Farmer by day. Milkman by Memorial Day weekend.
Meet the 2012 Indianapolis 500 Milkman, Dave Forgey. This Logansport, Ind., farmer has what some may see as the most important job during the big race.
"This Sunday I will be delivering the drink of milk to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 mile race," he said.
The race is an annual event and a tradition many Americans have come to enjoy. The tradition after the winning car crosses the finish line is rooted with Indiana dairy. It all started when Louis Meyer requested a glass of buttermilk after he won his second Indy 500 in 1933. That one drink has grown into a refreshing tradition that gives select dairymen a taste of fame.
If the selection process for the job is based on charismatic personality, and love for milk, then Indiana Dairy chose the right man for the job.
Dressed in his Sunday's best, Forgey will be representing milk from head to toe in his official milkman gear. With a crisp white shirt proudly displaying the slogan "Winners drink milk," and a hat that resembles a dairy cow, you won't miss Forgey on Sunday.
He says there isn't a certain type of milk discriminated against during the big race-- each milk type gets some love.
"We offer skim milk, 2 percent, or whole milk to the drivers. We have a list before the race of all what their preference will be," Forgey said. "And I will say most say I don't care what it is, just so I get it."
Similar to racing, you can't be a veteran in the sport until you've served your time as a rookie. The Milkman has to go through the same routine.
"Last year I was the rookie," he said. I followed Richard Thomas who gave the drink of milk. And I was supposed to learn from him. And I managed through that real well and so this year I am providing the drink of milk and Duane Hill is my rookie this year. He's from Fountain City, Indiana."
What do dairy producers and the Indianapolis 500 racecar drivers have in common? Well, in Forgey's mind, quite a bit.
"We all put tremendous hours into our job. A race driver always races on the weekend and practicing all week getting that car just right," Forgey said. "So, a lot of similarities in our job and what we do. Lots of endurance. You put a lots of hours into it."
There's one race, however, dairy producers win almost every time.
"I'm betting the dairy farmer gets up a little earlier, but they might work a little later at night."
What exactly does it take to be the Indy 500 Milkman?
"Well, there's nothing special about me other than I serve on the board of the milk promotions services, which is part of the Indiana diary association," Forgey said.
As modest as he is, when you dig a little deeper, you realize Forgey is a special producer int eh fact he represents other dairy producers on many different levels-- whether it be local, state or national. Forgey does it all.
"I’ve been active for several years," he said. "I think dairy farmers fall short sometimes in getting out and getting involved in organizations. And I've always been able to do that."
In Forgey's mind, the unique part of his job leading up to the race on Sunday is the prime opportunity to put milk in the spotlight on a national scale.
"My goal is strictly promoting milk in this," Forgey said. "I won’t' take anything else of my thoughts or ideas out to this. But promote the concept of milk, that drink of milk, at the Indy 500 that winners drink milk and the promotion that we've done with all of that."
At the end of the race, once the first car crosses the finish line and the checkered flag is waved vigorously in the air, it's dairy that's the winner in Forgey's book. And he says after Sunday, although his short-lived fame will fade, the experience is something he'll savor for years.
AgDay's Tyne Morgan enjoys a glass of milk with the 2012 Indianapolis 500 Milkman, Dave Forgey.
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