Bobby Unser, who won the Indianapolis 500 three times and was one half of the only pair of brothers to capture “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” has died, Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Monday. He was 87.
Unser died of natural causes at his home in Albuquerque, N.M. His three Indy 500 victories came in 1968, 1975 and 1981.
Unser hailed from one of the world’s most famous racing families. Brother Al Unser won the Indy 500 four times (1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987) and nephew Al Unser Jr. won the race in 1992 and 1994.
“Bobby was a ferocious competitor on the track, and his larger-than-life personality made him one of the most beloved and unique racers we have ever seen,” said Roger Penske, the current owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and team owner of Unser’s 1981 Indy 500 winning car.
“Beyond his many wins and accomplishments, Bobby was a true racer that raised the performance of everyone around him. He was also one of the most colorful characters in motorsports.”
Per The AP: “Bobby Unser was born Feb. 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 tooling around in old jalopies before he began his racing career in 1949 at Roswell (New Mexico) Speedway.”
Unser and Rick Mears are the only two drivers to win the Indy 500 in three different decades. They are two of just 10 to have won the Indy 500 on three occasions overall.
Unser then moved into the broadcast booth, winning an Emmy Award as part of the ABC Sports broadcast crew that covered the 1989 Indianapolis 500.