Three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser passes away aged 87

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 13-time winner of the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb Bobby Unser has passed away at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the age of 87.

Three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser passes away aged 87

Unser won the Indy 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981, making him the only other driver than Rick Mears to win the event in three different decades.

He also made one Formula 1 start for BRM in the 1968 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, when he retired with a blown engine.

Born into a family of racers, with uncle Louis winning Pikes Peak nine times, Unser was born in Colorado Springs in 1934. His younger brother Al Unser Sr and nephew Al Jr both also won the Indy 500. Another brother, Jerry, died in the 1959 race.

Unser started racing at Roswell Speedway in 1949 and won his first title the following year in Southwestern Modified Stock Cars.

After serving in the US Air Force from 1953 to 1955, Unser and his brothers decided to pursue racing careers in United States Auto Club (USAC) competition.

Bobby earned seven career USAC Sprint Car feature victories and placed third in the standings in 1965 and 1966. He also won six USAC Stock Car races and three USAC Midget features.

Unser’s career in IndyCars started in the end of the 1962 season. He spent three years driving Novi-engined cars for Andy Granatelli, his first Indy 500 start coming in 1963 although he completed just two laps after being involved in an accident.

 Bobby Unser, Andy Granatelli, Ferguson Novi 1964 Indy 500

Bobby Unser, Andy Granatelli, Ferguson Novi 1964 Indy 500

Photo by: Motorsport Images

His first IndyCar win came at Mosport in 1967, and he went on to become USAC National Champion in 1968 and 1974.

He finished his career with 35 career IndyCar victories, recorded eight top-three finishes in the season points and was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 1990.

He retired from racing soon after his controversial final Indy 500 victory, having been initially stripped of victory for passing cars during a caution. Five months later, the win was reinstated following a protest and lawsuit by team owner Roger Penske – instead, Unser was fined $40,000.

Following the controversy, Unser said he became disillusioned with the sport – but went on to have a hugely successful broadcasting career, working for NBC, ABC and ESPN on IndyCar, as well as NASCAR events.
Unser is survived by his wife, Lisa; sons Bobby Jr. and Robby; and daughters Cindy and Jeri.

shares
comments
O'Ward won't push for McLaren F1 switch, 'heart in IndyCar'
Previous article

O'Ward won't push for McLaren F1 switch, 'heart in IndyCar'

Next article

Foyt team reeling from ‘unbelievable’ IndyCar Texas bad luck

Foyt team reeling from ‘unbelievable’ IndyCar Texas bad luck
How Ericsson achieved Indy immortality as Ganassi's main man stumbled Plus

How Ericsson achieved Indy immortality as Ganassi's main man stumbled

Chip Ganassi Racing team was strong again in the Indianapolis 500, with poleman Scott Dixon and reigning champion Alex Palou leading almost three quarters of the race between them. But when dominator Dixon was penalised for pitlane speeding, ex-Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson stepped up to score the biggest win of his career and seize the IndyCar points lead

IndyCar
May 30, 2022
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 21, 2021
How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential Plus

How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential

Romain Grosjean's swashbuckling rookie year in IndyCar captured the imagination of many in 2021. But another ex-Formula 1 driver whose potential was masked by five years of toil in, at best, middling machinery also enjoyed a breakout year in 2021 - winning twice and finishing sixth in points. Here's how Marcus Ericsson finally delivered on his promise

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best Plus

How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best

IndyCar sophomore Alex Palou stunned by overcoming team-mate Scott Dixon and the rest of a white-hot field in 2021. He was consistently fast and crucially showed a level head, rebounding well from setbacks to put himself in a near unassailable position entering the final round

IndyCar
Nov 4, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Plus

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Despite appearing to have an IndyCar job for life with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey’s departure and move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate. However, Harvey's and RLL's combined strengths could prove to be a winning combination - if they get the balance right

IndyCar
Oct 17, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win Plus

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win

Saturday 16 October marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Plus

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong junior career and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021