Gary Bettenhausen

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Gary Bettenhausen
Bettenhausen, Gary (1984).jpg
Bettenhausen in 1984
Nationality United States American
Born (1941-11-18)November 18, 1941
Tinley Park, Illinois, U.S.
Died March 16, 2014(2014-03-16) (aged 72)
Monrovia, Indiana, U.S.
Achievements 1967, 1971 Sprint car champion
1980, 1983 USAC Silver Crown Series champion
Awards 1993 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Inductee
1998 National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee
Champ Car career
179 races run over 28 years
Best finish 5th (1979)
First race 1966 Bobby Ball Memorial (Phoenix)
Last race 1996 U.S. 500 (Michigan)
First win 1968 Bobby Ball Memorial (Phoenix)
Last win 1973 Texas 200 (College Station)
Wins Podiums Poles
4 32 2
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
8 races run over 2 years
Best finish 43rd (1974)
First race 1967 Daytona 500 (Daytona)
Last race 1974 Motor State 360 (Michigan)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 4 0

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.

Personal life[edit]

Bettenhausen's father was Indianapolis 500 and sprint car legend Tony Bettenhausen. His brother was former CART driver and team owner Tony. Another brother, Merle, was injured in a fiery crash.

Bettenhausen died on March 16, 2014 in Monrovia, Indiana.[1]

Racing career[edit]


Bettenhausen began as a midget car driver. He finished third in the midget car national points in 1967.[2] 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.

Sprint cars[edit]

Bettenhausen won the 1969 and 1971 sprint car championships.[2]

He won the 1980 and 1983 USAC Dirt Track champions in a Silver Crown car.[2]

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.

Bettenhausen racing in CART at Pocono Raceway in 1984

Indy/Championship Cars & Indianapolis 500[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[3]


Motorsports career results[edit]

Indianapolis 500[edit]

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish
1968 Gerhardt Offy 22nd 24th
1969 Gerhardt Offy 9th 26th
1970 Gerhardt Offy 20th 26th
1971 Gerhardt Offy 13th 10th
1972 McLaren Offy 4th 14th
1973 McLaren Offy 5th 5th
1974 McLaren Offy 11th 32nd
1975 Eagle Offy 19th 15th
1976 Eagle Offy 8th 28th
1977 King Offy 21st 16th
1978 King Offy 31st 16th
1979 King Chevrolet Failed to Qualify
1980 Wildcat DGS (Offy) 32nd 3rd
1981 Lightning Cosworth 11th 26th
1982 Lightning Cosworth 30th 12th
1983 Lightning Chevrolet Failed to Qualify
1984 March Cosworth Failed to Qualify
1986 March Cosworth 29th 11th
1987 March Cosworth 15th 5th
1988 March Cosworth Failed to Qualify
1989 Lola Buick 14th 33rd
1990 Lola Buick 18th 31st
1991 Lola Buick 12th 22nd
1992 Lola Buick 5th 17th
1993 Lola Menard-Buick 18th 17th
1994 Penske Ilmor Failed to Qualify


(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Winston Cup Series[edit]


  1. ^ Cavin, Curt (March 17, 2014). "Former Indy 500 driver Gary Bettenhausen dies at 72". USA Today. McLean, VA. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Biography at the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame
  3. ^ a b Biography at

External links[edit]