Ripley Auctions is pleased to present Important Racing Memorabilia, an auction offering personal items from the collections of Wilbur Shaw, the first consecutive race winner of the Indianapolis 500, at 5 p.m. Friday, May 24.
The sale includes the prototype of today’s winning Indy 500 driver’s ring, the Borg Warner plaques Shaw received for each of his three Indy 500 wins, as well as a selection of other trophies and awards, photographs and memorabilia. Also offered will be personal items from Shaw’s office and home, including furniture, cherished collections of guns and knives and other keepsakes.
One truly unique and highly desirable collectible to be offered is the men’s gold ring with an enameled checkered flag, conceived as a gift to Wilbur Shaw from his wife to commemorate his three Indy 500 wins. This special gift to Shaw became the model for the rings that are now world-famous and awarded annually to the winning driver of the Indy 500.
Three Borg Warner trophies to be sold in the sale represent 3 of the first 5 trophies of this type. The 1939 and 1940 trophies represent the first time a driver won consecutive Indy 500 races. Auction records show that only a small number of Borg Warner plaques have previously sold at auction. These other Borg Warner plaques, considered to be of less historic interest, each sold in the range of $30,000 – $50,000.
A sterling silver cup to be offered, which will certainly never be weighed for scrap value, is engraved with the words “Water from Wilbur.” It was introduced in the Indy 500 winner’s circle by then track president, Wilbur Shaw, to the winner of the 1949 race. The tradition of serving water from the cup lasted only a few years before giving way to the beverage currently offered to race winners – milk.
An historic item with direct relation to the founding of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has garnered the attention of 20th century Indianapolis history buffs. In 1940, Wilbur Shaw was awarded the Prest-O-Lite Trophy. This trophy was initially awarded to Bob Burman in 1909, the first year of Indianapolis Motor Speedway racing, by the Presto-O-Lite Company owners Carl G. Fisher and James Allison. The trophy was awarded again in 1910 to Tom Kincaid and over the interim years to drivers leading the Indy 500 at 200 miles or possibly for various other criteria. This was the last year for the Prest-O-Lite trophy presentation and was considered to be retired in Shaw’s possession.
Additional awards include Shaw’s Motorsports Hall of Fame trophy, 5 AAA Championship medals, the first Strauss Award, and Wilbur Shaw’s personal leather jacket bearing the Champion 100 MPH Club embroidered medallion. The “100 MPH Club” was considered to be “the most exclusive club in America.”
Personal memorabilia and gifts including helmets used as prototypes for the first driver helmets; aviation, hunting and fishing mementos; and furniture from Shaw’s offices and homes will also be sold.
Donald Davidson, recognized as the only full-time historian of any motorsports facility in the world, calls Wilbur Shaw “one of the great names in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.” In a promotional video produced by Ripley Auctions for the sale, Donald goes on to answer the question, “who are the most important people in IMS history?” by saying “If Wilbur Shaw isn’t one of the 3 or 4 names you mention, you got it wrong.”
Ripley Auctions owner and principal Dan Ripley has managed auction sales of several highly important collections of motorsports memorabilia. Previous auction clients have included families of Augie and Fred Duesenberg, and Clarence Cagle. A memorable sale was conducted for the family collections of Jigger Sirois with all proceeds donated to Riley Children’s Hospital. Ripley Auctions is the current entity of a 4-generation family business that has ties to Carl G. Fisher and the earliest years of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Important Racing Memorabilia will be a live auction, conducted by catalog. The sale will take place at the historic Indiana Landmarks Center, on the near north side of downtown Indianapolis. A digital catalog will be posted online in advance of the sale. Online bidding, and live audio/video broadcast will be provided by Artfact. Bids will be accepted by absentee and by phone. Registration required in advance.
Ticketed reservations will be required, and are limited.
Auction preview will be day-of-sale. Requests for personal preview prior to sale day will be considered. Please direct all requests for information to Ripley Auctions. No advance auction preview times or information will be provided by Indiana Landmarks Center.
Source: Ripley Auctions, Inside INdiana Business