Bill Puterbaugh, who finished 7th in the 1975 Indianapolis 500 and was named Rookie of the Year, passed away last Monday, October 9, at the age of 81.
Puterbaugh originally hailed from Roxana, Illinois, and raced out of the St. Louis area for several years before moving to Indianapolis in the late 1960s. He made three consecutive Indy 500 starts from 1975-’77, and was proud to have finished each one. After placing 7th in the rain-shortened 1975 race, he was flagged off 22nd in another rain-shortened race in 1976 and was running 12th at the finish in 1977 (above, IMS Photo).
Puterbaugh made 30 starts in United States Auto Club (USAC) National Championship Indycar competition between 1967 and 1979, scoring 11 top-10 finishes, with a best of 6th, twice, at Springfield in 1968 and Sacramento the following year. In 500-milers he had the 7th at Indy and a 9th at Pocono in ’75, as well as a 7th at Ontario in 1976. He also was a regular top-10 runner in USAC’s Silver Crown series for Dirt Champ Cars during the early ’70s, and a five-time race winner in USAC Sprint Car competition, ranking 3rd behind Gary Bettenhausen and Larry Dickson in that championship in 1969.
Puterbaugh is survived by his wife, Joyce, and sons Russell and Billy, the latter having followed in his father’s footsteps as a sprint car driver. To his family and many friends in the sport, Vintage Racecar extends its deepest sympathies.