Wilbur Shaw

Inducted 1987

Distinguished Service Citation Award 1951

Won the Indianapolis 500 in 1937, 1939 and 1940, becoming the first to win back-to-back races

Reorganized and directed Firestone Tire and Rubber Company’s aviation division during World War II; also developed Firestone’s Channel Tread tire and the self-sealing fuel tank

Led the crusade to restore the Indianapolis speedway following World War II, serving as President and General Manager of the Indianapolis organization from 1946 through 1954

Competition was Wilbur Shaw’s way of life. Growing up in Indianapolis, Shaw idolized the drivers who came to town for the 500 and he dreamed of joining their ranks. At age 24, he got the chance…and came in fourth. Spirited and innovative, he used tactics such as keeping his helmet in the refrigerator to maintain a cool head during a race. In 1931, after limping away from a crash that disabled his own car, he continued the race as a relief driver for another competitor. An injury ended Shaw’s career in 1941, just before World War II temporarily halted the annual races. After the war, Shaw returned to the speedway and was dismayed at the track’s condition. He persuaded Indiana business leader Anton Hulman to finance the restoration and began rebuilding the speedway into one of the world’s top tracks. When a plane crash ended Shaw’s life in 1952, AAA official James H. Lamb wrote: In the racing world, Wilbur Shaw was a champion, and in the universal definition of the sports world, he was a true and great competitor.

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Class of 1987

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