KINGSBURY - Memories of handing the customary bottle of cold milk to the winning driver of the Indianapolis 500 are being stirred in a select number of dairy farmers statewide, including one from LaPorte County.
Kim Minich, who said her Victory Circle experience is not just fresh in her mind but many others wanting to know what it was like. “It was amazing. I still get a lot of people that ask about it,” said Minich.
Minich and the select number of Hoosier dairy farmers given the honor since 2006 are being presented with roadside signs this week by the American Dairy Association Indiana.
The signs list the name and when the farmer took part in the tradition dating back to when Louis Meyer asked for buttermilk after winning the 1936 race.
The signs are limited to dairy farmers in recent history because 2006 is when the ADAI took charge of handing milk to the winning driver.
“Whoever drives down the road knows this is a very special dairy farm,” said Allie Rieth, a spokesperson for the ADAI out of Indianapolis.
Reith said the sign presentations during National Dairy Month also help promote the hard work in getting milk to store coolers and this year’s race being pushed back from late May to August 23 due to coronavirus.
Minich was given her sign Tuesday at the family’s dairy farm between Kingsbury and Union Mills. She said the sign will go up at the family’s largest dairy operation in Stillwell about five miles east of LaPorte. She and her husband, Luke, have about 1,200 cows producing some three million gallons of milk a year at three locations.
Minich, 39, never milked a cow until 2009 when she and Luke moved from Indianapolis to get involved in the farm his family has owned since 1909. She later became a member of the ADAI board of directors, who asked her to present the milk at Victory Circle. She presented a cold bottle of milk to Will Power, the winning driver from 2018.
Minich said her Indianapolis Motor Speedway experience brought back memories of her father taking her to the time trials while growing up in Anderson about 40 miles northeast of Indianapolis. She made sure her father and entire family were there for the festivities that included some drivers milking a cow during a luncheon prior to the race. “We kind of made it a family affair so it was a really nice memory to have,” said Minich.
A picture of her in Victory Circle is what she uses in her profile on Facebook. She also brought home the empty bottle she presented to the driver. She balances her mostly bookkeeping work on the farm with her duties as a nurse practitioner for Indiana Health Centers and a teacher of nursing at St. Mary’s College.