Tom Binford

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Thomas Wyatt Wilson Binford
Born(1924-04-06)April 6, 1924
DiedJanuary 14, 1999(1999-01-14) (aged 74)
Alma materPrinceton University
OccupationEntrepreneur and philanthropist
Known forActing President of Depauw University (1975-76)
Chairman and CEO of Indiana National Corporation (1976–1981)

Thomas Wyatt Wilson Binford (April 6, 1924 – January 14, 1999)[2] was an Indianapolis-based entrepreneur and philanthropist. One of Indianapolis' most influential men, Thomas W. Binford was a pioneer, visionary and civil rights leader. He participated in civic, philanthropic, cultural and political aspects of the city and state and was valued for his sensitivity, wise counsel, personal and financial support, and sincerity. In addition to his many personal interests, Binford spearheaded a group to buy the Indiana Pacers basketball team in 1975 and served as its president and general manager for one year. From 1974-1995, Binford served as the Chief Steward of the Indianapolis 500, presiding over its transition from United States Auto Club to Indy Racing League governance.


Binford attended Princeton University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He was interim president of DePauw University in 1975-76.[3] Although he did not have any prior banking experience, Binford was elected chairman and chief executive officer of Indiana National Corporation, the holding company for the largest bank in the state of Indiana, from 1976 to 1981, turning the company around after the company lost money during the 1973–75 recession.[4] He was instrumental in bringing the Colts to Indianapolis. His greatest contribution was creating an environment in the city of Indianapolis where issues of civil rights and race could be discussed productively and without rancor. A street in northeastern Indianapolis was renamed Binford Boulevard in his honor.

Binford began serving as chief steward during the 1973 Indianapolis 500. His most notable races includes the 1981 Indianapolis 500 and the 1995 Indianapolis 500. Binford penalized Bobby Unser one lap for illegal passes under a caution in 1981. His penalty was overruled by a USAC appeals board 5 months later. In 1995 Binford penalized Jacques Villeneuve early in the race, for a restart violation & later gave a stop-and-go penalty for Scott Goodyear after Goodyear passed the pace-car on the final restart. The 1995 race was his last one as chief steward before retiring in 1996.

Binford was the inspiration for Binford Tools, the name of the brand of tools on the Tool Time show-within-a-show on the Tim Allen TV series Home Improvement.[citation needed]

Binford suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage while he was at his office in Indianapolis and later died at Methodist Hospital.[5] He is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.[6]


  1. ^ Mcdill, Kent (May 11, 1983). "Tom Binford is a busy man who somehow finds..." United Press International.
  2. ^ The National Cyclopedia of American Biography: Current volume. J.T. White. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  3. ^ "Thomas W. Binford Appointed Acting President of DePauw". DePauw University. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  4. ^ McNamee, Mike (April 16, 1981). "With the job done, Binford steps down". Indianapolis Star. p. 54 – via (Subscription required (help)). After five tumultuous years, Thomas W. Binford is ready for a change. "There's time to step up, and a time to step down," the chairman of Indiana National Corp. said Wednesday. "Five years ago, it was time to step up and do something. Now, it's done." What Binford did was help Indiana National turn itself around. The holding company, owner of Indiana's oldest and second largest bank, was foundering in 1976 when Binford was asked to take off his academic robes and become INB's chairman. Although he had no professional banking experience, he had what one outside expert called "a case study in turnaround management." Throughout those five years, Binford maintained that his goal was to build up Indiana National's management, to set the company on a firm footing and "to work myself out of a job."
  5. ^ Siano, Joseph (January 17, 1999). "Thomas Binford, 74, Executive Who Guided Indianapolis 500". New York Times.
  6. ^ "Indianapolis Auto greats" (PDF). Celebrating Automotive Heritage at Crown Hill Cemetery. Crown Hill Cemetery. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 13, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.

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