How Indy 500 traditions came to be

Why on earth do they chug milk when they win?! Let’s find out.

An image of Indy 500 winners drinking milk

Winners drink milk

This odd tradition started in 1936 after Louis Meyer, the first driver to win three Indy 500s, drank buttermilk post victory-lap.

Why buttermilk? Well because his mom told him cold buttermilk was the best thing to drink on a hot day.

Dairy execs saw the marketing potential and milk has been a time-honored tradition ever since Mr. Meyer’s dairy chug.

Drivers even select their milk preferences before the race. [Milk] spoiler alert: whole milk typically reigns supreme.

The phrase “Drivers, start your engines”

The cueing off of drivers has always been exciting! Aerial bomb explosions first gave the signal (can you imagine?), but later updated to John “Irish” Horan saying, “Gentleman, start your engines.”

Enter the first female driver, Janet Guthrie, and the phrase, “In company with the first lady ever to qualify at Indianapolis…” was added. It was later modified to “Ladies and gentleman, start your engines” as more female drivers came to play.

Today, the phrase has been modernized to “Drivers, start your engines!”

Kissing of the bricks

The most modern tradition of the Indy 500 is kissing the bricks. Winners and their teams can be seen kissing the bricks post-victory at one of the track’s original surfaces.

There has been some argument over who started this tradition, but you can bet that Indy fans’ favorite part of the grounds tour is surely kissing the bricks!

Fun fact: You’re encouraged to kiss the bricks on tours, running the Indy mini, really any type of event when you pass them by!

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