Interesting Historical Facts
Anton "Tony" Hulman, Jr. (February 11, 1901 - October 27, 1977) was a businessman from Terre Haute, Indiana who rescued the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945 and made the Indianapolis 500 popular.
Through clever advertising in the 1930s, Hulman popularized his firm's chief product, Clabber Girl Baking Powder.
Born into one of Terre Haute's wealthiest families, young Tony was raised in one of the city's finest homes and seemed destined to enter the family business, Hulman & Company.
He was educated at St. Benedict's School at Terre Haute, Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and Worcester Academy in Massachusetts. A stellar athlete with a trim physique, Tony excelled in the high hurdles and the pole vault at Worcester.
He served with the American Red Cross Ambulance Corps during World War I at the age of 17.
Upon graduation from Yale's Sheffield Scientific School in 1924, the young Hulman returned to Terre Haute to take his place in the family business, a place he would have to earn. His father, Anton Hulman, Sr., instructed the people of Hulman & Co., "Don't give Tony a place in the business. Let him work for it."
By 1926, Tony was the company's sales manager, and by 1931, at the age of 30, management of the whole company passed from father to son.
Making Clabber Girl a household name. Never one to rest on his laurels, and never satisfied with the status quo, Tony's first project was the Clabber Girl ad campaign, which he instigated as a ten-year plan to take the company's top product to national prominence.
Salesmen crisscrossed the country, nailing signs to roadside posts and going to individual homes across the country, invariably inviting the lady of each house to try Clabber Girl. It worked, and despite the deepening Great Depression, Clabber Girl sales continued to climb. Even today, more than 70 years after the first ads of the campaign saw the light of day, Clabber Girl is a top-selling baking powder (if not the top seller) in the U.S.
One remnant of Tony's original sales push, a well-known billboard, is still visible along U.S. Highway 40 east of Terre Haute. It reads, "Five Minutes to Terre Haute, Home Of Clabber Girl Baking Powder," and has a clock at the top. It is considered a landmark in the area.
Among Wilbur Shaw's many associates was an investment broker named Homer Cochran, about whom little is known. A very quiet and private individual, Cochran had a longtime interest in racing and briefly tried dirt-track racing himself. Cochran had been telling Shaw for quite some time of a gentleman in Terre Haute, Ind., with whom he had been involved in several deals. That gentleman was Anton Hulman Jr.
Hulman is probably best known for buying the dilapidated Indianapolis Motor Speedway from a group led by World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker immediately after World War II. Influenced by three-time Indy 500 winner Wilbur Shaw (who became the track's president in the early years of the Hulman regime), Hulman made numerous improvements to the track in time for the race to be held in 1946.