Tony Bettenhausen, Tom Bigelow, Jack Hewitt and Johnny Rutherford emerged the winners in USAC’s recent social media poll to complete the 2013 list of inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame.
The four drivers received the most votes from a select list of 16 candidates and will join eight previously-announced inductees in the ceremony which accompanies USAC’s May 18 “Hall of Fame Classic” Traxxas Silver Crown Championship race at Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind.
Previously-announced inductees include Earl Baltes, Henry Banks, Pancho Carter, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, A.J. Watson, Don White, and Bob Wilke.
Tony Bettenhausen of Tinley Park, Ill. joins his son Gary, a 2012 USAC Hall of Fame inductee. The 1951 AAA and 1958 USAC National Driving Champion competed in 14 Indianapolis 500s and finished second to Bob Sweikert in 1955. He was also fourth in 1958 and 1959. Already a member of numerous motorsports Halls of Fame, Bettenhausen is a former winner of the prestigious “Turkey Night Grand Prix” and “Hut Hundred” Midget races. In 1961 he was fatally injured in a practice crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Tom Bigelow of Winchester, Ind. owns 81 career USAC National feature victories. The winningest driver in USAC Sprint car history has 52 total wins, plus 23 Midget wins and six in the Silver Crown cars. He won the 1978 USAC National Sprint car title and added the 1984 USAC National Midget crown and in 1982 was USAC’s Indianapolis Speedrome Midget king. A member of both the National Sprint Car and Midget Halls of Fame, he started nine Indianapolis 500s and finished sixth in 1977. In 1969 he emerged as the overall champion of the inaugural USAC Midget event at the Houston (Tex.) Astrodome.
Troy, Ohio’s Jack Hewitt is the winningest driver in USAC Silver Crown history, with 23 total victories to his credit. He also owns 46 USAC Sprint wins and seven in the Midgets. The 1986 and 1987 USAC Silver Crown driving champion achieved a life-long goal in 1998 by competing in the Indianapolis 500 where he finished 12th. In 1998 he achieved what many believe to be one of motorsports’ most incredible feats – a clean sweep of the “4-Crown Nationals” at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. His wins in USAC Silver Crown, USAC Sprint, USAC Midget and modified competition came with four different teams!
“Lone Star J.R.,” as Fort Worth, Tex. driver Johnny Rutherford is affectionately known, is a three-time Indianapolis 500 champion (1974, 1976 and 1980) and won USAC’s National Sprint Car title in 1965 and added the USAC Indy Car crown in 1980. A multiple Hall of Fame member, he also won three Indianapolis 500 poles and scored 20 Championship car wins and eight in USAC Sprints. In 1986 he added the Michigan 500 to his resume and he’s also a five-time IROC veteran. USAC’s 2000 Roger McCluskey Award winner has had heavy involvement as a driver coach and pace car driver for Indy Car events and in 1963 set a world qualifying record during NASCAR stock car competition at Daytona Beach, Fla. He followed that by winning his initial NASCAR start – a 100-miler at Daytona!