Thomas Wyatt Binford
Summer Lake Residents Prominent in 500-Mile Race Activities
Three Lake Maxinkuckee summer residents were might prominent in the Memorial
Day 500-mile race at Indianapolis.
Thomas W. Binford, 1880 East Shore Drive, is president of the United State Auto
Club which regulates the annual sports classic
Arthur B Lathrop,
1530 East SHore Drive, is the principal member of Racing associated, owner of the
ccar driven so wonderfully by Johnny Thomson who finished third
William R. Kraftt,
890 South Shore Drive, is the owner of Monoarch Buick Co. of Indianapolis, which
provided th snappy Buick pace car - 3 Jan 1959 - citizen
Thomas Wyatt Binford (1924-1999) was an Indianapolis-based entrepreneur and philanthropist. One of
Indianapolis' most influential men, Thomas W. Binford was a pioneer, visionary and civil rights
leader. He participated in civic, philanthropic, c ultural and political aspects of the city and
state and was valued for his sensitivity, wise counsel, personal and financial support, and
sincerity. In addition to his many personal interests, Binford spearheaded a group to buy the
Indiana Pacers basketball team in 1975 and served as its president and general manager for one year.
From 1974-1995, Binford served as the Chief Steward of the Indianapolis 500, presiding over its
transition from United States Auto Club to Indy Racing League governance.
Binford attended Princeton University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He was interim
president of DePauw University in 1975-76. He eventually became president and CEO of Indiana National
Bank. He was instrumental in bringing the Colts to Indianapolis. His greatest contribution was creating
an environment in the city of Indianapolis where issues of civil rights and race could be discussed
productively and without rancor. A street in downtown Indianapolis was renamed Binford Blvd. in his
Thomas W. Binford Appointed Acting President of DePauw
November 5, 1975, Greencastle, Ind. - DePauw University's Board of Trustees today appointed Thomas W.
Binford as acting president of the University, effective December 1. Binford will lead the University
while a search is conducted for a new president to succeed William E. Kerstetter. The president of
DePauw since 1963, Dr. Kerstetter was appointed president and chancellor of the University October 1
and since that time has been serving as both president and chancellor.
A native of Indianapolis, the 51-year-old Binford graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University in
1948. He has been involved in higher education at many levels and in many capacities. He is serving
presently as chairman of the board of trustees of Rose-H ulman Institute of Technology and as a trustee
of Christian Theological Seminary. He is also a director of the National Conference of Christians and
Jews, the National Municipal League, and is past president of the Indianapolis Urban League.
Tom Binford is chairman of the board of the D.A. Lubricant Company in Indianapolis, and is a director of
the Indiana National Corporation, Indiana National Bank, the Jefferson Corporation, the Jefferson National
Life Insurance Company, Bio-Dynamics Corporation, the Ransburg Corporation, and the Indianapolis Water
Company. He is also past president of the United States Auto Club, current chief steward of the Indianapolis
500, and president of the Indiana Pacers professional basketball team.
DePauw University's Lastest News
To benefit the endowment fund of the Pacers Foundation, Inc.
Thomas W. Binford Friend of the Foundation Memorial Wall
Thomas W. Binford a charter board member of the Pacers Foundation passed away in January 1999 at the age of
74. Binford was an exemplary individual who worked tirelessly during his lifetime in the service of others.
One of Indianapolis' most influential men, Thomas W. Binford was a pioneer, visionary and civil rights leader.
He participated in civic, philanthropic, cultural and political aspects of the city and state and was valued
for his sensitivity, wise counsel, personal and financial support, and sincerity. In addition to his many
personal interests, Binford spearheaded a group to buy the Pacers' basketball team in 1975 and served as its
president and general manager for one year.
Because of Binford's exceptional character and contributions, the Pacers Foundation named a memorial in his
honor. The Thomas W. Binford Friends of the Foundation Memorial Wall is located between The Indianapolis
Star and Clarian Health Pavilions on the Main Concourse of Conseco Fieldhouse. Binford was an integral
influence of this initial effort to raise funds for the Pacers Foundation endowment, and showed great
enthusiasm for its potential to provide important services to Indiana youth into perpetuity.....
||Birth: Apr. 6, 1924 |
Death: Jan. 14, 1999
Pioneering civil rights leader, successful businessman and longtime fixture at the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. For decades, Binford was one of Indianapolis' most influential men, serving as a founder and
leader of myriad business, sports and civic institutions. He was cofounder of the Urban League of
Indianapolis, chief steward of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the former head of Indiana
|Burial: Crown Hill Cemetery Indianapolis Marion County Indiana, USA Plot: Section 61,
USAC: Thomas W. Binford, Former USAC President, Dies at 74
Indianapolis civic leader Thomas W. Binford, who served in many posts during his United States Auto Club
affiliation, including president from 1957-1969, has succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 74.
Mr. Binford, a founding member of USAC and a Director for the past four decades, attended Friday night's
43rd USAC National Awards Dinner in Indianapolis and was currently serving as a Vice Chairman of the USAC
Board of Directors.
In 1974 he was named Chief Steward for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and continued in that post until 1995.
A member of USAC's Executive Committee, he also served as Chairman of the Championship Division Competition
Commission for more than two decades.
A past president of ACCUS-FIA, a former U.S. delegate to the FIA and a director of both ACCUS and FIA, he
was also a former Chairman of the Indiana National Bank and served on the Board of numerous Indiana
"It is with deep sadness that the USAC family receives this news," said USAC President Johnny Capels. "Mr.
Binford's leadership helped guide our organization through its formative years and his insight into our
sport will be irreplaceable. His enthusiasm will be sorely missed. We extend our condolences to his wife
Kai, his family and his countless friends." - The Auto Channel 15 January 1999
Former Indy 500 Steward Binford Remembered As Racing Giant
Former Indianapolis 500 Chief Steward Thomas W. Binford, who steered open-wheel auto racing through some of
its most glorious and perilous times, died Jan. 14 in Indianapolis.
Binford succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 74.
Binford served as chief steward of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race from 1974 through 1995, longer than any
"Tom Binford has been recognized as one of racing's most highly respected leaders for four decades,"
Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George said.
"His unique leadership was recognized by my grandfather, Anton H ulman Jr., and the two worked closely
together in building our type of racing, as we know it today. Mr. Binford was a great help to me in starting
the Indy Racing League, and we will all miss the wise advice and counsel he brought to our sport.
"We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Kai, his family and many friends throughout the world."
Binford was named commissioner when George formed the Indy Racing League.
However, Binford's involvement in Indy-type racing goes back to the 1950s. He was one of the founders of the
United States Auto Club in 1955, after the AAA removed itself from the sport, and served as USAC's president
from 1957 through 1969. He has been a director throughout the organization's existence.
"It is with deep sadness that the USAC family receives this news," USAC President Johnny Capels said. "Mr.
Binford's leadership helped guide our organization through its formative years, and his insight into our
sport will be irreplaceable. His enthusiasm will be sorely missed."
Four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt had many encounters with Binford over his 35-year career, but each had
true regard for the other.
"He was a very good friend," Foyt said from his Houston home. "He did a lot of good for racing and always
had good ideas. He was a fine gentleman, a true sportsman, very honest. I respected him highly. It's a shame
to hear of his passing."
Reigning Indy 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. remembered Binford as a "great guy."
Though he first came to the Speedway as a rookie in 1990, Cheever said it wasn't until 1992 that he had an
opportunity to spend one-on-one time with Binford. It came after the race when Cheever was docked a lap for
passing under yellow.
"I went into his office and spent two hours debating," Cheever said. "He was willing to listen and he
changed the decision, for which I was very grateful. He was a gentleman and strong at the helm when he
controlled the Indianapolis 500."
Binford, who attended the USAC awards banquet Jan. 8, is most recognized by racing fans around the world for
his role as the calm and collected chief steward of the "500" in three different decades.
He assumed the position from Harlan Fengler in 1974 when the Speedway faced one of its stiffest public
relations situations. The previous year's "500" had been plagued by rain delays and crashes, and editorial
comment around the world had been severely critical.
In addition, this was at the height of the mid-1970s energy crunch, and the Speedway had condensed the
normal two weekends of qualifying into one. A safe month and a pop ular winner in handsome Texan Johnny
Rutherford turned the negative publicity into positive in 1974.
"I knew he was going to make it when Al Unser and I lost engines in practice on the morning of the first day
of qualifying," recalled Rutherford, a three-time Indy champion and now working on special projects for the
Indy Racing League.
"We arrived at Tom at the same instant. Tom interpreted the r ule of where we should be in line differently
than Harlan. We rolled our cars out after record-setting engine changes expecting to get our spots in line,
but we were told we had had to be in line to qualify. We were told to go to the end of the line, to the
"After what Al and I said to him I knew when he was still there the next year, he was going to make it."
Rutherford termed Binford as a real gentleman who didn't "stampede" quickly. He added that as a driver you
approach him and he would listen to both your complaints and recommendations.
Binford was in command when Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears all became four-time Indy winners, as well as when
Arie Luyendyk averaged 185.981 mph, fastest in history, to win the 1990 race.
Also during his tenure as chief steward, Binford made two decisions affecting the race winner that received
In 1981, Binford changed the winner from Bobby Unser to Mario Andretti after an all-night review of the
racing tapes indicated Unser had violated the blending rule while exiting the pits, passing several cars
under yellow in the process.
In those days, the official finish wasn't posted until 9 a.m. the day after the race. The media, including
television, had reported around the world that Unser won. The next day was the Memorial Day holiday, and all
afternoon news outlets had truncated deadlines that provided little time for the necessary complete makeovers.
Binford stood by his ruling as USAC denied the appeal of car owner Roger Penske. The case then went to a
hearing ruled over by three judges, who reversed Binford's decision and returned the victory to Unser by a
2-1 count the following October.
Then, in 1995, Binford's final ruling again denied victory to the driver who crossed the finish line first.
And this time it stuck.
Scott Goodyear, leading the race during a late yellow, accelerated in the north chute anticipating a green
and at the head of the front stretch passed the Pace Car pulling toward the pits.
Goodyear was black-flagged -- he had to report to the pits for a penalty stop before continuing the race --
and he ignored it. He continued on to charge across the finish line first. However, his scoring had been
discontinued, and he was placed 14th. Jacques Villeneuve then was given the checkered flag.
"I felt it was time for me to step down as chief steward of the '500' and make way for new leadership," he
said about his departure later that year. "After all, I have served in the position longer than any of my
"But retirement? I am not ready for that. The Indy Racing League presents the perfect opportunity for me to
Binford not only served with the Speedway and USAC, but he also acted as president of ACCUS (Automobile
Competition Committee for the United States) for eight years. He served as a delegate to the FIA and was
a director for both organizations.
Binford also was a director the 500 Oldtimers Club.
Born in Indianapolis on April 6, 1924, he served in the Army during World War II and was a Phi Beta Kappa
graduate of Princeton University in 1948. He earned a law degree from Indiana University six years later.
He worked for his family-owned businesses, Binford Lumber and D.A. Lubricant, and was chairman of Binford
& Associates at the time of his death.
He was one of the city's most influential men, serving on the boards of many companies. He was a founder of
the Urban League,president of a local bank and for two years was acting president of DePauw University. He
was a strong backer of the Indiana Pacers pro basketball team and helped the team p ull through some
diffic ult times and move into the NBA.
Survivors include wife, Kai; children, Wilson C. Binford, Florence W. Kichler; stepchildren Linda Kai Miller,
Bryan Irwin; sister Virginia Binford Turner, and five grandchildren.
Services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 19 in Second Presbyterian Church, with burial at Crown Hill Cemetery.
Calling hours will be from 3-8 p.m. Jan. 18 at Scottish Rite Cathedral just north of Indianapolis' Monument
Circle. Leppert & Hensley Mortuary is handling arrangements. Memorial donations may be made to a favorite
charity. - - ims. brickyard. com