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Driver Gary Bettenhausen dies at age 72

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Officials with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway say race car driver Gary Bettenhausen has died. He was 72.

Bettenhausen was a member of a famous racing family and a veteran of open-wheel competition who drove in 21 Indianapolis 500s between 1968 and 1993. His best finish was third in 1980. He led 138 laps of the 1972 race and was the top qualifier in 1991.

Bettenhausen’s father, Tony, also was an Indianapolis 500 veteran who was killed in a practice crash at the speedway in 1961.

Speedway President J. Douglas Boles issued a statement Monday, noting Gary Bettenhausen’s success in many types of cars and calling him “the perfect definition of a race car driver of his time.”


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One response to “Driver Gary Bettenhausen dies at age 72”

  1. William says:

    This is sad news indeed. Gary was a class act, and so good for his sport. And that is something of a rarity in this current age of sport. To illustrate, here is a little story about a the man that I experienced personally: When I was 12 ( I am 50 now) years old, I wrote Gary a letter. I told him he was one of my favorite drivers, and asked for an autographed picture. I enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope. A couple weeks after sending my letter, I received a my envelope back, bursting at the seams. Gary not only provided me a wonderful, autographed picture of his 1973 Indy racer, but also 7 other pictures of him with various cars he had raced in, as well as an assortment of decals. He personalized the autograph, too, demonstrating real care. How many fans today will remember their heroes positively 38 years from now, as I do Gary? He made being a fan great fun.

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