Three-time Indy 500 champion, iconic racing family member was 87 – Deadline

Bobby Unser, the racing legend who was one of 10 Indy 500 drivers at least three times and a member of the legendary Unser racing family, died Sunday at his home in New Mexico. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced the news today.

“RIP to a LEGEND,” reads a post on the track’s Twitter account. “Today, the racing world mourns the passing of three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Bobby Unser. He was the complete package – adored by the fans, funny and charming, and a true champion. An icon that we always remember. Good luck, runner.

Unser won the annual Memorial Day Brickyard weekend race in 1968, 1975, and 1981 – becoming the first driver to win the Indy 500 crown in three different decades. (Rick Mears tied that mark in 1991.) After falling and finishing last in his first Indy 500 in 1963 and penultimate the following year, he finished in the Top 10 twice before taking the checkered flag in 1968, three seconds ahead of Dan Gurney.

He would double that margin of victory over Johnny Rutherford in 1975, then defeat Mario Andretti from pole position in the controversial 1981 race. Andretti, second, was declared the winner of that race amid a scandal over cars going under. the yellow flag, but the latter ultimately won. (Watch a race summary below.) This would be his last Indy 500 start. Unser missed the 1982 season and ended up retiring from IndyCar racing the following year.

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He began his IndyCar career after dominating Pike’s Peak, winning that climb for six consecutive years from 1958 to 1963 among his 13 championships there.

Unser is the brother of Al Unser Sr. – one of three drivers to have won the Indianapolis 500 four times – and 1957 Stock Car champion Jerry Unser. His son Robby Unser also raced at the Brickyard, as did nephews Al Unser Jr. and Johnny Unser. The clan combined to take 10 checkered flags at the Indy 500, more than any other family.

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