Tony Bettenhausen, Jr.


Tony Bettenhausen, Jr.

Tony Bettenhausen, Jr. (b. October 20 1951, Joliet, Illinois – d. February 14 2000) was a former Champ Car team owner and driver who died in a 2000 plane crash. He was the son of former 14-time Indianapolis 500 competitor Tony Bettenhausen and the brother of 21-time Indy racer Gary Bettenhausen. The family holds the dubious distinction of the most combined starts in the famous race without a victory. Another brother, Merle Bettenhausen, was maimed in his only Indy Car start.

As a driver, he started 11 Indianapolis 500 races, scoring a best finish of 7th his rookie year in the 1981 race. He took his trademark #16 into team ownership in 1993, originally using year-old Penske chassis and entering a second car for himself, #76, for that year's Indy 500. A number of successful drivers passed through Bettenhausen's Alumax car, notably former Formula One driver Stefan Johansson the first few years as well as two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and former IndyCar rookie of the year Patrick Carpentier.

Bettenhausen, Jr. also competed in 33 Nextel Cup Series series events in his career, most coming in 1974 when he scored a career best 7th place effort at Richmond International Raceway.

A difficult 1999 plagued by a lack of sponsorship and a series of pay-drivers saw the team take on a new look in 2000 with the hiring of Michel Jourdain Jr. and his Herdez sponsorship.

Bettenhausen never got to see that happen following a light plane crash en route from Indianapolis to Homestead, Florida that went down in Kentucky. Bettenhausen's wife Shirley, as well as business associates Russ Roberts and Larry Rangel were also killed. His legacy of the team lived on under the ownership of former Pacific Racing F1 team owner Keith Wiggins and was renamed Herdez Competition in 2001, with the legendary #16 replaced by Herdez's preference for the #55 early in 2002. The team has subsequently gone through additional changes in ownership, was once Paul Stoddart's Minardi Team USA, and is now Wiggins' HVM Racing competing in the IndyCar Series.

Indy 500 results

External links

* [http://www.racing-reference.info/driver?id=betteto01 NASCAR Statistics from Racing-Reference.info]


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