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Melvin Eugene "Tony" Bettenhausen[1] (September 12, 1916 – May 12, 1961) was an American racing driver, who won the National Championship in 1951 and 1958.

Tony Bettenhausen
Born(1916-09-12)September 12, 1916
Tinley Park, Illinois
DiedMay 12, 1961(1961-05-12) (aged 44)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityUnited States American
Active years19501960
TeamsKurtis Kraft, Deidt, Kuzma, Epperly, Watson
Entries11
Championships0
Wins0
Podiums1
Career points11
Pole positions0
Fastest laps1
First entry1950 Indianapolis 500
Last entry1960 Indianapolis 500

Bettenhausen was nicknamed the "Tinley Park Express" in honor of his hometown.[2] He was nicknamed "Tunney" after heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney. "Tunney" later became "Tony."[3]

Bettenhausen was part of the midget car "Chicago Gang" with Emil Andres, Cowboy O'Rourke, Paul Russo, Jimmy Snyder, and Wally Zale.[4] They toured tracks in the Midwest and East Coast of the United States.

Racing careerEdit

Midget carsEdit

He won the track championship at the Milwaukee Mile in 1942, 1946, and 1947. He was the Chicago Raceway Park champion in 1941, 1942, and 1947.

In October 1950, he was involved in a race in Sacramento, California, when his car locked wheels with another racers car causing a crash through the guard rail, resulting in fatal injuries to spectator Peter Bernard Stuberak, and injuries to two other spectators.[5]

He won the 1959 Turkey Night Grand Prix, and the Hut Hundred in 1955 and 1956.

Indy carsEdit

He drove in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1941 and 1946-1961 seasons with 121 starts, including 14 in the Indianapolis 500. He finished in the top ten 74 times, with 21 victories.

He won the National Championship in 1951 after recording eight victories and two second-place finishes in fourteen events. He announced his retirement from all racing but the Indianapolis 500 after the season.[3] He decided to return full-time for the 1954 season. He was involved in a midget car wreck in Chicago, suffering head injuries after striking a concrete wall. He was in critical condition for several days.[3]

He prearranged to co-drive with Chicago Gang friend Paul Russo in the 1955 Indianapolis 500. They finished second.[4]

In 1958 he became the first driver to win the national championship without a win.[3] He was assured the title with a second-place finish at Phoenix. He finished second in the national championship to Rodger Ward in 1959.

DeathEdit

Bettenhausen was killed in 1961 in a crash at Indianapolis while testing a Stearly Motor Freight Special vehicle for Paul Russo. The car smashed into the outside wall of the track and then rolled 325 feet along the barrier. The car came to rest in a grassy plot between the wall and Grandstand A, with the tail of the car on fire. Results showed the accident was caused by an anchor bolt which fell off the front radius rod support, allowing the front axle to twist and misalign the front wheels when the brakes were applied, which drove the car into the wall.[6]

Complete AAA Championship Car resultsEdit

Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Pos Points
1946 INDY
20
LAN
DNP
ATL ISF
5
MIL
9
GOS
1
9th 340
1947 INDY
18
MIL
15
LAN
10
ATL
DNQ
BAI
4
MIL
11
GOS
1
MIL
4
PIK SPR
1
ARL
10
6th 686,8
1948 ARL INDY
14
MIL
15
LAN
15
MIL
6
SPR
6
MIL
20
DUQ
10
ATL PIK SPR DUQ 15th 324
1949 ARL INDY
DNQ
MIL
DNQ
TRE SPR
18
MIL
15
DUQ
1
PIK SYR
9
DET
1
SPR
9
LAN SAC
DNQ
DMR
16
12th 466
1950 INDY
31
MIL
1
LAN
14
SPR
11
MIL
18
PIK SYR
12
DET
10
SPR
1
SAC
17
PHX
2
BAY
1
DAR
20
5th 1.027,5
1951 INDY
9
MIL
1
LAN
1
DAR
2
SPR
1
MIL
10
DUQ
1
DUQ
1
PIK SYR
1
DET
4
DNC
1
SJS
1
PHX
13
BAY
2
1st 2.556
1952 INDY
24
MIL
DNQ
RAL SPR MIL DET DUQ PIK SYR DNC SJS PHX - 0
1953 INDY
9
MIL SPR DET SPR MIL
DNS
DUQ
18
PIK SYR
1
ISF
6
SAC PHX
1
10th 596
1954 INDY
29
MIL
DNQ
LAN DAR SPR MIL DUQ PIK SYR ISF SAC PHX
16
LVG
17
- 0
1955 INDY
2
MIL
DNQ
LAN SPR
DNQ
MIL
2
DUQ
DNQ
PIK SYR
Wth
ISF
4
SAC PHX
9
4th 1.060
1956 INDY
22
MIL LAN DAR ATL SPR
DNS
MIL
DNS
DUQ
8
SYR
1
ISF
18
SAC
14
PHX
9
24th 290
1957 INDY
15
LAN MIL
DNQ
DET ATL SPR MIL
21
DUQ
15
SYR
DNQ
ISF
11
TRE
7
SAC
18
PHX 29th 80
1958 TRE
2
INDY
4
MIL
2
LAN
5
ATL
18
SPR
12
MIL
25
DUQ
2
SYR
3
ISF
5
TRE
3
SAC
5
PHX
2
1st 1.830
1959 DAY
18
TRE
1
INDY
4
MIL
17
LAN
17
SPR
17
MIL
16
DUQ
3
SYR
6
ISF
15
TRE
2
SAC
1
PHX
8
2nd 1.430
1960 TRE
2
INDY
23
MIL
4
LAN
DNQ
SPR
15
MIL
14
DUQ
2
SYR
2
ISF
2
TRE
6
SAC
5
PHX
16
5th 940
1961 TRE
19
INDY
DNQ
MIL LAN MIL SPR DUQ SYR ISF TRE SAC PHX - 0

Indianapolis 500 resultsEdit

Complete Formula One World Championship resultsEdit

(key) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Points
1950 Blue Crown Spark Plug / Moore Kurtis Kraft 2000 Offenhauser L4 GBR
MON
500
5 †
SUI
BEL
FRA
ITA
21st = 1
1951 Mobiloil / Rotary Engineering Deidt Tuffanelli Derrico Offenhauser L4 SUI
500
9
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
ITA
ESP
NC 0
1952 Blue Crown Spark Plug / Earl Slick Deidt Tuffanelli Derrico Offenhauser L4 SUI
500
24
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
NED
ITA
NC 0
1953 J.C. Agajanian Kuzma Offenhauser L4 ARG
500
9 *
NED
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
SUI
ITA
NC 0
1954 Automobile Shippers / Casaroll Kurtis Kraft 4000 Offenhauser L4 ARG
500
15 ‡
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
SUI
ITA
ESP
NC 0
1955 H.A. Chapman Kurtis Kraft 500C Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
2 џ
BEL
NED
GBR
ITA
13th = 3
1956 Belanger Motors Kurtis Kraft 500C Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
22
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
ITA
NC 0
1957 Novi Racing Kurtis Kraft 500F Novi V8 ARG
MON
500
15
FRA
GBR
GER
PES
ITA
NC 0
1958 Jones & Maley Cars Epperly Indy Roadster Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
NED
500
4
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
POR
ITA
MOR
17th 4
1959 Hoover Motor Express Epperly Indy Roadster Offenhauser L4 MON
500
4
NED
FRA
GBR
GER
POR
ITA
USA
16th 3
1960 Lindsey Hopkins Watson Indy Roadster Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
23
NED
BEL
FRA
GBR
POR
ITA
USA
NC 0
† Indicates shared drive with Joie Chitwood after retiring his own car.
* Indicates shared drive with Chuck Stevenson and Gene Hartley.
‡ Indicates shared drive with Duane Carter, Marshall Teague and Jimmy Jackson after retiring his own car.
џ Indicates shared drive with Paul Russo.

Racing familyEdit

Bettenhausen was the father of Gary Bettenhausen, Tony Bettenhausen, Jr. and Merle Bettenhausen.

AwardsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hayhoe, David; Holland, David. "Grand Prix Data Book". London: Haynes Publishing. p. 578. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. ^ "Biography at the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "Tony Bettenhausen biography at the International Motorsport Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 1 May 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Biography for Paul Russo at the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  5. ^ Spectator Dies from Injuries at Auto Race Track (San Bernardino County Sun, Oct.17, 1950)
  6. ^ "Indy 500 Deadly Accidents, Tony Bettenhausen Sr". Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  7. ^ Tony Bettenhausen at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

External linksEdit