There’s no better tradition in all of sports than the ice-cold glass bottle of milk that’s handed to the winning driver of the Indianapolis 500 at the end of the race. This year, the top qualifying rookie has his goal set on not only winning the 107th Running of the Indy 500—but also celebrating with that bottle of milk in Victory Circle.
“Obviously, we’re trying to win this race and I think any milk at that stage would be really nice,” said Benjamin Pedersen with A.J. Foyt Racing. He was honored this week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) during the 49th annual Indianapolis 500 Fastest Rookie of the Year Awards Luncheon Presented by American Dairy Association Indiana.
Pedersen will be starting 11th in the middle of Row 4.
“It’s pretty surreal for my first time here to achieve that,” says Pedersen. “We also achieved the fastest rookie ever to qualify here, which is very special. I’m taking everything one day at a time and embracing all the traditions. For example, I literally just milked a cow here at IMS, so I’m just enjoying every minute of it.”
And that dairy cow was brought to the luncheon from the Purdue University Dairy Club to tie into the sponsorship of American Dairy Association Indiana. Alexander Rossi milked the Purdue Dairy Cow during the event when he was a rookie in 2016—and went on to win the Indy 500 less than a week ever. Pedersen says he’s hoping that having milked “Indy” the Purdue dairy cow brings him the same luck as it did Rossi.
“That is the biggest achievement in racing to win this race,” said Pedersen. “I’m just staying true to myself with tradition and embracing it fully. Hopefully that good luck passes to me.”
Another tradition is having the drivers choose between whole milk, skim milk or two-percent milk as their milk preference to have on stand-by once they take the checkered flag and begin their celebration in Victory Circle. Pedersen decided upon two-percent milk as his milk preference this year.
“It was a hard call between whole milk and two percent,” said Pedersen. “I feel like whole milk is definitely the popular choice, but when I was growing up, when I’ve had a glass of milk, I’ve always had two percent. That could maybe bring me some good luck and it definitely sounds very refreshing.”
Aside from the traditions associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pedersen gives a great deal of credit to his team with A.J. Foyt Racing, as well as his teammate Santino Ferrucci, who is starting fourth on the inside of Row 2. Most of all, Pedersen credits the legend himself—four-time Indy 500 winner and team owner, A.J. Foyt.
“The team has done an amazing job—and what an honor it is to drive for A.J. Foyt Racing here during the month of May,” said Pedersen. “A.J. is just so happy for the whole team. His eyes are very lit up right now with seeing the performances and just really really special to be a part of it
Click below to hear C.J. Miller’s interview with this year’s Indy 500 “Fastest Rookie” Benjamin Pedersen with A.J. Foyt Racing—during the 49th annual Indianapolis 500 Fastest Rookie of the Year Awards Luncheon Presented by American Dairy Association Indiana.