SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The Indianapolis 500 returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, and race fans are excited to finally be allowed back in the stands. Some race day traditions will be returning as well.
2020 was the first time in more than 100 years that Purdue’s All-American Marching Band wasn’t at the Indy 500. But this year, 300 of the 400 members volunteered to come back for the race.
The Indy 500 will be the first live performance for the band since December 2019.
“Our role there consists of playing “On the Banks of the Wabash”, which is a very traditional piece for the Indianapolis 500. We play some specialty tunes throughout the morning,” said Jay Gephart, the band’s director.
Another popular tradition includes the Indy 500 winner, the winning car’s owner, and the head mechanic all getting milk in the Winner’s Circle. This year, they will be able to do that with a crowd cheering in the stands.
That milk is from right here in Indiana.
“The tradition of the milk is humbling to dairy farmers, knowing that’s a trophy we worked so hard to produce,” said Jill Houin, this year’s Indy 500 “milk person.”
Houin will be the one handing a jug of milk to the Indy 500 winner in the Winner’s Circle on Sunday.
“Knowing that I’m representing so many dairy farm families, there’s a lot of pressure not to drop that bottle,” she said. “But I know I’m ready for that challenge. I didn’t last year, and I will be successful this year!”
Most of the drivers picked whole milk as the drink waiting for them if they cross the finish line first. Not one went with skim milk.