Indianapolis 500 veteran Gary Bettenhausen passes away at 72

1 Comment

Indianapolis 500 veteran and a member of one of open-wheel racing’s most legendary families, Gary Bettenhausen has passed away at age 72.

News of the passing began to spread late Sunday night, via Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network announcer and Indy Lights NBCSN pit reporter Jake Query, via Rockingham Speedway track president Andy Hillenburg, and MRN Radio’s Winged Nation show among other sources.

Bettenhausen was 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’s 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. in what CART planned as a rival race to the Indianapolis 500.

But in Gary’s Indianapolis 500 career, he started 21 times between 1968 and 1993 and often overachieved in less than top machinery.

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. As recently as 1991 he was the fastest qualifier, driving one of John Menard’s Lola-Buicks.

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.

He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1993, and the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame five years later.

Hillenburg, who made a solitary Indianapolis 500 start in 2000 and also was a veteran NASCAR racer prior to his track ownership career, offered the first brief tribute.

On Monday morning, IMS offered a statement, via track president J. Douglas Boles:

“Gary Bettenhausen was the perfect definition of a race car driver of his time. He raced successfully in many types of cars, on every type of track, and he possessed a work ethic that earned him rides based on his ability and his competitive nature. Gary will best be remembered by Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans for the manner in which he carried the Bettenhausen family’s passion for the Indianapolis 500 and how he drove every lap at the limit when he was competing at IMS. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gary’s wife, his family, and his friends.”

We express our condolences.

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.