Sam Hanks

SAM HANKS was an outstanding driver in three divisions of racing over a period of many years. He won the American Automobile Association National Driving title in 1953 and placed among the top ten in the final driving title standings on four other occasions. During his 1953 championship season, he started in 11 races, won at DuQuoin, Illinois, and Springfield, Illinois, and finished fifth or better in all but two of the other nine races. He drove in 12 Indianapolis 500 races, finishing second once (1956) and third twice (1952 and 1953) before leading the field home in 1957. The National Midget Champion in 1949, Hanks also won the Pacific Coast Stock Car title in 1956. Hanks won seven major races from 1953 through 1957, was runner-up for the National Stock Car title in 1954, and finished third in 1957. He announced his planned retirement as an active driver in Victory Lane at Indianapolis immediately after winning the 1957 Indianapolis 500 race at a record speed of 135.601 miles per hour (an increase of almost five miles per hour over previous winning speeds). He finished the race season with a series of stock car races before fully retiring at the end of the season. Extending his career in motorsports, he became a respected spokesman for the sport. He served as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Director of Racing for several years and drove the pace car at Indianapolis 500 races from 1958 through 1963.

Year Inducted: 1981