Wilbur Shaw is one of the most important people in the history of American auto racing, not only for his accomplishments on the race track, but also because he convinced Terre Haute businessman Anton Hulman, Jr. to purchase the severely dilapidated Indianapolis Motor Speedway and save it from extinction. Shaw won Indianapolis 500 races in 1937, 1939, and 1940, duplicating Louis Meyer’s three Indianapolis 500 triumphs, and becoming the first driver to win consecutive Indianapolis races.
He also finished second three times (1933, 1935, and 1938) and was the race leader at some stage of seven of the 14 Indianapolis 500 races in which he participated. Shaw appeared on his way to a fourth win (and third in succession) in 1941 when a wire wheel collapsed while he was leading at the three-quarter distance. His career total of 508 laps led at Indianapolis remains fifth on the all-time list through 2015. He was the National Driving Champion twice, in 1937 and 1939. After convincing Anton Hulman Jr. to purchase the track, Shaw served as its President and General Manager until his death in a private aircraft accident near Decatur, Indiana, on October 30, 1954.
Courtesy of Indianapolis Motors Speedway Museum