Sport: Driver of the Year

A stocky man with blond hair walked slowly around the deserted dirt race track, assessing its surface with an expert eye, calculating the bank of its curves. He made a mental note of every hole and soft spot, the oil slicks, the mud clods that could jar a hot rubber tire whirling along at more than 100 m.p.h. Melvin E. ("Tony") Bettenhausen, the year's hottest U.S. driver, and possibly the best since Ralph de Palma, 35 years ago, was planning how to drive a race.

Tony Bettenhausen, who was born the year after De Palma won the Indianapolis Speedway classic in 1915,...

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