Only one of the 33 drivers has no preference.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated: May 24, 2019
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

The Indianapolis 500’s celebratory drinking of milk is one of the more bizarre traditions in sports — dating back to 1936 when then-winner Louis Meyer drank buttermilk as a recovery drink on his own accord. (Apparently, people were trying out crazy diet fads even 82 years ago.) But as USA Today recently pointed out, what might be even more unexpected than the tradition itself is all the work that goes into making sure it happens on race day. Bottles of milk don’t just materialize at racing events on their own: A lot of effort goes into it — including polling all the drivers on their milk preference.

Milk duties are handled by the American Dairy Association Indiana who has designated “milk people,” armed with a cooler that contains a bottle each of the three milk choices: Whole, 2-percent, and fat-free. But how do they know what to deliver to the winner? Turns out the American Dairy Association Indiana is also tasked with reaching out to each driver to determine what milk he’d like should he cross the finish line first.

For this year’s Indy 500, 21 of the drivers have opted for whole milk and 10 have requested 2-percent. That leaves two drivers: Marcus Ericsson is the lone driver to say he would like fat-free, and Will Power was the only one bold enough to say he doesn’t care what kind of milk he receives. (Sounds like that should be some sort of bad luck thing, right?)

Meanwhile, despite their request for whole, two drivers — Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe — added the additional note that, if it was up to them, they’d prefer to go back to the original milk of choice: buttermilk. Seriously, how small is this cooler the “milk people” have that they can’t fit a fourth bottle in it for the sake of tradition?

Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the survey participants as NASCAR drivers instead of IndyCar drivers.

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