Tommy Milton, a St. Paul native, has been called the greatest race driver of the first half of the 20th century.

Milton, the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 race twice, began his racing career on dirt tracks in the Midwest in 1914. His first major victory came in September of 1917 when he a 100-mile race in Providence, R.I.

He made his Indianapolis 500 debut in 1919, finishing 25th in the race. Still, 1919 was a successful year for him, with victories in five races.

In 1920, he finished third at the Indianapolis 500 and won the United States National Driving Championship.

Milton won the Indianapolis 500 in 1921 with an average speed of 89.62 miles-per-hour. Only eight of the 23 drivers who started the race finished. For the year, he earned the overall AAA Driving Title.

In 1922, he was unable to finish the race after a gas tank issue sidelined him in the 44th lap.

His second Indianapolis 500 victory came in 1923. In qualifying for the race, he earned the pole position with an average speed of 108.17 mph.

After retiring from racing in 1925, he returned to the race each year, driving the pace car on several occasions. He served as the chief steward at the race from 1949 to 1953.

According to the Indianapolis Star newspaper, Milton was rated the greatest driver by one Indianapolis 500 official because he "constantly outthought and outmaneuvered his rivals."

Milton was named to the Racing Hall of Fame in 1955.


Class: 1958.

Sport: Auto racing.