Ramsey County History – Winter 2008: “Tommy Milton: The Story of ‘St. Paul’s Speed King’”

Steven C. Trimble 

Tommy Milton: The Story of “St. Paul’s Speed King”
Author: Steven C. Trimble 

While he is rarely remembered except by sports historians, “St. Paul’s Speed King,” Tommy Milton (1893–1962) was one of the most prominent race car drivers in America during the early years of the twentieth century. He was the first person to win the Indianapolis 500 twice. Milton lived with his family on Dayton Avenue and attended Mechanic Arts High School. He became fascinated with racing first with motorcycles and then, around 1913, turned to automobiles. He toured with a barnstorming show, then worked with the Duisenberg Company. About this time, he met Jimmy Murphy, who was his mechanic and then a racer himself. The two men formed a strong friendship until they had a major fight that turned into a long feud. Milton’s first surprising win was at the 1921 Indianapolis race. He won the race again in 1923. In 1924, his old friend Jimmy Murphy died in a crash, and Milton‘s grief was deep. He soon decided to quit racing, but Milton remained in the world of cars, worked for the Packard Company, and was the chief steward for the Indianapolis event. Milton died of self-inflicted gunshots in 1962.
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