The Tradition Continues…

IMS Photo by Jim Haines

For those of you who haven’t spent time in Indiana during Memorial Day weekend, you may not know that the Indianapolis 500 is celebrated far and wide throughout the Hoosier state. And you also may not realize that in most parts of Indiana, the race is broadcast live via radio, not television. And, finally you also may not understand the importance of certain Indy 500 traditions, the most important one being the drink of milk by the winning driver at the end of the race (also dubbed the “Sports World’s Coolest Prize” by sportsillustrated.com). 

The American Dairy Association of Indiana is in charge of providing the milk that gets handed to the winning driver. Each year, an Indiana dairy farmer is selected to be the person who gets to hand over the bottle of ice cold milk to the winning driver. This is a two year commitment with the first year being a “rookie” year, and the second year being a “mentor” year. The rookie hands a bottle of milk to the winning driver’s chief mechanic and team owner; the “mentor” hands a bottle of milk to the winning driver.  Richard Thomas was the mentor and Dave Forgey was the rookie.

The Milkmen had to be at a designated parking lot in downtown Indy by 7:00 a.m. on race day or else the police escort would leave without them. What would have been a two to three hour drive through traffic became a less than 10 minute zip through traffic. Once inside, the milkmen had to take the milk and secure it in their suite. They came back down and talked with fans, handed out Indy 500 pins, and held several interviews on television stations.

Once the milkmen were done giving interviews, they were able to relax and enjoy the pre-race festivities a bit. Again, for you non-race fans, the pre-race festivities are steeped in tradition, including the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana”, balloons being released before the start of the race, the singing of the national anthem, a fly over by a U.S. military aircraft, the famous line “Ladies and gentlemen start your engines”, and finally the official start of the race—the pace lap. As the green flag waved, the cars take off.  

At lap 175, the milkmen were escorted to Victory Circle where they waited to greet the 100th Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon, the team owner and the chief mechanic with a cold bottle of milk. The race was over, the milk was delivered, and Richard and Dave were homeward bound to go back to their dairy farms to continue to produce that wholesome, nutritious product – milk- that will be given to next year’s winner of the Indy 500.

ALL Indy 500 Drivers Want To Meet These Guys

Every driver in the 2011 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race will want to make the acquaintance of two Hoosier
dairy farmers on Sunday afternoon, May 29.

And they’ll know exactly where to find them. Richard Thomas and David Forgey will be standing, cooler in hand, on some of Central Indiana’s most valuable real estate – Victory Circle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Thomas, a dairy farmer from the small northern Indiana community of Middlebury, in the heart of Amish Country, and Forgey, whose River-View Dairy Farm literally is on the banks of the Wabash near Logansport, are assuming responsibility for continuing one of Indianapolis’ most treasured traditions. The “Milkmen” will deliver the fabled Bottle of Milk to the winner of the 95th 500-Mile Race, courtesy of the American Dairy Association of Indiana. Both are board members of Milk Promotion Services of Indiana (MPSI). Continue reading

Zoopolis

By Mary Nicholson

“Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines” not only applies to the thirty-three drivers of the Indianapolis 500, but also to an event at the Indianapolis Zoo.  On Wednesday, May 25, 2011, Aldabra tortoises, perhaps even “AJ” and “Lynn” will take part in Zoopolis, sponsored by the American Dairy Association of Indiana and Winners Drink Milk.  What began as a “race” when the tortoises were moved from their winter quarters to their summer homes has grown into an event that begins with a parade lap by Buttercup, the mascot of the Dairy Association, and several other zoo mascots.  Elles Niessen, Dairy Princess, will join the festivities, and perhaps a 500 Festival Princess or two.  The “Voice of the Zoopolis 500” will again be Mike King, the voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway radio network.  He usually interviews some of the VIP’s who are on hand that day.  And once again, the honorary flagman will be crowd favorite Tony Kanaan, driving this year for KV Racing Technology.  Once the green flag drops, the Aldabra and perhaps some radiated tortoises will “race” to the finish line with the assistance of their crew.  The big difference in this race is that the tortoises will not be drinking that famous bottle of milk in victory lane, but the winning crew will be!  The tortoise’s prize is a ginormous mound of fresh fruit.

Even guests at the Zoo can get into the “Winners Drink Milk” craze before the race!  Ice cold bottles of milk will be available near the arena where Zoopolis happens. You can even take your own milk mustache pictures under our tent!  So come and join us and the tortoises on Wednesday, May 25, and cheer for your favorite reptile!

Behind the scenes of the Rookie Luncheon

By Mary Nicholson

One of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s longest-running programs under the same sponsorship since its inception is the American Dairy Association of Indiana’s Fastest Rookie of the Year event.  This year marks the 37th time this annual awards luncheon has been held.  Now I wasn’t there for the first one of these, but I can tell you what it’s been like the last few years.  Have you ever had a party in someone’s honor, but didn’t know who that someone was until a day or two before the party?  It’s a little like that.

Our awards luncheon is held on the Tuesday after the last day of qualifications, and it’s an invitation only event.  The rookie drivers and usually a few people from their teams are there, and that really varies from year to year.  I think my first Rookie Luncheon had a group of maybe 12 rookie drivers, and not that long ago, there were only two!  It’s a similar situation with our board of directors – if it’s been a wet spring and they haven’t been able to get into the fields to plant corn for their dairy cows, only a few are able to come to the luncheon.

There is always some time to mingle before the things get started with a brief welcome, invocation, and a delicious meal. ABC and ESPN’s Vince Welch has been the emcee for many years, and he always knows stories to tell on each of the rookies as they are introduced. This year’s class could add another female driver to the mix!  Pippa Mann from Ipswich, England, has driven on the famed oval in the Indy Lights series, but this is her first opportunity to try to become an Indy 500 driver.  This year’s rookie class also has the potential for the first Chinese racer with Ho-Pin Tung driving for Schmidt Dragon Racing. Scott Speed returns to the track, but this is his first time in an Indy car. When he was here before, he was driving in the Formula One race.  So he still qualifies as a “rookie”.  Two other Englishmen – James Jakes and Jay Howard – could be among our guests, as could Californian Charlie Kimball or Canadian James Hinchcliffe.

No matter who is in attendance at the Fastest Rookie Luncheon, the program will conclude with the awarding of prizes to the fastest qualifying rookie driver, everyone singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” led by our board member Paul Mills (he could go up against Jim Nabors any day!), and finally, a “milk toast”.  Thanks to our Indiana dairy farmers who make this great tradition possible!


Porch Menus

By Michelle Plummer

Porches, Swings and the Dinner Bells Ring

As the warm spring winds begin to warm the yard and the aromas of flowers perfume those breezes, it is more and more difficult to bring ourselves inside to gather and make dinner.  So don’t!  Spring allows us to enjoy foods in a new setting…the Porch.  In the south, porches wrap around the house and it is easy to find a stoop to sit at.  Dinner time can really be family time by taking dinner outside.  The messes are easily cleaned up and the dishes discarded.  Tonight, let’s plan to meet on the veranda for a dinner that is enjoyable for everyone and no one will miss the sun and breezes!

Made It Through Monday– stuffed pita pockets, featuring, rotisserie chicken, whole wheat pita, lettuce, tomatoes, creamy cucumber sauce, hummus, celery dippers and cheese cubes.  For dessert, make a yogurt bar with fun toppings and enjoy them as you enjoy the rhythm of the porch swing. Continue reading

Meet Kimmi Devaney

What do you do at Indiana Dairy?

I am the Producer Relations Program Coordinator and am responsible for protecting/promoting the image of dairy farmers and their products to the consumer, as well as building and maintaining connections within the dairy industry. My degree is in animal science with an emphasis in dairy production management, my family was in the dairy business and I have worked on dairies myself, so I know dairy farming firsthand and can relate very well to our farmers.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is visiting dairies and meeting dairy farmers. Its fun learning about what everyone is doing and seeing different dairy facilities. Dairy farmers are some of the hardest working, dedicated and nicest people I know, and I am thrilled to be working for them.

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Ready to Race

By Mary Nicholson

It’s May!  The month to celebrate in Indianapolis!  Checked flags will soon be decorating mailboxes, flagpoles, gas stations, and grocery stores.  I can hardly wait!  I never dreamed I would become a “track rat”, but in my twelve years of living in Indiana, I certainly have.

It helps that I work for the American Dairy Association of Indiana, sponsors of that famous “Drink of Milk in Victory Circle”.  Being involved with a tradition like that certainly plays a part in my interest in the race. There’s just something special about the track.  After moving here in 1998, I was amazed the first time we drove by it.  Having seen the race on TV, I never imagined how large the whole IMS grounds are.  I was equally surprised to see that there are regular homes, churches and schools so close to it.  When you drive by the track at nighttime – not during Indy 500 or Brickyard festivities – it is so quiet and dark and a little foreboding.  Quite the opposite is true during daylight hours, and especially when it’s getting close to a Race Day. It’s one of the best places to be!

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