Gary Bettenhausen

Full Name:
Gary Clyde Bettenhausen
Born:
18th November 1941
Tinley Park, Illinois
Died:
16th March 2014 (Aged 72)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The oldest son of two-time National Champion Tony Bettenhausen was one of three brothers who also raced in the National Championship. In a family used to tragedy after his father’s death in 1961, siblings Merle was forced to retire from the sport due to injury and Tony Jr was killed in a light-plane accident in 2000.

Indycar race winner

Gary Bettenhausen began racing in midgets and eventually made his debut in what is now the IndyCar Series at Phoenix in 1966, after 10 unsuccessful attempts to qualify for a race that year.

His Indycar career took off in 1968 when driving the Thermo King Gerhardt-Offenhauser – his maiden victory at Phoenix was just one of seven top-five finishes that year. Second three times during 1969, he returned to Victory Lane at the 1970 Michigan 200. Bettenhausen qualified on pole position and inherited victory when Gordon Johncock suffered a late wheel failure.

Sprint Car Champion

Sprint car champion in 1969 and 1971, he also starred in Indycars during that latter year. He may not have won a race all season but Bettenhausen finished third on two occasions and was seventh in the final standings.

Frustration at the Brickyard

A move to Penske Racing’s McLaren M16B-Offy for 1972 yielded early success at the Trenton 200 (winning by four laps) and he qualified a career-best fourth at Indianapolis. He led the Indy 500 for 138 laps and may well have won. However, he retired after suffering ignition problems with 18 laps to go and so team-mate Mark Donohue scored Penske’s first victory in the race instead.

Bettenhausen’s Penske McLaren M16C-Offy was fifth when rain forced the 1973 Indy 500 to be abandoned and he won the penultimate championship race of the year at the Texas Motor Speedway. But he was seriously injured in a dirt car during 1974 and only made occasional Indycar starts for the rest of the decade.

The 1979 USAC/CART split saw Bettenhausen finish fifth in the mortally wounded former series. He finished third at Indy in 1980, taking Armstrong Mould’s Wildcat-DGS from the back of the grid to within half a minute of victory. Gary Bettenhausen retired from the sport after crashing out of the 1996 United States 500 at Michigan.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1996 PPG Indycar World Series
Bettenhausen Motorsports
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1993 PPG Indycar World Series
Team Menard
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1992 PPG Indycar World Series
Team Menard
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1991 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Team Menard
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
29th 1
1990 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Team Menard
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1989 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Mann Motorsports
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1987 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Gohr Racing
5 0 0 0
0% win rate
24th 10
1986 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Leader Card Racers
Raynor Motorsports
8 0 0 0
0% win rate
32nd 2
1985 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Leader Card Racers
2 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1984 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
BC Pace Racing
H&R Racing
Pabst Racing
4 (3) 0 0 0
0% win rate
37th 3
1983 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Bettenhausen Motorsports
H&R Racing
3 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
34th 1
1982 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Bettenhausen Motorsports
Gohr Racing
6 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
15th 48
1981 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Rhoades Racing
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
15th 42
1980 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Armstrong Mould Racing Team
9 (1) 0 2 0
0% win rate
9th 1057
1979 USAC National Championship
JC Agajanian
Armstrong Mould Racing Team
6 0 1 0
0% win rate
1008
1978 USAC Citicorp Cup National Championship
JC Agajanian
9 0 0 0
0% win rate
29th 294
1977 USAC Citicorp Cup National Championship
JC Agajanian
Joe Hunt
11 0 1 0
0% win rate
14th 850
1976 USAC Citicorp Cup National Championship
Don Gerhardt
Joe Hunt
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1975 USAC National Championship
Don Gerhardt
7 0 0 0
0% win rate
14th 745
1974 USAC National Championship
Penske Racing
6 0 1 0
0% win rate
22nd 260
1973 USAC National Championship
Penske Racing
15 1 5 1
7% win rate
8th 2093
1972 USAC National Championship
Roger Penske Enterprises
6 0 2 1
17% win rate
12th 790
1971 USAC National Championship
Don Gerhardt
12 0 2 0
0% win rate
7th 1800
1970 USAC National Championship
Don Gerhardt
15 1 1 1
7% win rate
17th 710
1969 USAC National Championship
Fred Gerhardt
15 0 3 0
0% win rate
14th 970
1968 USAC National Championship
Joe Hunt
Don Gerhardt
25 0 3 1
4% win rate
8th 1595
1967 USAC National Championship
Joe Hunt
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
47th 60
1966 USAC National Championship
Lynch
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0