1923- Tommy Milton Becomes the First Multiple 500 Winner

Since the 1960s fans have become used to seeing a driver win the Indianapolis 500 more than once. Rodger Ward, A. J. Foyt,Booby Unser, Al Unser, Sr., Johnny Rutherford, Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser, Jr., Dario Franchitti, and Helio Catroneveshave all won at least twice since 1962. In the early days of the race, multiple winners were rare.

The 500 did not crown its first two time winner until the 11th race 100 years ago this month..It would be another 10 years before the race saw its second double winner.

Tommy Milton won the 1921 500 starting from 20th and led the final 90 laps after Ralph DePalma once again dominated the race but dropped out with mechanial failure. Only 23 cars started the race.

Milton started and finished 24th in 1922. Fuel Tank issues put him out of the race after 44 laps.

In 1923 Milton won the pole and led 128 laps. The race was the most competitive 500 to date with 28 lead changes in a 24 car field.

Tommy Milton in the HCS Miller after his second 500 win.

Milton began racing on dirt tracks near his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1914.He began racing nationally in 1917. In 1919 he won five of the nine championship races. In 1921 Milton won the national championship.

He drove in his last 500 in 1927. His Indianapolis career included four top five and five top 10 finishes.

Milton had no vision in his left eye and limited vision in his right eye. He would fail a driving physical today. Drivers in his day were more concerned with Howdy Wilcox’s diabetes.

In 1936. Milton drove the pace car for the race, ironically won by the race’s second multiple winner, Louis Meyer. It was Meyer’s third win. Milton suggested the winner receive the pace car, and that tradition continues today.

Tommy Milton served the Speedway as Chief Steward from 1949-1957.