(Editor’s note: NBC Sports has selected the Top 10 Indy 500s of All-Time through an esteemed panel of former drivers, broadcasters, journalists and historians. The countdown will run through the 107th Indianapolis 500.)
It was the swig seen around the world – and for decades to come at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
After becoming the first three-time winner in Indy 500 history, Louis Meyer made an unusual request in victory lane. He asked for a glass of buttermilk, which he believed to be the best refreshment on a hot day (advice instilled by his mother).
Meyer, who also won at the Brickyard in 1928 and ’33, was handed a bottle and took a big gulp in a lasting image that appeared in newspapers the next day. That caught the attention of a dairy industry executive who asked that milk be available annually to the winner. Since 1956, the Indiana Dairy Association has compensated Indy 500 winners for including milk in their celebrations (currently a $10,000 payout).
INDY 500 PRIMER: Questions and answers for the world’s biggest race
It’s among many traditions and legacies from the 1936 Indy 500:
–The race was the first in which the Borg-Warner Trophy was presented to the winner.
–Pace car driver Tommy Milton (a two-time Indy 500 winner) suggested that the Indy 500 winner be awarded the pace car as part of the winning prize package.
–The 1936 Indy 500 marked the first time that freshman drivers were required to pass a test that now is known as the Rookie Orientation Program.
There were other safety enhancements made at IMS for the 1936 Indy 500, which could claim the only Month of May between 1929-40 without a fatality on the track. The angle of the outside retaining wall was altered to avoid launching cars outside the track. Cars were limited to 37.5 gallons of gasoline, which forced teams to work on engines that were slower and more efficient.
In another historical quirk, Bill Cummings (who won the 1934 Indy 500) was left on the grid for the start in 1936, becoming the first driver unable to start the race in Indy 500 history.
NBC Sports has ranked the Top 10 Indy 500s through a panel that judged through scores of 1-20 in five categories (with a total of 100 being perfect): quality of racing, memorable moments, strength of competition, historical impact and spectacle.
Here’s a look at No. 6 on the list:
Winner: Louis Meyer
Margin of victory: 137.15 seconds
Lead changes: Six among five drivers
Other contenders: Runner-up Ted Horn led 16 laps (from Lap 131-146). … Wilbur Shaw led 51 consecutive laps (from Lap 32-82).
Winning move: Meyer started 28th and took his first lead on Lap 89. Outside of a pit stop cycle, he led 96 of the final 112 laps.
How the voters saw it: The 1936 Indy 500 drew steady but unspectacular support: While the race appeared only more than 60 percent of ballots, only two of its scores were above 80.