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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / This Milk Choice of Indy 500 Drivers Leads to 100% More Wins

This Milk Choice of Indy 500 Drivers Leads to 100% More Wins

Publish Date: 05/23/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa


Little is more recognizable than the winner of the Indianapolis 500 race celebrating with a bottle of milk, having a small sip and soaking themselves and those around.

The American Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI) provides the milk, and polls drivers for their milk preference ahead of every race. Giving the options of whole milk, two-percent or fat-free.

The Grueling Truth went through the last eleven years’ worth of drivers’ milk preferences (2013 – 2023) to see if we could find any interesting stats.

Some of the more notable takeaways were:

  • Only 33% of drivers prefer two-percent milk, but those drivers have won six out of the last ten races. 100% better compared to drivers preferring whole milk that’s only won three times in the last ten years.
  • Whole milk is the preferred choice of most drivers with 56% choosing full-fat milk over a ten-year period.
  • 48% of drivers chose two-percent milk in 2013, but only 9% did so in 2023. In reverse, only 24% of drivers chose whole milk in 2013, but 85% chose it in 2023.
  • No drivers choosing fat-free milk has won over the last ten years.

Dig into our infographic for all the takeaways:

Why Does the Indy 500 Winner Drink Milk?

The tradition of milk being involved in the Indianapolis 500 victory celebration dates back to 1936. It all started when race winner Louis Meyer decided to drink buttermilk in Victory Lane, following his mother’s advice that it would provide refreshment on a scorching day. Recognizing the marketing potential, a dairy industry executive seized the opportunity, and since 1956, milk has become an integral part of every race, adding a unique and enduring element to the iconic event.

Why Is Buttermilk Not Offered?

While the tradition started with Louis Meyer drinking buttermilk to drench his thirst, buttermilk is actually not available for winners anymore.

Drivers like Ed Carpenter and Felix Rosenqvist had made futile attempts at suggesting it in the past with no luck.

Buttermilk has not been offered as an option since the mid-1990s. The reason behind this is that the buttermilk of today is not the same as the one Louis Meyer drank in 1936.

Meyer’s buttermilk was a refreshing, rich, and creamy leftover from homemade butter made by his mother. However, due to modern production practices in large dairy plants, traditional buttermilk has become highly perishable and is no longer available in the same form.


We extracted all polled drivers’ preferences from 2013 to 2022 as released by American Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI) on The driver’s choices were then gathered into a spreadsheet and common preferences were calculated.

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