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CART Family Absorbs Another Loss

16 February 2000

By David Treffer
Contributing Editor, The Auto Channel

We are given daily reminders of just how fragile life is. The sad news of the plane crash, outside of Lexington, KY that killed Tony Bettenhausen, his wife Shirley as well as Russ Roberts and Larry Rangel comes directly on the heels of the recently completed spring training in Homestead, Florida.

During those two days of testing you could feel the undercurrents of the CART family attempting to put the untimely death of Greg Moore to rest. Hardly a word was mentioned about Greg by anyone in attendance but you could feel his presence up and down pit row. The press bulletin announcing the Greg Moore Foundation was just about the only public display.

The racing family is not prone to mourn in public. The English would call it "the stiff upper lip." No, the racing family finds solace by talking to other members of the fraternity to lament the loss and remember fondly what impact that person had on an otherwise beautiful sport.

The unfortunate news that came across the newswire on Monday about "Tony B." as people liked to refer to him and his wife will now re-open those wounds.

The name Bettenhausen is synonymous with racing. The family has endured its share of happiness and tragedy. Especially at Indianapolis. Tonys father was one of the best-known drivers at "The Brickyard" as well as USAC racing. His life was cut short in a crash during practice for the 1961 Indy 500.

Tony Bettenhausen and his wife Shirley were the personification of a racing couple. Shirley, the daughter of another Indy legend, Jim McElreath, was a great ambassador for the sport. Very active in the CART wives auxiliary, Shirley was tireless in promoting the sport to women and kids and at the same raising awareness of helping drivers who were injured and needed financial help.

So now the task of picking up the pieces of another CART family tragedy will begin. The CART season begins in less than six weeks. The future of the team that Bettenhausen owned will be determined in the days and weeks to come. It will be those same days and weeks ahead that will hopefully bring closure and start the healing process for the racing family.

Editors Note: To view hundreds of hot photos and racing art, please visit The Racing Image Galleries and The Visions of Speed Art Gallery