Indy 500 legend Al Unser’s cause of death has been clarified soon after he passed away late Thursday evening (December 9, 2021) at his home in Chama, New Mexico at the age of 82. May he rest in heaven.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway confirmed the heartbreaking news early Friday announcing that Unser breathed his last at his home in Chama, New Mexico, with his wife, Susan, by his side.
Besides his four Indianapolis 500 wins, his son, Al Unser Jr., beat the race twice, making them the only father and son to win the race. Al Sr.’s brother, Bobby, won the 500 three times, making them the only brothers to do so.
Al Unser Jr shared a post on Twitter, writing, “My heart is so saddened. My father passed away last night. He was a great man and even a Greater Father. Rest In Peace Dad!”
A smooth racer on the track, his five-decade career included four Indianapolis 500 victories, three national championships, two Pikes Peak Hill Climb victories, one IROC championship, and the most laps led (644) to date in the Indy 500.
The youngest of four racing brothers, Unser was born in Albuquerque in 1939 to a family of hard-core racers. His father, Jerry, and two uncles, Louis and Joe, were also drivers. Beginning in 1926, the family began competing in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, an annual road race held in Colorado.
In 1958, Al’s oldest brother, Jerry, became the first Unser to qualify for the Indianapolis 500; he was killed in a crash during practice the next year.
In 1998, Al Unser was seated in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. His collection of trophies and cars is available at the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque.
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US day News offers its deepest sympathies to his family, friends, fans, and all of his loved ones on these challenging days too. You can also leave a condolence message below the comment box to honor him.
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Unser leaves behind his wife Susan and son Al Jr. He was preceded in death by daughters Mary and Deborah. His brother Bobby additionally passed away in May at age 87, and nephew Bobby Unser Jr. lost his life in June at 65.
Al Unser Sr. retired with 39 wins and season championships in 1970, 1983, and 1985. “Al Unser Sr. was one of the smartest drivers I’ve ever raced against,” Mario Andretti told. “And I often said I wish I could’ve had some of his patience. I know it would have worked for me many time.”
Unser kicked off racing in 1957 and competed in his first Indy 500 eight years later. He dominated in his first Indy win in 1970 by starting from the pole and leading all but 10 of the 200 laps. At that time he beat runner-up Mark Donohue by 32 seconds. Unser won again the next year in the distinctive “Johnny Lightning Special” fielded by Parnelli Jones and finished second to Donohue in 1972.
He was awarded his third Indy win in 1978. The fourth, in 1987, was, by far, the most surprising as he entered the month of May without a ride for the race.
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Unser had been dropped by team owner Roger Penske after four seasons in favor of Danny Ongais, but Ongais suffered a concussion in a practice accident and could not compete. Penske turned back to Unser, giving him a backup car that started the month as a show car on display in a hotel in Reading, Pennsylvania, where the team was based.
With his victory in 1987, Unser, then 47, became the oldest winner in Indy 500 history. He entered A.J. Foyt as the only four-time winner of the race, a group that now includes Rick Mears and 2021 race winner Helio Castroneves.
“I will always remember Big Al welcoming me to the speedway,” Castroneves stated on Friday. “He and Johnny Rutherford were the two helping me with my rookie orientation. He will be missed.”
Retiring in 1994, Al Unser Sr remains the career lap leader for the Indianapolis 500 with 644, leading over half the laps in three of his Indy 500 victories. The closest active driver is Scott Dixon with 570 laps led.
Good to know, Unser ran five NASCAR races in his career, finishing fourth in the 1968 Daytona 500 and gaining three top-10 finishes in NASCAR. He even won three times in the International Race of Champions, an all-star series that pitted the top drivers from various disciplines against one another.
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