On the 130th lap,Tony Bettenhausen started suffering a handling problem exiting turn two….when down the backstretch, his right-front wheel lug nut may have come off the car….and the wheel began to loosen. In turn three, the wheel came off and began rolling though the north short chute….and that is when 2nd place Roberto Guerrero came up on the wheel suddenly….and hit it with his nosecone…..as the nosecone cover was broken off….and the wheel was punted high into the air…..when the wheel cleared the catch-fencing….and flew towards the “K” grandstand. Spectators were witnessed fleeing the seating in a “V” shape as the 18-pound wheel headed their direction…..when the wheel came down and struck 41-year-old Lyle Kurtenbach of Rothschild, Wisconsin in the head….while sitting in the top row of the grandstand….as he suffered massive head injuries….and was pronounced dead at Methodist Hospital shortly afterwards. The wheel bounded and came to rest in the tunnel underneath the north short chute.
The live ABC television broadcast was at commercial when this event occurred….and during the commercial, the incident was noticed by the producers and commentators…..so, when they returned on-air, however, footage of the incident was not shown….nor were any specific details given of what had occurred.