head in victory lane in celebration of winning the IZOD IndyCar Series 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

13. 2011 – Dan Wheldon

Indianapolis 500 Mile Race Source:Getty

IndyCar 95th Indianapolis 500: Dan Wheldon (98) victorious, drinking milk during Victory Lane celebration after winning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. View of Borg-Warner Trophy.

14. 2010 – Dario Franchitti

Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Dario Franchitti of Scotland, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, drinks the ceremonial winner’s milk over in victory lane in celebration of winning the IZOD IndyCar Series 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 30, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

15. 2009 – helio Castroneves

Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Team Penske Dallara Honda, celebrates in victory lane after winning the IRL IndyCar Series 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.

16. 2008 – Scott Dixon

92nd Indianapolis 500 Source:Getty

Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, pours milk over his head in the winner’s circle in celebration of winning the IRL IndyCar Series 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 25, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

17. 2007 – Dario Franchitti

CAR-INDY 500-FRANCHITTI Source:Getty

Winner Dario Franchitti of Scotland drinks the traditional jug of milk after winning the rain shortened 91st Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 27 May 2007 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

18. 2006 – Sam Hornish Jr.

CAR-INDY 500-WINNER-HORNISH JR Source:Getty

Driver Sam Hornish Jr. of the US drinks the tradition jug of milk after winning the 90th Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 28 May 2006 in Indianapolis.

19. 2005 – Dan Wheldon

IRL Racing 2005 - Indy 500 Source:Getty

Race winner Dan Weldon swigs the traditional milk in Victory Circle at the 89th Annual Indianapolis 500.

20. 2004 – Buddy Rice

Buddy Rice of the US drinks the traditio Source:Getty

Buddy Rice of the US drinks the traditional jug of milk 30 May 2004 after winning the 88th Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN.

21. 2003 – Gil de Ferran

CAR-INDY 500-WINNER-DE FERRAN 3 Source:Getty

Gil de Ferran of Brazil celebrates in the winner circle by drinking the traditional jug of milk after winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 25 May, 2003.

22. 2002 – Helio Castroneves

CAR-INDY 500-CASTRONEVES-DRINK MILK Source:Getty

Helio Castroneves of Brazil celebrates his back-to-back victories by drinking two jugs of the traditional milk, 26 May 2002, in the 86th running of Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN. Castroneves becomes the first driver since Al Unser in 1971 to win back-to-back titles.

23. 2001 – Helio Castroneves

CAR-INDY-CASTRONEVES-WINNER-MILK Source:Getty

Racecar driver Helio Castroneves of Brazil celebrates 27 May, 2001 after winning the 85th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN. Castroneves won the race for the first time and the eleventh time for car owner Roger Penske.

24. 2000 – Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Montoya of Colombia holds the jug of milk aft Source:Getty

Juan Montoya of Colombia holds the jug of milk after winning the Indianapolis 500, 28 May, 2000, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. Montoya is the first rookie to win the race since 1966.

25. 1999 – Kenny Brack

CAR-INDY 500-BRACK-MILK DRINK Source:Getty

Kenny Brack of the Sweden drinks from the traditional jug of milk in the winners’ circle 30 May 1999 after he won the 83rd Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.

26. 1997 – Arie Luyendyk

CAR-INDY500-LUYENDYK MILK Source:Getty

Arie Luyendyk of Holland drinks the traditional jug of milk 27 May in the winners circle of the Indianapolis 500 automobile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis, IN.

27. 1996 – Buddy Lazier

INDY 500 LAZIER Source:Getty

Buddy Lazier, of the US, drinks the traditional mike from the winners circle after winning the 1996 Indianapolis 500, 26 May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Lazier held off Davy Jones to win his first Indianapolis 500.

28. 1995 – Jacques Villeneuve

1995 Indy 500 Source:Getty

Indianapolis 500: Jacques Villeneuve victorious with bottle of milk in hand during Victory Lane celebration after winning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indianapolis, IN.

29. 1994 – Al Unser Jr.

1994 Indy 500 Source:Getty

Indianapolis 500: Al Unser Jr. victorious drinking milk and giving thumbs up sign in victory lane after winning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

30. 1993 – Emerson Fittipaldi

Emerson Fittipaldi drink Orange Juice after winning the 1993 Indy 500 Source:n/a

Emerson Fittipaldi drink Orange Juice after winning the 1993 Indy 500 emerson fittipaldi drink orange juice after winning the 1993 indy 500

31. 1992 – Al Unser Jr.

US-AL UNSER JR. WINNER Source:Getty

U.S. race driver Al Unser Jr. (C) celebrates his victory with a traditional drink of milk in the winners circle 24 May, 1992 after winning the 76th Indianapolis 500. Unser is joined by his son, Al Richard (L) , and his daughter Cody (R).

32. 1991 – Rick Mears

1991 Indy 500 Source:Getty

Indianapolis 500: Rick Mears victorious with wife Chris, holding bottle of milk and with Borg-Warner Trophy behind him in Victory Lane after winning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

33. 1990 – Arie Luyendyk

1990 Arie Luyendyk milk being drank after he won the Indy 500 Source:n/a

34. 1987 – Al Unser

Al Unser Sr, 1987 Indy 500 Source:Getty

Auto Racing: Indianapolis 500, Closeup of Al Unser Sr, (25) victorious with Borg-Warner Trophy and gesturing number four with hand from Victory Lane after winning 4th career Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, IN.

35. 1988 – Rick Mears

1988 Indy 500 Source:Getty

Indianapolis 500: Rick Mears victorious during Victory Lane celebration after winning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

36. 1986 – Bobby Rahal

1986 Indy 500 Source:Getty

Indianapolis 500: Bobby Rahal victorious drinking milk in Victory Lane after winning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

37. 1979 – Rick Mears

1979 Indy 500 Source:Getty

Indianapolis 500: Rick Mears victorious drinking milk and wearing wreath around neck in victory lane after winning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

38. 1984 – Rick Mears

Rick Mears Drinking Milk After Winning Source:Getty

Rick Mears is shown drinking from a bottle of milk in the Winner’s Circle after winning the Indianapolis 500.

39. 1974 – Johnny Rutherford

1974 Indianapolis - Indy 500... Source:Getty

1974 Indianapolis – Indy 500. Race winner Johnny Rutherford drinks from the traditional bottled milk in victory circle.

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