1980 Tony Bettenhausen 200 (lost footage of CART PPG IndyCar World Series race; 1980)

From The Lost Media Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1980 Tony Bettenhausen 200 (also known as the 1980 Tony Bettenhausen Classic and the 1980 Milwaukee 200) was the eighth race of the 1980 CART PPG IndyCar World Series. Occurring on 10th August at the Milwaukee Mile, the race would ultimately be won by polesitter Johnny Rutherford in a Chaparral-Cosworth, after long-term leader and Longhorn-Cosworth driver Al Unser crashed out following an upright failure.


The 1980 Tony Bettenhausen 200 was the 20th running of the event, with the annual race lasting 200 miles.[1] It was one of two 1980 CART PPG IndyCar World Series races to commence at the Milwaukee Mile, the other being the Gould Rex Mays Classic,[2] which occurred on 8th June and was won by Bobby Unser in a Penske-Cosworth.[3] The race, named in memory of two-time IndyCar champion Tony Bettenhausen,[4] was the first Milwaukee Mile race to be sanctioned by CART, with a few more races held until it was dropped from the schedule from 1983 onwards.[5][6]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Johnny Rutherford winning the pole position with a speed of 130.813 mph.[1] Directly behind him was Al Unser, with Penske-Cosworth's Rick Mears lining up third out of 26 competitors.[1]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1980 Tony Bettenhausen 200 commenced on 10th August.[1] Rutherford maintain his lead on the opening lap, holding it until Al Unser passed him on lap 20.[1] Unser held the first position for 39 laps, before Rutherford regained it on lap 59.[1] On lap 65, Penske-Cosworth's Mike Mosley was running in fifth, when he suddenly suffered a rear suspension failure following the front straightaway, culminating in a crash into the wall with the impact significant enough to allow the car to climb up said wall and be airborne, slamming into the wall again.[7][5][1] Despite the massive accident, Mosley escaped uninjured.[5] The resulting crash led to pitstops during a caution period, with Unser coming out in front when the race resumed.[1]

Unser led another 45 laps before briefly being passed by Rutherford on lap 113.[1] He regained it a lap later however, and was seemingly set to win, when on lap 166, his front upright failed, causing the car to slam into the north turn wall.[5][7][1] Unser also escaped uninjured, with Rutherford taking the lead.[5][1] His main rivals for the remaining 35 laps would be Mears and Bobby Unser, but he received a boost when both Penske drivers were penalised a lap following pit violations.[5][1] Rutherford therefore controlled proceedings to claim victory and $20,150 in prize money.[5][7][1] Rutherford's performance was also significant considering he spun off the circuit at one point and also had to contend with a vibration that prevented him from seeing clearly.[7] Mears finished a lap down in second, while Unser was three laps behind, yet still took third.[5][1]


According to IndyCar on TV, 20 minutes of highlights were televised on the same day by NBC as part of its NBC Sportsworld, alongside the Avon World Women's Marathon and Survival of the Fittest, being billed as the Milwaukee 200.[8] The coverage received criticism, with The Indianapolis Star lambasting how just 20 of the 90-minute race was shown. Additionally, the review criticised the limited coverage of the race standings, as well as failing to capture much of the battle between Rutherford and Unser, one camera apparently being situated behind a tree.[8] The review deemed the coverage as an example of motor racing's lack of popularity compared to other sports.[8]

The broadcast has yet to resurface, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. It was known that a YouTube video containing highlights of 1979-1981 CART races also included coverage of the race, but said video has since been taken down.[9]

See Also