Alan Wright of All Wright Farms near Muncie is the 2015 Indy 500 Veteran milkman and for him the experience as a rookie last year crystallized the tradition at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. He got a close look at how important the milk presentation is to dairy farmers, the racers and the fans.
“You don’t realize what it really means until people come up to you ask to get their picture taken with you as you’re holding the milk leading up to the race,” he said Tuesday as he prepared for a media blitz to promote ADA Indiana and the milk tradition. “We had families do that and we had a little boy following us for a little while. He wanted his picture taken with the milkman and the rookie milkman. That stands out and kind of tells you how important it is. We know it’s important because we deal with milk every day being a dairy farmer, but when people outside the dairy world see it you know how important it really is. Milk is the real thing there at the 500.”
Wright’s 4th generation dairy farm started in the current location just a few months before Louis Meyer first requested a glass of buttermilk after winning his second Indianapolis 500.
“My mom and dad and three brothers and myself make up All Wright Farms and we’ve been milking there since 1933, which is over 30,000 straight days. we’ve not missed a day and we’re pretty proud of that. We’re proud to be dairy farmers here in Indiana and I’m proud to represent the dairy farmers when I give the bottle here in victory lane this year.”
The Rookie this year, Janet Dague of Dague Dairy Farm near Kewanna in Fulton County told HAT it’s a smart process to have a rookie learning from a veteran.
“It is a good thing that I am a rookie this year. Alan is showing me the ropes, and yes, it’s overwhelming but exciting at the same time, and I’m really glad he’s here to give me pointers and tips.”
This year’s race marks the 60th consecutive year of the traditional bottle of milk for the winning Indy 500 driver, and it was in 1960 that Dague Dairy Farm started.
“My husband Andrew and I have been added to the farm for 20 years. We bought out his grandparents and now we are in partnership with his parents. We’re the third generation and we are working on bringing in the fourth generation!”
Both Dague and Wright sit on the board of American Dairy Association Indiana, Inc. And Dague is not the first woman milk person at the 500. Anita Schmitt of Evansville did the duties in 2007 and 2008, and Sam Schwoeppe from Huntingburg represented diary farmers in 2008 and 2009.