We are a little more than a month away from the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500. As part of the annual tradition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, two Indiana dairy producers will be part of the celebration at the end of this year’s race. One of whom is a fourth-generation dairy producer from northern Indiana.
“To hand off that coolest trophy that there is a bottle of milk to the winning driver or winning team—it is really exciting. I’m living the dream here a little bit,” says Alex Neuenschwander, who is this year’s “Indy 500 Rookie Milk Man.” He’ll be handing off the traditional glass bottle of milk to the winning chief mechanic, while Kerry Estes of Fountaintown, who is this year’s “Indy 500 Veteran Milk Man,” will hand the milk to this year’s winning driver.
How did Neuenschwander become this year’s “Indy 500 Rookie Milk Person”?
“Two years ago, I went to the Indianapolis 500 and brought my son Case along with me. We could both feel the cars as they’re going around and you could feel them in your chest—and my son said, ‘Dad, you have to be the Milk Person!’ I signed up, I was chosen, and it is a huge honor,” says Neuenschwander.
He and his brother Kip are both co-owners of Neu-Hope Dairy near Bluffton in Wells County.
Neuenschwander says he’s proud of the sustainability practices on his family farm—which includes recycling water and re-using it up to four different times.
“We start off by pumping water out of the ground. First, it goes through a plate cooler and cools down our milk. From there, in the summertime, it can be used as sprinkling water to cool the cows—or used to water the cows. A cow can drink up to 90 gallons of water a day,” according to Neuenschwander.
“After the cows drinks it, then it goes into our lagoon. We utilize a flush barn from there and we’re using it for nutrients on our fields.”
He points to the dairy industry as leaders in climate-smart agriculture.
“Cows are the essence of sustainability. If you think of what they can do—being able to eat pretty much anything and produce milk from it. The cattle take all these byproducts that we can’t consume and turn those into milk—something that is so nutritious. It’s amazing to me the cow is just the epitome of sustainability,” says Neuenschwander.
He adds that he is proud to represent Indiana’s dairy producers as part of the celebration in Victory Circle at the end of this year’s Indy 500.
“The Indy 500 is all about tradition and I’m excited to be part of the tradition,” says Neuenschwander. “It is such a huge stage for all of the hard-working men and women that are in the industry. I’m excited and humbled to be part of that and to be chosen and by my fellow dairy farmers is a huge honor.”
Click here to read from Donald Davidson, Historian Emeritus of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, how the glass bottle of milk became part of the winner’s celebration and tradition at the Indianapolis 500.
Click below to hear the full interview with Alex Neuenschwander as part of “The Dairy Download Podcast Presented by the American Dairy Association Indiana.”