Anton Hulman Jr., commonly known as Tony, was the grandson of German immigrants who established a wholesale grocery firm in Terre Haute, Indiana. Hulman was a star athlete at Yale University in both football and track and field. He joined the family business after graduating with a degree in business and is given much credit for the eventual success of Hulman & Company’s Clabber Girl Baking Powder. By 1945, the Speedway had suffered four years of total neglect during World War II, and was slated to become a housing development. Hulman saved the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by purchasing it from Eddie Rickenbacker on November 14, 1945. With three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Wilbur Shaw installed as President and General Manager, Hulman immediately began the enormous task of resurrecting the beloved facility for a revival of the Indianapolis 500 race in 1946.
From the outset, he pledged that any annual profits would be reinvested in the track for renovation and improvements. He assumed the presidency of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after Shaw died in a plane crash in 1954. Hulman helped form the United States Auto Club to replace the departing American Automobile Association Contest Board as an auto racing sanctioning body in the fall of 1955, and established the Speedway Museum on a non-profit basis in 1956. He also revived the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1962, bringing it to Indianapolis from Detroit, Michigan. Indianapolis 500 prize money, which for many years was a basic $60,000 plus lap and accessory prizes, ballooned under Hulman’s stewardship from $115,450 in 1946, to almost $2 million by the time he passed away on October 27, 1977.
Courtesy of Indianapolis Motors Speedway Museum