Tommy Milton  United States

  • Full name Tommy Milton
  • Birth date November 14, 1893
  • Birthplace St Paul, Minnesota, United States
  • Date of death July 10, 1962 (68 years 238 days)
  • Place of death Mount Clemens, Michigan, United States
driver portrait

Tommy Milton etched his name in the record books as the first two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and was one of the leading US drivers of the period immediately after World War One. He also broke the Land Speed Record in 1920. What made his achievements all the more remarkable was that he was blind in his left eye and had restricted vision in his right, the reason for him being turned down for military service.

He started out driving in a circus act before he turned to racing on dirt tracks in the mid west, and by 1917 he was competing all over the country, recording his first major win at a track in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1919, he was one of the dominant figures in American racing, winning five of the nine championship races including the "International Sweepstakes" at Sheepshead Bay, New York, and making his debut at the prestigious Indianapolis 500. Later that year he suffered severe burns when his car burst into flames during a race at Uniontown, Pennsylvania. While convalescing he worked on building a radical twin-engined car, on April 27, 1920, he broke Ralph DePalma's land speed record by recording 156.046 mph at Daytona Beach. He returned to the track the following year to win the Universal Trophy Race on June 19th en route to capturing the 1920 United States National Driving Championship.

In 1920 he had finished third at the Indianapolis 500, and in 1921 he drove a straight-eight Frontenac built by Louis Chevrolet to victory. In 1922 fuel tank problems forced him out of the race after only 44 laps, but he came back in 1923 driving for the H.C.S. Motor Co. with a Miller 122 and won for the second time. His last Indy 500 was in 1927 when he finished eighth.

At the 1936 race, he returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to drive the Packard 120 Pace Car. At his suggestion, the tradition of giving the race winner the Pace Car began that year. In 1949 Milton was appointed chief steward for the Indianapolis 500 but health problems forced him to retire in 1957. After a long illness he committed suicide in 1962.

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