Peterson, IN Private Plane Crash, Oct 1954

Wilbur Shaw in Indy Car.jpg Wilbur Shaw Grave.jpg



(AP) -- WILBUR SHAW, 52, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and three-time winner of the 500-mile race, and two companions were killed in a plane crash near here late today.
The light plane exploded and crashed in a field as a farmer watched nearby. State police and Sheriff ROBERT W. SHRALUKA said the bodies were ground to bits in the wreckage.
SHAW was identified by a credit card and a private pilot's license. The pilot of the plane was identified as RAY GRIMES, 40, Greenfield, Ind.
At Detroit, where the men had gone to take part in a car test, the third man in the plane was identified as ERNEST ROOSE, Indianapolis businessman and artist.
A representative of an advertising firm -- McCann-Erickson -- said SHAW, GRIMES and ROOSE were in Detroit today testing a new Chrysler car on the Chrysler proving grounds.
SHAW flew the plane to Detroit and ROOSE was to have flown it back, the advertising man said. The plane left Ann Arbor Airport at 4 p.m.
ROOSE, 41, was the artist who painted the portrait of the 500-mile race winner each year.
State police said the plane exploded on striking the ground on a farm near Peterson, five miles southwest of Decatur.
HOMER GINTER, owner of the farm, who was working on his tractor, said he heard a roar, looked up and saw the plane in pieces, 20 to 30 feet from the ground.
The plane, a Cessna, was owned by the Muncie Aviation Corp. GORDON LACKEY, manager of Sky Harbor Airport at Indianapolis, said the plane with three men left Indianapolis at 9:05 a.m. for Detroit. It presumably was returning to Indianapolis at the time of the crash.
SHAW won the big race at Indianapolis in 1937, 1939 and 1940.
World War II ended his career as a driver, but when ANTON HULMAN, JR., of Terre Haute, Ind., bought the big two-and-one-half-mile track at the west edge of Indianapolis in 1945 he gave SHAW the job of running it.
The track was full of holes and the grandstand was going to pieces. Cynics said auto racing was an anachronism in a day of supersonic air speeds. But under SHAW'S direction the Memorial Day event boomed again, drawing crowds estimated at more than 150,000.
Besides his three victories, SHAW finished second in the "500" in 1933, 1935 and 1938, fourth in 1927 and seventh in 1936.
He was the leading money winner at the track, with a total of $91,300 in winnings, until Bill Vukovich won his second straight victory last May 31.
SHAW survived several racing accidents and a severe heart attack. In 1941, in his last Memorial Day race, he hit the wall and spent the summer in a cast with three smashed vertebrae. In 1923 he suffered a skull fracture at Paris, III., and he broke some ribs in two crackups at Ascot, Calif.
The heart attack felled him in 1951 as he ran up a hill at the Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio. He was in critical condition for several days but made it back to his office before the 1952 race.
He was married and had one son, WARREN WILBUR SHAW, JR.
Only a few weeks ago, SHAW asserted he would be willing to drive the powerful Novi Special in an attempt on a new closed course record at Chrysler's proving ground track at Chelsea, Mich. This was the car in which noted drivers RALPH HEPBURN and CHET MILLER were killed -- but SHAW wasn't afraid of anything.
He told a newsman recently:
"Auto race drivers are like boxers, or pit bull dogs. Once one gives ground to another, the other fellow will be the boss forever after that. I never was about to back off and let somebody pass me in a jam."
A fierce, cocky little guy in his early days, he set out deliberately to polish himself and he did it with the thoroughness he used grooming a race car. He bacame a popular after-dinner speaker, one of the most effective story tellers in the country, and a suave host in the restaurant he opened a year ago in downtown Indianapolis.

Salina Journal Kansas 1954-10-31