Tips for Family Comfort & Fun at the Indy 500

Start your engines!

The city of Indianapolis is living and breathing the Indy 500 right now!  You are going to bring your family to the track for the first time and you have a few questions….well I might be able to help! I will keep it simple and if you don’t find what you need here check out or

Tips for family comfort and fun at the Indy 500:

  • First and foremost there are plenty of bathrooms and ATM’s sprinkled throughout the Speedway. So if you need extra money for souvenirs or if you hear “I have to go to the bathroom,” you need not worry! Speaking of souvenirs, the kids will want something to remember their fun experience at the race. There are plenty of low priced items you can purchase.
  • Keep cool. Race day will be HOT! So drink lots of liquids and use lots of sunscreen. Bring your own sunscreen because you will end up spending too much money for a little travel size if you buy it at the track. Bring bottled water and make half of the bottles frozen. Throughout the day they will melt and will be quite refreshing. Plus, you will not need to pack ice! Another idea to keep cool is to put some wet towels in your cooler so that you can put them around your child’s neck when they get hot. Buy a few ‘misters’ before the race so you can mist yourself to cool down.
  • Pack your lunch and snacks. You will save money. A variety of sandwiches, fruit, pretzels, cheese sticks, granola bars and peanuts are just some easy ideas.
  • Other items to bring:
    • Earplugs – the little ones will need these.
    • Moist wipes – you can leave home without those!
    • Strollers (and lawn chairs) are allowed but you can’t bring them in the stands.
    • Bags are permitted but cannot exceed the size of 14” by 14”

Remember to have fun and make memories. Take the camera to capture the moments. After the race you can refuel your body the same way the winning driver does and drink an ice cold bottle of MILK!!

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 

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.


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!

Honor in Indy 500 Milk Tradition

Insights offered by Deb Osza, Executive Director, American Dairy Association of Indiana

When I was growing up in Osceola in St. Joseph County, Indiana I remember watching the Indianapolis 500 mile race with my family.  It was always a thrill to see the winner drink the milk at the end of the race.

After I began working for the dairy industry at the Dairy Council of Northern Indiana, I continued watching the Indianapolis 500 each year.  I still experienced the thrill when the winner drank the milk, but I also felt pride.  The winner was drinking milk!  Wholesome, nutritious milk produced by our own Indiana dairy farmers!  Milk that I helped to promote!Helio Continue reading