Bill Puterbaugh, a former IndyCar Rookie of the Year who famously qualified for he Indy 500 in the dark, has passed away. He was 81.
Puterbaugh had dreamed of racing in the Indy 500 since he was a child, according to the Indianapolis Star. That dream didn’t come easy. Puterbaugh tried to qualify from 1968-1974 — six times — and failed on each occasion. He finally qualified in 1975, starting 15th and finishing seventh, and was named the Rookie of the Year.
That would be the pinnacle of his Indy success. He raced in 1976 and 1977 and finished 22 and 12, respectively. He again failed to qualify in 1978.
He had his most success in Sprint cars, winning five races. In the USAC Championship Car Series, where he finished in the top ten 11 times. His best career finish was sixth, and he did that twice.