Tony Bettenhausen

By 1961, Tony Bettenhausen was a fearless, battle-hardened veteran who had won 21 championship races, but never Indy. He'd come in 2nd in 1955 and 4th twice, and now he was preparing for his 14th shot at the 500. This time he had the fastest car, turning laps above 149 mph in practice.

Meanwhile, Paul Russo was having handling problems with his car and Bettenhausen offered to take it around the track on a test run. The problem turned out to be a simple bolt working loose, but when it fell off Bettenhausen lost all control and the car rolled along the fence line and came to rest upside down in flames. Tony had famously been upside down 28 times in his career and always came through it. Not this time.