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Jimmie Johnson reveals his milk choice, should he win his first Indy 500

NASCAR turned IndyCar Series driver Jimmie Johnson is getting a new taste of Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the next few weeks. The seven-time NASCAR champ has won four stock car races on the iconic 2.5-mile oval, but now, he’s preparing for his first Indianapolis 500 — and the abundant traditions that go along with it.

One of the most famous of the many Indy 500 traditions is the race winner’s celebratory milk bath — a ritual that dates back to the 19030s. After the race, the winner is handed a bottle of milk and usually takes a few sips before dumping it on themselves and, inadvertently, splashing everyone standing close enough.

But it’s not just any bottle of milk. The American Dairy Association Indiana is in charge of the milk, and it polls drivers in advance to learn their milk preferences. And while we’ll likely have to wait a little longer to know every driver’s milk choice, Johnson shared his Thursday.

The choices are simple — whole milk, two percent or skim — and Indy 500 rookie Johnson is going with whole, should he win his first start. Whole milk is often the most popular choice.

Presumably wanting to be safe than sorry, Johnson also noted he wants the milk cold, which shouldn’t be an issue.

The so-called “milk people” from the American Dairy Association Indiana are often handcuffed to a chilled cooler with three bottles — one for each option — inside. When the race is over, they consult the milk survey and deliver the winner’s preferred bottle.

Curious about how this tradition began? Allow Indianapolis Motor Speedway to explain:

“Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer regularly drank buttermilk to refresh himself on a hot day and happened to drink some in Victory Lane as a matter of habit after winning the 1936 race. An executive with what was then the Milk Foundation was so elated when he saw the moment captured in a photograph in the sports section of his newspaper the following morning that he vowed to make sure it would be repeated in coming years. There was a period between 1947-55 when milk was apparently no longer offered, but the practice was revived in 1956 and has been a tradition ever since.”

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