2024 Indianapolis 500 Coverage

Kyle Larson Is Living The Indy 500 One Tradition At A Time

Kyle Larson Is Living The Indy 500 One Tradition At A Time

Kyle Larson is getting the whole Indianapolis 500 experience as a rookie of the tradition-filled event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

May 21, 2024 by Kyle McFadden

The Indianapolis 500 is tradition exemplified. And apparently one of those traditions are the rookies of the legendary event having to milk a cow as their unofficial admittance into Tuesday's Rookie Luncheon inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Gallagher Pavilion.

Kyle Larson, and likely so many other ill-informed Indy 500 onlookers, had not been aware of the cow-milking tradition at The Greatest Spectacle in Racing until only a few days ago. Usually conducting himself whether in interviews or general conversations as his usual, laid back self, one question after Fast Friday's news conference asking if he'd indeed the milk the cow caught him humorously off guard.

"Do you plan on milking the cow next week," the Associated Press's Jenna Fryer asked Larson.

"What?" Larson answered as shock rushed across his face. "Is that a thing? I have not heard about that."

Larson paused slightly, still hilariously taken aback, then looked over to reigning Indy 500 champion Josef Newgarden with the facial expression that basically asked, "Is this true?" Laughing himself, Newgarden couldn't lie.

"Yeah, I guess I will," Larson continued. "Do you get to glove up?"

Yes, Larson did successfully milk the cow named Cream who'd been hauled onto the famed property of the 2.5-mile oval on Tuesday courtesy of Purdue University's agricultural dairy unit.

“Yeah, first time I’ve milked a cow. Honestly, though, it’s a cool experience and a unique tradition that I guess started not too long ago with (Alexander) Rossi (in 2016). Yeah, I enjoyed it. I’m sure all the other rookies are enjoying. It’s different. I didn’t know I was going to have to do this until Friday.”

Tom Kelly, the manager of Purdue University's dairy farm, gave some fun facts saying the 3-year-old cow is nearly heavier than an actual IndyCar: The cow weighing roughly 1,400 pounds versus an IndyCar's approximate weight of 1,650 pounds. Kelly also said each rookie — including Larson — passed the cow-milking test.

"We are excited about that," Kelly told FloRacing. "We do a lot of work with students at the university. And these firs-time rookie drivers today are doing a great job of milking the cow. It takes some practice before you can actually get milk to come out. It's not as easy it looks."

Kyle Larson and wife Katelyn pose for a fun picture outside Indianapolis Motor Speedway concourse. (Titus Slaughter)

The topic of dairy has great meaning at the Indy 500. And it all started with Louis Meyer's win in 1933, where he requested a glass of buttermilk — supposedly his go-to refreshment — upon his victory lane celebration. Fast forward three years after that and Meyer had claimed his third Indy 500 in 1936. He then, too, celebrated over a glass of buttermilk. With the publicity of the Indy 500 amplifying, an unknown dairy industry executive took notice and requested that milk would be the official celebratory drink of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing from that point forward.

That tradition, of course, has not stopped. The iconic milk designated for the winner has gotten so popular that Indy 500 officials request every Indy 500 starters' milk of choice should they reach victory lane. Twenty-seven of the 33 starters chose whole milk, with Larson among those. 

Considering BetMGM of Las Vegas pegs Larson with the fourth-best betting odds to win the Indy 500 as of Tuesday afternoon and accounting for the fact he starts fifth in the 200-lap race, Larson could very well add drinking the coolest, sweetest glass of whole milk to his growing legacy come Sunday evening.

Kyle Larson during media availability after Tuesday's Rookie Luncheon at IMS. (Kyle McFadden)

Among other traditions left to live out this week are Saturday's public drivers' meeting at 10:30 a.m., which then segues into the event's festival parade that journeys though Downtown Indy.

"It's an honor to be here racing an IndyCar at Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Larson said as he received 50th Fastest Rookie of the Year award on Tuesday inside Gallagher Pavilion. "I've raced stock cars around the oval and road course, but doesn't feel the same as running an IndyCar around here a 240 mph — or whatever we hit going down the straightaway and qualifying. It's just a fun challenge and I learn something new (each day).

"And get to experience everything, as well as milking the cow. So that's good and fun and enjoyable. Just proud to be a part of it."

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