Bobby Unser

Born : February 20 1932
Deceased : May 3 2021

Biography Bobby Unser

Bobby Unser was born Feb. 20, 1934, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and 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 working on car wrecks before beginning his racing career in 1949 at Roswell New Mexico Speedway.

After two years in the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1955, Unser turned to full-time racing and became one of the greatest racers in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history. He was one of only 10 drivers to win the Indy 500 at least three times, and Unser and Rick Mears are the only racers 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. 

Bobby Unser, winner of the 1968 Indianapolis 500

Unser was renowned for his outstanding car control, which he achieved  among others in several runs of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. At this race, he had no less than 10 overall victories. Unser’s USAC career began in 1955 as mentioned earlier, and he won the USAC Driver championship in 1968, the same year he took his first checkered flag at the Indianapolis 500. 

Bobby Unser his last Indy 500 victory in 1981, he achieved with Penske with one of the most controversial outcomes in the championship. Unser won from the pole, beating Mario Andretti by 5.18 seconds, but officials ruled that Unser passed cars illegally as he cautiously left the pitlane. He received a penalty that cost him one position and carried Andretti to victory. Penske and Unser appealed and after a lengthy trial, the penalty was rescinded in October of that year. It was the 35th and final win of Unser’s career.

At Indianapolis, Unser earned ten top ten finishes in nineteen starts. He led a total of 440 laps in ten races, which to this day still ranks tenth on the “most number of laps in the lead” list of all time. He had two poles, in 1972 and 1981, and started on the front row nine times.

“If you mention icons in racing, 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 during the Indy 500.”

Bobby Unser and IROC

Bobby Unser – IROC Porsche 911 RSR

Bobby Unser had quite some experience in sports car and road racing. His experience and this successful career brought an invite to participate in the IROC series. Although Unser achieved no victories in IROC in the 1973- 1974 series, he continued racing IROC for several more years. In 1975, Unser not only won a few races, but he crowned himself IROC champion too. 

After his racing career, Unser moved into broadcasting. He won an Emmy Award as part of ABC Sports’ broadcast team for “Outstanding Live Sports Special” for coverage of the Indianapolis 500 in 1989.