Friday 12th May 1961
Melvin Eugene ‘Tony’ Bettenhausen (44), a dedicated and fearless driver, winner of the National US-Championship in 1951 and 1958, died. He retired from racing three times but always came back as he found life away from the cockpit boring. Bettenhausen was killed 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.