- Helping you drive happy

IndyCar: Gary Bettenhausen passes away at 72

Gary Bettenhausen, member of one of open-wheel racing's most legendary families in North America, has passed away at age 72.

Bettenhausen was the son of Tony Bettenhausen, a 14-time ‘500 starter whose best finish was second in 1955, and brother of the late Tony Bettenhausen Jr., and Merle Bettenhusen.

Gary Bettenhausen is an Indianapolis 500 veteran who started 21 times between 1968 and 1993 and whose final start in American open-wheel racing came at the 1996 U.S. 500, driving a several-year-old Penske chassis for brother Tony Jr.

IndyCar 1972 Gary Bettenhausen
Gary Bettenhausen, 1972 Indy 500. (Photo: IMS)

His best result came in 1980 when he finished third, but his best drive occurred in 1972, after leading 138 laps and suffering a late-race mechanical failure.

Bettenhausen, one of the best on dirt, came up on the short tracks of the Midwest and was a multi-time sprint car and dirt track champion. He made several NASCAR starts as well.