(1902 – 1953)
Born July 19, 1902, in Detroit, Michigan, Chet Miller (Clarence Miller) ran his first race at Saginaw, Michigan when he was 22 years old in 1924. Miller earned his nickname, “Dean of the Speedway,” with his persistent attempts to win the Indianapolis 500. Miller drove over 5,000 miles at Indianapolis without leading a lap, an all-time record. Chet made 19 attempts at the Indy 500.
Chet Miller raced at the Indy 500 for the first time in 1928 with a Miller 91. A qualifying accident prevented him from getting in the race that year. 1930 found Miller driving a Fronty Ford finished 13th. He was back in 1931 in a Hudson. Needing relief during the race, he recorded a 10th place finish. In 1932, an engine problem forced him out after 125 laps and the following year, he turned the car over to Shorty Cantlon to drive relief but a broken rod put them out of the race.
In 1934 he was driving the Bohnalite Ford, but after just 11 laps, he crashed going over the southwest wall. 1935 found Chet in a front drive Miller starting 17th and finishing 10th. The next year, the car was equipped with a new 255 cubic inch Miller/Offy engine. Chet qualified 3rd and came home in fifth. In 1937, Miller dropped out of the race on lap 36 when the magneto died. Chet drove in relief for Bill Cummings and finished 6th.
1938 saw Miller get his best finish in the Indy 500 when he took 3rd. The following year, 1939, saw a big accident occur coming out of turn two and Miller was unable to avoid the crash and it took him out of the race, seriously injuring him. 1940 found Chet in an Alfa Romeo that got him to 17th place. In the last Indy 500 before WWII halted racing till 1946, Miller climbed to a 6th place finish in 1941.
An oil leak in the 1946 500 gave Chet an 18th place finish. Chet Miller did not race at Indy in 1947. In 1948, he experienced an oil leak, which gave him 20th place in the Don Lee Mercedes. Miller did not race in the Indy 500 in 1949 and 1950.
Now Chet switched to driving one of the famous Novi cars. 1951 found ignition problems taking Chet out of the race in 25th place. He came back with the Novi again in 1952 with a 30th place finish.
Chet Miller's life came to an end while driving the Novi in practice for the 1953 Indy 500. It was rumored that 1953 was the last year he would compete in the 500. While coming out of the southwest turn, his car wiggled and suddenly shot head on into the concrete wall. Chet Miller, 51 years old, died instantly in the crash.