Bettenhausen started 1941-1961 at 118 Champ Car races, of which he won 22. In 1951 and 1958 he was champion. By participating in the 500 miles of Indianapolis, which included between 1950 and 1960 for the Drivers' Championship, he also took part in eleven Grand Prix races in part. Winning, however, he never could the race, a second place in 1955 in a Kurtis Kraft - Offenhauser was his best result. . He was killed while trying to qualify for the race at Indianapolis fatal. At high speed, he came into the spin, overturned on the track and came to rest on the track boundary to where his vehicle burst into flames. Bettenhausen died at the accident site.
Bettenhausen is the father of Gary ( b. 1941 ), Merle (* 1943) and Tony Jr. ( 1951-2000 ), all of which were also active as a racing driver.