Indianapolis 500 traditions: Milk chug, kissing bricks, winner’s wreath, Borg Warner trophy

The 2024 Indy 500 takes place this Sunday, May 26 at the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway located in the Hoosier state. Live coverage begins on NBC and Peacock at 11:00 AM ET. The 500-mile thriller entices those with a need for speed, but the race—which will be contested for the 108th time on Sunday—is rooted in so much history. See below for everything you need to know about the traditions of the Indy 500 as well as additional information on how to watch and live stream the event.

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What flowers are in the Indy 500 Winner’s Wreath?

The Winner's Wreath has been a part of the Indy 500 since 1960. As a tribute to the number of drivers in the race, the winner's wreath includes 33 ivory-colored orchids. The wreath also contains red, white, and blue ribbons and 33 mini-checkered flags.

IndyCar: Indianapolis 500 Winner
IndyCar: Indianapolis 500 Winner

Who makes the Indy 500 Winner’s Wreath?

Julie Vance, a full-service florist and native of Yorktown, Indiana, has been making the winner's wreath since 1992. Vance makes a wreath for the winner's circle and one for the winner's photoshoot which takes place the day after the race. The 2024 Indy 500 marks the 33 consecutive year that Vance will be making a wreath for the Victory Circle and she appreciates the impact of her craft.

“I was a little bit young to understand,” Vance said this spring, “but as I've gotten older it's probably the most outstanding thing I can imagine, especially being a florist, because the wreath is the most photographed flower arrangement in the world.

How did the Indy 500 milk tradition begin?

In 1933, after earning his second Indy 500 win, Louis Meyer requested a glass of buttermilk—a drink he often had as a refresher on hot days. In 1936, Meyer claimed his third Indy 500 title and this time, he was photographed with a glass of buttermilk in one hand and holding three fingers up on the other. The photo appeared in the paper the following day, catching the attention of a dairy industry executive who requested that milk would be available to the winner each year. It took some time for the tradition to stick. From 1947-1955, the winner received water in a silver cup, normally presented by track president and three-time Indy 500 winner Wilbur Shaw, with the words ‘Water from Wilbur’ engraved on the cup.

In 1956, the dairy industry posted a $400 bonus to the winner if they chose to drink milk in Victory Circle. And while the Shaw cup did remain for a few more years, milk has been part of the Indy 500 tradition ever since. Today, winners receive a $10,000 bonus from the American Dairy Association of Indiana.

Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis 500

Do you have to drink milk?

While drivers do have the choice, fans take the milk tradition very seriously. In 1993, driver and successful orange grove owner Emerson Fittipaldi wanted to promote the citrus industry and drank a bottle of orange juice after his second Indy 500 win. Fittipaldi was booed by fans, even after taking a sip of milk in an attempt to appease them. The decision tarnished his image for a period of time, and even got him booed at other IndyCar races.

What if the Indy 500 winner is lactose intolerant?

Every year, each driver is polled before the race to see what type of milk (whole, 2%, or fat-free) they would like if they were to win the event. Flavors are not allowed, but drivers can request lactose-free milk if they have an intolerance.

Who delivers the Indy 500 milk?

There are two designated milk people—dairy farmers voted in from the American Dairy Association of Indiana’s board with a two-year term. The rookie milk person brings milk to the winning mechanic and owner, while the second-year milk person delivers the milk to the winner of the race. In previous years, the milk and milk people have been transported with a police escort or armored truck.

Why does the Indy 500 winner kiss bricks?

The tradition of kissing the bricks at the Indy 500 actually came from The Brickyard 400—Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Cup Series race. Dale Jarrett and crew chief Todd Parrott were the first to kiss the yard of bricks after winning the Brickyard 400 in 1996.

Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis 500

When did the Borg-Warner Trophy start?

The Borg-Warner Trophy has been the highly coveted keepsake of the Indy 500 since 1936. The 52-inch, 110-pound, sterling silver trophy is worth over $3.5 million. The trophy features the face of each winner sculpted onto a separate square that includes their name, winning year, and average race speed.

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How can I watch the 2024 Indy 500 on Peacock?

The 2024 Indy 500 will be live streaming on Peacock on May 26, with the race starting at 11am ET. Sign up here to watch all of our LIVE sports and events, including IndyCar racing.

Please note: The 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2024 is subject to territorial blackout restrictions. This means that Peacock subscribers located in the Indianapolis area may not have access to stream the May 26 race, its subject to the same blackout restrictions as the local NBC affiliate stations.

What devices does Peacock support?

You can enjoy Peacock on a variety of devices. View the full list of supported devices here.