Tommy Milton was an American race car driver best known as the first two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, The son of a prosperous dairy owner. Despite the lack of sight in one eye, he quickly became an excellent athlete. Early exposure to automobile racing provided an irresistible draw for Tom's fiercely competitive nature. In 1913, he appropriated the family's aging Mercer and spent two years on the county fair circuit as part of Alex Sloan's carefully orchestrated traveling circus. Tom soon began to blow off the show's stars, an act of independence for which he was eventually fired. He then joined the team of Fred and Augie Duesenberg, and after a slow start worked his way up to be their number one driver.
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 prestigious Indianapolis 500. Later that year he suffered severe burns when his car burst into flames during a race at Uniontown, Pennsylvania. 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.
Tommy 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. 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 Indy 500 was in 1927 when he finished eighth.
At the 1936 race, Tommy 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.
Tommy Milton died in 1962 in Mount Clemens, Michigan at the age of sixty-eight.