Why does the Indy 500 champion drink milk? Every driver’s milk selection for 2023 race

The roots of the famous victory circle celebration at the Indy 500 date back to pre-World War II


For nearly a century, the winner of the Indy 500 has sipped on a glass of milk in victory lane and then tipped it all over themselves.

It’s a strange thing to do after three hours in a baking hot IndyCar at speeds of 240mph when you’re likely to be a sweaty mess.

But it’s tradition and there are few races in world motorsport that have as much tradition as the Indy 500.

The milk is just a small building block that makes the race the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ with driver introductions – and good ones unlike Formula 1 at Miami – and ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ highlights of race day.

And it all stems back to the victor of the 1936 race and a simple request that became legend.

Why does the Indy 500 winner drink milk?

Back in 1936, Louis Meyer became the first three-time winner of the Indy 500 and once he was back in pitlane, he asked for a glass of milk to cool down.

The photos from the time are truly iconic and it’s no surprise that IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway made that a tradition immediately.

That wasn’t the only tradition to make its debut in 1936 as the Borg-Warner Trophy was presented for the first time and is still awarded to the winner to this day.

As is the official pace car of the race which was suggested by Tommy Milton who drove the pace car in the 1936 event.

Milk Bottle Blitz at the Indy 500 Museum | IndyCar

What milk has each driver chosen?

Without Juan Pablo Montoya in the field, there is no flavoured milk on the menu such as chocolate, butterscotch or strawberry, leaving all 33 drivers choosing either whole milk, two per cent or skimmed.

Of those 33, 28 have opted for whole milk as their celebratory swig while former champions Helio Castroneves and Takuma Sato have both gone for two per cent along with Benjamin Pedersen.

Romain Grosjean and Katherine Legge are the only drivers in the field to have selected skimmed milk.

Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis is a motorsport journalist with experience working in BTCC. He is the resident IndyCar correspondent for Total-Motorsport.com and a top class F1 writer.
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