The 103rd Indianapolis 500 event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 26, 2019, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. The legendary event has been the premier event for American open wheel racing for decades with roots deeply imbedded in dirt track racing. To honor this heritage, we plan on counting down the top 20 dirt track racers that have won the Indianapolis 500.
Today we profile Warren Wilbur Shaw at #15. It may seem odd to have Shaw on a list of dirt track racers, but the driver was actually a prolific dirt track driver in the 1920s and 1930s. Shaw focused on smaller dirt track cars prior to the introduction of midgets into oval track racing. He won the National Light Car Championship in 1923, racing a Roscoe Dunning owned car. Dunning was a master car builder and mechanic who had built his name around the Indianapolis 500 and midwest outlaw races on dirt tracks.
It could be said that Shaw, along with drivers like Dutch Bauman, Louie Schneider, and Howdy Wilcox were the first outlaw racers. Shaw barnstormed across the nation, but he dominated the Indiana bullring tracks near his birthplace of Shelbyville, Indiana.
He moved west in the 1930s, racing in California to improve his reputation as a driver to seek one of the really good rides available. In the mid-1930s, Shaw begin to curtail his dirt track racing to focus on the Indianapolis 500. He won the great race in 1937, 1939, and 1940, before the race was put on hold for the war effort after the 1941 race.
Shaw was appointed President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he performed the tasks until his tragic death in an aircraft crash in 1954.