1972 Tony Bettenhausen 200 (lost footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1972)

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Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1972 Tony Bettenhausen 200 was the seventh race of the 1972 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 13th August at the Milwaukee Mile, the race would ultimately be won by Joe Leonard, dominating the race after fellow Parnelli-Offenhauser driver Mario Andretti retired due to a locked wheel. The race was also the last to be televised by the TVS Television Network.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1972 Tony Bettenhausen 200 was the 12th running of the event, the annual race being named in memory of two-time IndyCar champion Tony Bettenhausen.[1] It was one of two 1972 USAC Championship Car Season races to be held at Milwaukee Mile,[2] the other being the 1972 Rex Mays Classic, which occurred on 4th June and was won by Bobby Unser in an Eagle-Offenhauser.[3] Lasting 200 miles,[4] the race would continue to be held until it was dropped from the schedule from 1983 onwards.[5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Mario Andretti winning the pole position with a record speed of 127.932 mph.[6][4] Directly behind him was Joe Leonard, who was seeking to win his third consecutive race,[6] with fellow Parnelli-Offenhauser driver Al Unser lining up third out of 25 competitors.[4]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1972 Tony Bettenhausen 200 commenced on 13th August.[4] Andretti held his lead at the start and would remain the lap leader for the first 107 laps.[4] He generally faced competition from Leonard and Unser throughout, although the latter retired after 79 laps because of a suspension failure.[6][4] On lap 108, Andretti came in for a pit stop.[6] As he did so, his brakes suddenly locked, which caused his car to catch fire.[6][4] While Andretti escaped harm, the fire ended up burning crewmen Al Clark and Jim Dillamarter, who both required hospital treatment.[6]

With Andretti out, Leonard assumed the first position and controlled the remaining 93 laps.[4][6] He therefore claimed victory and $15,139 in prize money.[4][6] Billy Vukovich, Jr. finished second in an Eagle-Offenhauser, being four laps down from Leonard, with Gerhardt-Offenhauser's Johnny Rutherford taking third, a further three laps down from the leader.[4][6]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, the race would receive live flag-to-flag coverage from the TVS Television Network.[7] It also proved to be the final IndyCar race to be aired by the network. But of twelve IndyCar races to have been televised by TVS, none are currently publicly available. Nevertheless, a few photos of the race remain viewable.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Video[edit | edit source]

nascarman History's Top 10 Lost IndyCar Broadcasts detailing TVS Television Network's IndyCar broadcasts (0:20-0:59).

Image[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]