INDY 500 VET BETTENHAUSEN PASSES
Gary Bettenhausen, a starter in the Indy 500 21 times, passed away on Sunday at the age of 72.
Part of one of the most famous, yet star-crossed families in Brickyard history, Bettenhausen for many years tried to complete his family's quest for victory in the 500, but never came to fuition.
His father, Tony, was killed in a practice crash for the 1961 race. His brother, Tony Jr. was a former CART owner who was killed in a plane crash on route to the 2000 season opener in Homestead FL. His other brother Merle has hurt in a fiery sprint car crash.
Bettenhausen's closest call with victory in the 500 came in 1972. Driving for Roger Penske, Bettenhausen dominated, leading 138 laps. With 24 laps to go, he suffered engine problems and dropped out. Bettenahusen;s teammate in '72, Mark Donohue would go on to win. Bettenhausen's best finish at Indy was a 3rd in 1980 after starting in the last row.
Bettenhausen was perhaps best know for his dirt track / short track skills. He won multiple USAC titles in sprint and Silver Crown cars.
Bettenhausen was born in Tinley Park IL, and resided in Monrovia IN. He will be missed,