Tommy Milton

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Tommy Milton
Tommy Milton.jpg
Milton circa 1919
Born (1893-11-14)November 14, 1893
St. Paul, Minnesota
Died July 10, 1962(1962-07-10) (aged 68)
Mount Clemens, Michigan
Cause of death Suicide
Nationality American
Tommy Milton in his race car at the Daytona Beach Road Course in 1920, courtesy of the Florida Photographic Collection

Thomas "Tommy" Milton (November 14, 1893 – July 10, 1962) was an American race car driver best known as the first two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. He was notable for having only one functional eye, a disability that would have disqualified him from competing in modern motorsports.


Milton was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on November 14, 1893. He began his career in racing in 1914, competing on dirt tracks in the Midwestern United States. By 1917, he was competing nationwide, and earned 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 Indianapolis 500. Later that year he suffered severe burns when his car burst into flames during a race at Uniontown, Pennsylvania.[1] He returned to the track the following year to win the Universal Trophy on June 19 before winning the 1920 United States National Driving Championship.

Record at the Indianapolis 500[edit]

Tommy Milton with Barney Oldfield and Louis Chevrolet before the 1921 Indianapolis 500

Milton was a starter in the Indianapolis 500 eight times, earning the pole position once, and finishing in the top five on four occasions. He drove for Duesenberg his first time in 1919 and again the following year when he finished third. In 1921, the twenty-seven-year-old Milton won the celebrated race driving a straight-eight Frontenac built by Louis Chevrolet.[2] In 1922 fuel tank problems forced Milton out of the race after only forty-four laps, but he came back in 1923 driving for the H.C.S. Motor Co. with a Miller 122 and won the race for the second time. His last was the 1927 Indianapolis 500 where he finished eighth.[3]

At the 1936 race, Milton 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. Health problems forced him to retire in 1957.


Milton died in 1962 in Mount Clemens, Michigan, at the age of 68 of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.[4]

Indy 500 results[edit]



  1. ^ Pearce, William. "Duesenberg-Milton Land Speed Record Car". Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "Tommy Milton Wins 500-Mile Race After DePalma Retires. Victory Brings Winner Approximately $28,000 in Prizes. Track Record Remains Unbroken". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. May 31, 1921. Retrieved 2012-10-07. Tommy Milton, world champion speed racer, today piloted an American car to the finish line first in the ninth renewal of the national racing classic the 500-mile dash around the Indianapolis Speedway. 
  3. ^ Associated Press (May 29, 1927). "Milton And 30 Others Qualify For Auto Race. Veteran Driver Does 108.7 Miles an Hour in Indianapolis Test. Fans in Line Now". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-08. The return of Tommy Milton to automobile racing was made certain late tonight, when he qualified an eight-cylinder car of his own design for the annual 500-mile race, to be held Monday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ... 
  4. ^ The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, FL). July 11, 1962.

External links[edit]

  • Tommy Milton – Website of the Ramsey County Historical Society, St Paul MN, with an online exhibit sharing photos of Milton based on an article in the Ramsey County History Quarterly.
  • The Greatest 33

Further reading[edit]

Preceded by
Gaston Chevrolet
Indianapolis 500 Winner
Succeeded by
Jimmy Murphy
Preceded by
Jimmy Murphy
Indianapolis 500 Winner
Succeeded by
Joe Boyer
Lora L. Corum