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Auto Racing Notebook

By
Bruce Martin United Press International

MILWAUKEE -- Emerson Fittipaldi learned a valuable lesson after winning the Indianapolis 500 that many youngsters throughout the world already know -- always drink your milk.

After winning his second Indy 500 last Sunday, Fittipaldi refused to drink the traditional bottle milk in victory lane, opting for a large bottle of orange juice. The native of Sao Paulo, Brazil owns a 500,000- tree orange plantation in Brazil which exports to the United States and he used his victory in the world's greatest race to get in a free plug for his product.

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After the cameras went off, Fittipaldi eventually took a swig of milk, but the public relations damage had already been done.

'I drank the milk, but I also drank the orange juice I produce,' Fittipaldi said afterwards.

The American Dairy Association and the Indiana Dairy Farmers have been part of the Indy 500 tradition of giving the winner of the race a bottle of milk since 1933. That's when three-time winner Louis Meyer requested a cold glass of buttermilk following his victory. Ever since, each winner has been handed a bottle of milk upon entering victory lane.

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For his disobience of the Indy 500 tradition, Fittipaldi did not receive his 'milk money' and was docked $5,000 from his winner's check of $1,155,304 during the Victory Dinner last Monday night. That is the amount of money the American Dairy Association (ADA) contributes to the winner, along with $500 to the winning chief mechanic.

On Tuesday, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George met with Fittipaldi, who agreed to publicly apologize to the ADA and the Indiana Diary Farmers for not drinking his milk. Fittipalid also agreed to contribute $5,000 to the Speedway Benevolent Fund.

The moral to this story is always drink your milk at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But if Fittipaldi wins Sunday's IndyCar race at the Milwaukee Mile, he better put his orange juice away and drink the sponsor's product. After all, the race is the Miller Genuine Draft 200.NEWLN: ------

MORE MANSELL MANIA: Nigel Mansell's spectacular performance in his first Indianapolis 500 has earned the reigning Formula One champion praise in his native Great Britain, and throughout the world.

'Magical Mansell' was the headline in Monday's Daily Express in London when Mansell finished third after relinquishing the lead on a restart just 16 laps from the finish.

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According to the Daily Star, Mansell's performance in the race won the British native, 'a place in the hearts of Americans that few foreigners have ever achieved.'

Another British newspaper, the Guardian, said Mansell's critics should, 'help themselves to a piece of humble pie.'

Mansell's third-place finish earned him a unanimous the Bank One Rookie of the Year award and has enticed the F-1 defending champion to consider next year's race, if he does not return to Formula One. Mansell's contract with the Newman-Haas Racing Team is only for this season.

'If I have a good ride, I would certainly like to come back and try and win again,' Mansell said. 'I'm relieved, completely relieved. Whether you are a world champion or not, to come to a superspeedway of this nature, to be at your first oval, at your first event, I don't feel bad at all winning it (the award).

'It's a compliment. I think it's a great achievement for anybody and I think the gesture of doing something like that is very, very important.

'An enormous amount of people have said kind things, and it must makes me proud I've been part of this great event.'NEWLN: ------

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INTERESTED SPECTATOR: Michael Andretti, the 1991 PPG Indy Car World Series Champion who left the series at the end of last season to compete in Formula One for Marlboro McLaren, witnessed the Indianapolis 500 from a VIP suite at the Speedway.

'It's a strange feeling being here and not suiting up,' said Andretti, the son of Mario Andretti and a competitor in nine Indy 500s.

Andretti has had a rough introduction to Formula One racing, scoring a season-best fifth-place finish for his only finish in the points so far this season.

'It's coming along,' Andretti said of his F-1 team. 'I have a big learning curve. Every time I go out I learn something more. I was lucky to get some laps the last two races. Monaco was tough. We lost a day to rain and in F-1, you don't get much practice time as it is.

'What's funny, the one race I finished in the points I had poor handling. The first three races the car was good and I think I had a good change for the podium (top three), but I didn't finish.'

Andretti also admitted to suffering from some racing culture shock.

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'F-1 is different,' said Andretti. 'You don't have any real contact with the fans. You are so confined you can't get a feel for the fan. The fans can't get to the drivers. I get along fine with the other drivers. It's very similar to here. They myth is it's the same on both sides of the ocean.'NEWLN: ------

LOOSE LUG NUTS: NASCAR Winston Cup driver Kyle Petty and his SABCO Racing Team have signed an agreement with the Coca-Cola Company for sponsorship through the year 2,000. Petty's Pontiac Grand Prix is sponsored by Mello Yello, a soft drink brand for Coca-Cola. The six-year deal is one of the longest ever in NASCAR. ... IndyCar has expressed an interest in testing under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway following NASCAR Winston Cup's successful runs at night on the 1.5-mile track. An IndyCar race has never been held at CMS, which is considered the showcase facility in NASCAR Winston Cup racing.

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