INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi said Tuesday he regrets any misunderstanding over his selection of orange juice instead of milk as his first thirst-quencher following Sunday's race.
Since 1933, most winners of the 500 have traditionally taken a swig of milk in Victory Lane -- until this year, that is.
Fittipaldi opted for a drink of orange juice, but later took a swallow of milk to keep the tradition alive.
'I am a Brazilian orange juice producer,' he said in a statement released by the American Dairy Association, 'and for many years I have been toasting my racing victories with orange juice. At the Indianapolis 500 this year, I drank the milk after I had a little orange juice.
'I deeply regret the misunderstanding and inconvenience I caused for the American Dairy Association and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.'
Fittipaldi said Team Penske would donate the $5,500 prize money posted by the dairy group to the Championship Auto Racing Auxiliary to support its various charities.
Myrna Metzger of the American Dairy Association said the drink of milk in Victory Lane is a tradition, not a sponsorship.
'Indiana dairy farmers cannot afford to buy their way into Victory Lane,' she said. 'We are, however, extremely proud of this tradition.'