CM – Bobby Unser, Indy 500 champion in a great racing family, dies at the age of 87


Bobby Unser, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and part of the only pair of brothers who won « The Greatest Spectacle in Racing », has died. He was 87 years old.

He died of natural causes at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sunday, Indianapolis Motor Speedway said Monday. Ours won the Indy 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981.

His younger brother Al is one of only three four-time Indy 500 winners in racing history. Al Unser won the races in 1970, 1971, 1978, and 1987. The Unser family tradition extended to Al Unser’s son, Al Unser Jr., who won the Indy 500 in 1992 and 1994.

« Bobby was a fierce competitor on the track, and his larger-than-life personality made him one of the most popular and unique racing drivers we have ever seen, » said Roger Penske, the current owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway but the team owner for our 1981 Indy 500 winning car.

“In addition to his many victories and successes, Bobby was a true racing driver who increased the performance of everyone around him. He was also one of the most colorful characters in motorsport.  »

Bobby Unser was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado on February 20, 1934, and moved to New Mexico with his family as a child. His father owned a garage on Route 66 and his brother grew up in old jalopies before starting his racing career at Roswell New Mexico Speedway in 1949.

After two years in the US Air Force from 1953 to 1955 – a stint he was always proud of – Unser turned to full-time racing and became one of the greatest racing drivers in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history.

He was one of only 10 drivers to have won the 500 at least three times, and Unser and Rick Mears are the only drivers to have won the 500 in three different decades. Ours was one of six members of the Unser family who have ridden in the Indianapolis 500.

His last Indy 500 win in 1981 was a Penske entry in one of the most controversial results. Unser won from pole position, beating Mario Andretti by 5.18 seconds, but officials decided that when we were exiting the pit lane, we were careful to pass cars illegally – a penalty that dropped him one position and made Andretti the winner.

Penske and Unser appealed and after a long process the sentence was lifted in October this year. It was the 35th and last victory in our career.
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In Indianapolis, Unser achieved 10 top 10 placements in 19 career starts. He led in 10 races with a total of 440 laps, which is still 10th on the all-time list. He won two poles in 1972 and 1981 and had nine front row starts.

« If you mention icons in motor racing, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway in particular, Bobby Unser was a legend, » said Doug Boles, Speedway president. “He could drive and win in any type of car and any type of track. And he was magical in Indy.  »

After his driving career, Unser switched to radio and won an Emmy Award as part of the ABC Sports broadcast team for Outstanding Live Sports Special for reporting on the 1989 Indianapolis 500.

Our is survived by his wife Lisa; Sons Bobby Jr. and Robby; and daughters Cindy and Jeri.



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