Monday, May 29, 2017

Al Unser Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico - May 29, 1939

May 29, 1939
Al Unser
(Photo; www.carlosghys.be)
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
Unser the younger brother of fellow racing drivers Jerry and Bobby Unser, and father of Al Unser, Jr.. Now retired, he is the second of three men to have won the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race four times, the fourth of five to have won the race in consecutive years, and won in American Championship Car Racing in 1970, 1983, and 1985. He is the only person to have both a sibling (Bobby) and child (Al Jr.) as fellow Indy 500 winners. Al's nephews Johnny and Robby Unser have also competed in that race.

After his son Al Jr. joined the top circuit in 1983, Unser has generally been known by the retronymic name of "Al Unser, Sr." or "Big Al."

His father Jerry Unser and two uncles, Louis and Joe, were also drivers. Beginning in 1926 they competed in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, an annual road race held in Colorado. Joe Unser became the first member of the Unser clan to lose his life to the sport, killed while test-driving an FWD Coleman Special on the Denver highway in 1929.

Al's oldest brother Jerry became the first Unser to drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, qualifying 23rd and finishing 31st in the 1958 Indianapolis 500. However, tragedy struck the next year when he was killed from injuries sustained in a fiery crash during a practice session. Middle brother Bobby drove in his first Indianapolis 500 in 1963, becoming in 1968 the first member of the family to win.

Career highlights;
Unser has led the most laps of any driver in the history of the Indianapolis 500, at 644. He tied Ralph DePalma's long standing record of 612 laps led on the last lap of his 4th victory.

He holds the record of being the oldest driver to ever win the 500 at 47 years old, breaking the previous record set by his brother Bobby.

Unser won two 500-mile races at Pocono and two more at Ontario bringing his total of 500-mile race wins to eight, including four Indianapolis 500s.

He was the 1978 IROC champion. He also competed in the 1968 Daytona 500 and four other NASCAR Winston Cup & Grand National races, all held on road courses with a best finish of fourth.

He was the 1970 USAC National Championship Trail Champion, the 1978 Triple Crown Champion and the 1983 & 1985 PPG Indy Car World Series Champion.

Al Unser and family own and operate the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1991 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 1998.

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