Open Wheel - Class of 1997
Although his career in midgets and Indy cars spanned both the pre and post World War II eras, the latter was, by far, Bettenhausen's best. From 1946 until his untimely death in a racing accident at Indianapolis in 1961, Tony won 21 Championship races, placing him 14th on the current all-time list. He also won the National Championship in 1951 and 1958, and set a record in '51 for the most championship race wins in a single season, winning eight of the 15 events. (That single season record was later broken by A.J. Foyt in 1964). Bettenhausen still ranks among the top lap leaders from 1946-95. In his 1951 Championship year, Tony led 640 of a possible 650 laps in one seven-race stretch. He competed in the Indy 500 14 times, and while he never won, he had a second and a pair of fourths to his credit.