He died Sunday at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, of natural causes, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway reported on Monday. Unser 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 race 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 loved and unique racers we’ve ever seen,” said Roger Penske, current owner of Indianapolis Motor. Speedway, but the owner of the team. for the 1981 Unser Indy 500 winning car.
“Beyond his many victories and achievements, Bobby was a true runner who improved the performance of everyone around him. He was also one of the most colorful figures in motorsport. “
Bobby Unser was born February 20, 1934 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but moved with his family as a child to New Mexico. His father owned a garage along Route 66 and he and his brother grew up in old jalopies before starting his racing career in 1949 at Roswell, New Mexico Speedway.
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 pilots in Indianapolis history. Motor Speedway.
He was one of 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. Unser was one of six members of the Unser family to race in the Indianapolis 500.
His final victory in the Indy 500 in 1981 came in a Penske entry in one of the most controversial and controversial results. Unser beat Mario Andretti by 5.18 seconds, but officials ruled that Unser overtook cars illegally by stepping out of the pit lane on bail – shooting a penalty that tied him to a position and moved Andretti to the winner.
Penske and Unser appealed and, after a lengthy process, the sanction was overturned in October of the same year. It was the 35th and final victory of Unser’s career.
At Indianapolis, Unser has produced 10 Top 10 finishes in 19 career starts. He led 10 races for a total of 440 laps, which to date ranks 10th on the all-time list.
“When you talk about racing icons, and in particular the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Bobby Unser was a legend,” said 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 to Indy. “
After his racing career, Unser switched to broadcasting and won an Emmy Award on the ABC Sports broadcast team for “Outstanding Live Sports Special” for his coverage of the 1989 Indianapolis 500.
Unser is survived by his wife, Lisa; sons Bobby Jr. and Robby; and daughters Cindy and Jeri.