Gary Bettenhausen (November 18, 1941 – March 16, 2014) was an American auto racing driver. He was born in Blue Island, Illinois, raised in Tinley Park, Illinois, graduated in the class of 1962 from Bremen High School (Midlothian, Illinois) in Midlothian, Illinois and at the time of his death resided in Monrovia, Indiana.
Bettenhausen died on March 16, 2014 in Monrovia, Indiana.
Bettenhausen began as a midget car driver. He finished third in the midget car national points in 1967. He won the first leg of the Astro Grand Prix in 1969, which was held in the Astrodome. He won the 1967 and 1970 Turkey Night Grand Prix, the 1972 Astro Grand Prix, and the 1976 Hut Hundred, on his way to a total of 27 career wins in USAC midget car competition.
A crash at a Championship Dirt Car race (AKA Silver Crown Car) in Syracuse, New York on July 2, 1974 crushed his left arm and left it paralyzed. He regained enough mobility to drive but never fully recovered from the injury.
Indy/Championship Cars & Indianapolis 500
Bettenhausen competed in Champ/Indy style cars from the mid-1960s until 1996. During this time he won six USAC Indy Car races. He made 21 starts in the Indianapolis 500, contesting each event from 1968 until 1982 (with the exception of 1979 when he failed to qualify), and again from 1986 to 1993. His best finish came in 1980 when he finished third after starting 32nd in the 33-car field.
In the 1972 Indianapolis 500, Bettenhausen led 138 laps (of 200), and appeared on his way to victory. But he suffered a blown engine with only 24 laps remaining, and dropped out to finish 14th.
Bettenhsusen competed in eight career NASCAR Winston Cup events. He had four Top 10 finishes. His highest career finish was a fourth place finish at the 1974 Motor State 360 at the Michigan International Speedway.
Motorsports career results
(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)
Winston Cup Series