Sam Hanks

Driver Sam Hanks in 1943, looking handsome in uniform:

Prior to the war, Hanks had primarily been a midget racer although he had appeared in a couple of Indy races. He had also worked as a “technical representative” for Fred Offenhauser. Once the war started, Hanks joined the ranks of automobile mechanics, designers, builders and racers who used their skills to help America win the war. The author of this particular story put it this way:

“The boys who used to used to roar around a dirt track in midget automobiles taking their lives in their hands everytime they sat behind a steering wheel of the bouncing bantams now are proving their worth to the war effort.”

When this story was written, Hanks had joined the army and was stationed at Wright Field where he was applying his technical knowledge of motors to aircraft engines. When asked about his post-war plans, Hanks replied that his racing equipment was in storage, and that he was heading back to the tracks once the war was over. He did just that and went on to win Indy in 1957. He retired after that win and was Director of Racing at Indy from 1958 to 1979.

Source: Howard, Bob. “Sam Hanks Stationed at Local Field.”Dayton Sunday Journal Herald, 20 June 1943, p. 2.