Michiana farm providing milk for famous Indy 500 tradition
LA PORTE COUNTY, Ind. - As much as the Indianapolis 500 is known for speed and power, it's the many traditions that truly make the day.
For more than eighty years, the winner of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" has celebrated in Victory Circle with a glass of milk.
But where do they get it? This year, from La Porte County.
“It started back in the 1930s, when Louis Meyer poured his momma’s buttermilk over his head,” said Kim Minich, whose local dairy farm will provide this year's selection. “I’m so excited to be a part of the race and a part of everything. We've got a sixth generation now on the farm, and so it’s been here a long time. It just really means a lot to be picked to be down at the track.”
Kim and her Husband Luke own Triple M Dairy, a farm that milks 1,100 cows three times per day, producing and shipping about 100,000 pounds of milk per day.
Last year, Minich was chosen as the "rookie" to provide milk to the winning owner and chief engineer. This year, she'll hand the glass of milk directly to the driver during the winner's celebration.
“The tradition just goes back for so many years and people love it," Minich said. "People flock around the cooler when you bring it in. ‘Oh, it’s the milk, it’s the milk!’ Especially in the state of Indiana, but around the country, people really know about it and get excited for it.”
Recent news, though, hasn't been so thrilling.
Triple M Dairy was one of more than one hundred midwest farms dropped by Dean Foods earlier this year. But still, Minich says days like Sunday show the positive side of a day's work.
“It doesn’t make the milk check any better but you know, it just kind of makes it worth it," she said. "Keeping those traditions alive like the part with the Indy 500 is why so many farmers continue. It’s not easy. The price isn’t always great, but the hard work and everything pays off in the end.”
And they've been working for more than a century.
Triple M Dairy was opened in 1909, the very same year the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was constructed. Coincidence, sure, but another nice connection tying the Speedway will those communities helping to keep its traditions alive.
And if nothing else, showing the next generation what is still possible from a humble life on the farm.
“It’s a good way to raise our family and I think that’s number one for us. Having them experience this and know that hard work, it’s worth it.”
The drivers take part each year in a "Milk Poll" where they select their milk preference just in case they win.
Whole milk was the most popular, with 17 drivers listing it as their preference. That includes the pole-sitter, native Hoosier Ed Carpenter, who said he'd really like to have buttermilk just like Louis Meyer did all those years ago.