Available From the Racer Store: Tony Bettenhausen and Sons: An American Racing Family Album

Irvine, CA — Perhaps less well known, but still among the handful of successful American racing families are the Bettenhausens — Tony and his sons Gary, Merle and Tony Jr.

Taking a different path to telling more of the Bettenhausens’ story led award-winning author Gordon Kirby to seek advice and assistance from Merle and Susan Bettenhausen. The result is a fresh pictorial approach that makes use of the superb Racemaker Press photo archive as well as the family’s and Merle’s personal collections.

Gary Bettenhausen, Rollie Beale and Bruce Walkup wheel to wheel in a sprint car features at Winchester Speedway in the fall of 1969. Photo: John Mahoney

“Working in partnership with my Racemaker Press publisher, Joe Freeman, we created a visual odyssey of the Bettenhausen family’s epic story,” Kirby said. “It starts with two-time Indy car champion Tony Senior’s first laps at the wheel of a mid-western midget in 1938, and follows Gary’s, Merle’s and Tony Jr.’s careers with over 350 photos.”

The story is enlivened by Merle and Susan Bettenhausen’s personal recollections, observations and commentary about their father, brothers and family. The 225-page book, published in 2016 and available from the Racer Store, is completed by full statistical data of the Bettenhausens’ racing careers.

Photo: Racemaker Archive

Take a look at a selection of some 20 pages from the book’s four chapters, starting with Tony Sr. and proceeding through Gary, Merle and Tony Jr.