SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — Victory lane is the place to be after 500 miles. The emotions are high and then the traditions continue. One individual has an important role in one of the most beloved customs at the track.
Andrew Kuehnert is a fifth-generation farmer at the 125-year-old Keuhnert Dairy.
“I’ve been a big race fan, always gone to the Indy 500 in my life, never had the position and opportunity to do what I’m doing and I’m truly excited,” he says.
They don’t always get the recognition, but these hands have also seen some early mornings and late nights.
“It’s what we do,” Kuehnert said. “We’ve done this forever, ever since I’ve been a little kid, it’s been all about the cows.
This year for Kuehnert, it’s all about one bottle of milk.
“This year I actually get to hand that bottle of milk to that winning driver,” he said. “You know nothing’s greater in the world (than) being a dairy farmer actually being able to hand milk to the winning driver, being proud to drink that milk as he wins the Indy 500.”
It’s definitely a tradition.
“Back in the ’30s, Louis Meyer won the Indy 500 and he started requesting buttermilk as the drink of choice,” said Brooke Williams with the American Dairy Association of Indiana. “The tradition, we say, started in 1936.”
With the cameras focused on that bottle of milk, it’s an opportunity for farms like Keuhnert dairy.
“Especially in the last two to three years a lot of dairy farms have gone out of business and it has become a struggle here for family dairy farms,” Keuhnert said.
Before the race, all 33 drivers are asked for their milk preference. As the winning driver crosses the finish line, the dairy association checks that drivers preference and brings it to victory circle.