As “Month of May” activities begin at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the racing world is remembering a legend. Bobby Unser, one of 10 three-time winners of the Indianapolis 500, has died at the age of 87.
Unser took the checkered flag and got his likeness on the famed Borg Warner Trophy in 1968, 1975 and 1981. He is also one of just two drivers to win the race in three different decades, along with four-time winner Rick Mears.
IMS Chairman Roger Penske issued a statement following the news of Unser’s death:
“There simply was no one quite like Bobby Unser. 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. Bobby brought so much to Team Penske during his time with our team, including a memorable victory in the 1981 Indianapolis 500. 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. Throughout his time as a driver, a commentator and an ambassador of our sport, Bobby’s stories and his passion for racing were legendary. Our thoughts and condolences are with Lisa, the Unser family and Bobby’s many friends and fans during this difficult time.”
IMS President Doug Boles also released a statement:
“When you mention icons in racing, and particularly the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Bobby Unser was a legend. He could drive, and win, in any type of car and on any type of track. And he was magical at Indy. But driving was just a piece of what made Bobby so iconic.
Over the last several years, I have seen the true Bobby Unser – the man who loved our sport, loved the Indianapolis 500 and loved to be with the fans. He would go out of his way to do whatever he could to be here in May to help us keep the sport growing. He was always available to give speeches, to sign autographs or to just tell stories. His driving record speaks for itself. His lifelong passion for promoting our sport and his enthusiastic, no sugar-coated opinions that continued after he hung up his helmet had such a meaningful impact on our sport.
Everyone at IMS extends our deepest sympathies to Bobby’s family friends and fans. He was one of a kind and will be deeply missed, but always cherished in the heart of every race fan.”
Unser won two USAC National Championships in 1968 and 1974, and also competed in Formula One and NASCAR. After his racing career ended, Unser served as a racing analyst for ABC, NBC, ESPN and the IMS Radio Network, during which he called his brother Al Unser’s record-tying fourth 500 win and his nephew Al Unser Jr.’s first 500 victory.