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Former Indy 500 Race Car Driver Gary Bettenhausen, 72

Bettenhausen has died, leaving behind an impressive racing legacy.

Former Indy 500 Race Car Driver Gary Bettenhausen, 72

The racing world has lost one of its greats.

Race car driver and Southland native Gary Bettenhausen has died at the age of 72, Sun-Times Media reports. 

Bettenhausen was born in Blue Island and raised in Tinley Park. He drove in 21 Indianapolis 500 races, between 1968 and 1993; his top finish was third place, in 1980, according to the report. 

In the 1972 race, he led the pack on 138 laps. He was the top qualifier in 1991. 

Bettenhausen was the oldest of three racing sons. His father Tony also was an Indy 500 veteran; he was killed in a practice crash at the speedway in 1961.

Speedway President J. Douglas Boles called Tony, “the perfect definition of a race car driver of his time.”

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