Bobby Unser, three-time Indy 500 winner, dead at 87

Bobby Unser, a beloved three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and a part of the one pair of brothers to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” has died. (*87*) was 87.

(*87*) died Sunday at his residence in Albuquerque, New Mexico, of pure causes, Indianapolis Motor Speedway mentioned Monday.

Unser was one of many best racers within the historical past at the speedway, capturing the race in 1968, 1975 and 1981.

“He is part of the Mount Rushmore of Indy,” mentioned Dario Franchitti, one other three-time Indy 500 winner.

Younger brother Al Unser is one among solely three drivers to win the Indy 500 4 instances — 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987. The Unser household custom stretched to Al Unser’s son, Al Unser Jr., who received the Indy 500 in 1992 and 1994.

“Bobby was a ferocious competitor on the track, and his larger-than-life personality made him one of the most beloved and unique racers we have ever seen,” mentioned Roger Penske, the present speedway proprietor however the group proprietor for Unser’s profitable automotive at the 1981 Indy 500.

“Beyond his many wins and accomplishments, Bobby was a true racer that raised the performance of everyone around him. He was also one of the most colorful characters in motorsports.”

Bobby Unser was born Feb. 20, 1934, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and moved together with his household as a toddler to New Mexico. His father owned a storage alongside Route 66 and he his three brothers grew up tooling round in outdated jalopies earlier than he stop highschool at 15 and commenced his racing profession at Roswell New Mexico Speedway.

After two years within the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1955 — a stint during which he took pleasure — Unser turned to racing full time in what grew to become a mighty profession.

(*87*) was one among simply 10 drivers to win the 500 at least 3 times, and Unser and Rick Mears are the one drivers to win the 500 in three totally different many years. Unser was one among six members of the Unser household to race within the Indianapolis 500.

Bobby Unser dead at 87
Bobby Unser poses together with his automotive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1981.
ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group through Getty Images

Franchitti frolicked every year at the speedway or at dinner with different previous winners and mentioned Unser was “always the largest personality in pretty much any room.”

“He showed up at the speedway and regardless of when he last raced, he still understood the race and what it took to win the race and he was still so very insightful,” Franchitti mentioned. “He loved the Indy 500 so much. He loved coming back.”

Unser’s remaining Indy 500 victory in 1981 got here in a Penske entry in one of the contentious outcomes. Unser received from the pole and beat Mario Andretti by 5.18 seconds, however officers dominated Unser handed vehicles illegally whereas exiting the pit lane below warning — drawing a penalty that docked him one place and moved Andretti to winner.

Penske and Unser appealed and after a prolonged course of the penalty was rescinded in October of that 12 months. It was the thirty fifth and remaining victory of Unser’s profession.

At Indianapolis, Unser produced 10 top-10 finishes in 19 profession begins. (*87*) led led in 10 races for a complete of 440 laps, which to today ranks tenth on the all-time record. (*87*) received two poles, in 1972 and 1981, and had 9 front-row begins.

“When you mention icons in racing, and particularly the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Bobby Unser was a legend,” mentioned Doug Boles, president of the speedway. “He could drive, and win, in any type of car and on any type of track. And he was magical at Indy.”

After his driving profession, Unser moved to a 20-year broadcasting profession and received an Emmy Award as a part of the ABC Sports broadcast group for “Outstanding Live Sports Special” for its protection of the 1989 Indianapolis 500.

(*87*) was within the sales space in 1987 when he known as brother Al’s record-tying fourth 500 victory, and once more in 1992 when nephew Al Unser Jr. received Indy for the primary time within the closest 500 end. When his TV profession ended, Unser continued to go to the speedway each May. (*87*) was a driver coach who assisted on race technique in 1998 and 1999 when son Robby Unser completed fifth and eighth.

Unser is survived by his spouse, Lisa; sons Bobby Jr. and Robby; and daughters Cindy and Jeri.

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