Bobby Unser, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and part of the only pair of brothers to win “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.
“It’s part of the Mount Rushmore of Indy,” said Dario Franchitti, another three-time Indy 500 winner.
Younger brother Al Unser is one of only three drivers to have won the Indy 500 four times – 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987. The Unser family tradition extends to Al Our son Al Unser Jr., who won the Indy 500 in 1992 and 1992 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, but moved to New Mexico with his family as a child. His father owned a garage along Route 66 and he and his brother grew up with 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 rode in the Indianapolis 500.
Franchitti spent time on the speedway or over dinner with other previous winners each year, saying ours was “always the greatest personality in pretty much any room.”
“He showed up on the speedway and regardless of when he last raced, he still understood the race and the prerequisites for victory and was still very insightful,” said Franchitti. “He loved the Indy 500 so much.” He loved coming back. ”
His last Indy 500 win in 1981 was a Penske contribution in one of the most controversial and controversial outcomes. Unser defeated Mario Andretti by 5.18 seconds, but the officials decided that when we exited the pit lane, we were careful to drive past 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 overturned in October of that year. It was the 35th and last victory of our career.
In Indianapolis, Unser achieved 10 top 10 finishes in 19 career starts. He led a total of 440 laps in 10 races and is still 10th on the all-time list.
“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 the 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.
He was at the booth in 1987 when he named Brother Al the fourth record-breaking 500 win, and in 1992 when nephew Al Unser Jr. won Indy for the first time in the next 500 victory. When his television career ended, Unser continued to visit the Speedway every May. He was a driver-trainer who assisted with racing strategy in 1998 and 1999 when son Robby Our finished fifth and eighth.
Ours is survived by his wife Lisa; Sons Bobby Jr. and Robby; and the daughters Cindy and Jeri.