The Indy 500 is like the Kentucky Derby in that it’s a marquee race often watched by people who rarely watch racing, shrouded in tradition and ritual and functioning, for those folks, as a drinking holiday. Because few of us follow horse racing or car racing with great regularity, its mores are inscrutable and bizarre, none more so than the milk-drinking celebration that awaits the winner of the Indianapolis 500.
The tradition began in the 1930s when driver Louis Meyer, a regular buttermilk drinker, celebrated with a cold glass of the stuff after his Indy 500 win. Some bigwig at the Milk Foundation was so glad to see this free publicity that he vowed to make it a tradition, one that’s been ongoing—save for a milk-free period between 1947-1955—ever since.
Today, milk is supplied to the winner by the American Dairy Association Indiana, who polls all 33 drivers ahead of time as to their milk preferences. USA Today has a summary of the responses, which overwhelmingly opt for whole milk, with a few 2-percenters thrown in—and one, lone, single, solitary skim milk drinker.
That skim drinker is Marcus Ericsson, a 29-year-old Swedish driver who according to his official bio enjoys food and watching the Swedish version of MasterChef. If he’s so into food, doesn’t he know full-fat milk is the clearly superior version? Or is his fat-free preference less about which milk tastes best and more about which milk is most easily washed from one’s hair, clothing, and shoes after the race, in which case he might be right on the skim preference?
Crazy or cunning? Ericsson, explain yourself.