Thursday, May 17, 2018

Jerry Unser Jr. Dies Following Indy Crash - May 17, 1959

November 15, 1932 - May 17, 1959
Jerry Unser Jr
Born In Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.
Jerry was the driver and twin brother Louie was his chief mechanic. The family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico when the boys were four. However, in 1955, Jerry Unser Sr took his sons back to Colorado for the annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb, and it was there that the boys' interest really took off.

But Louie had greater skills as a mechanic and, in 1956, went to work for Bill Stroppe's factory team that was based next door to brother's Jerry's DePaolo Engineering USAC racing team. Both teams folded in 1957 when factories withdrew their support, but the brothers purchased the equipment and went racing together.

Jerry was the 1957 USAC Stock Car champion and presented his diamond ring to Louie, who wore it the rest of his life. Louie also was named mechanic of the year that season.

Jerry and Louie showed up at Indy in 1958, starting a family tradition at the famed Brickyard that would see youngest brother Al the win the Indianapolis 500 four times, brother Bobby three times, while nephew Al Unser Jr was a two-time winner. Jerry's son Johnny and Bobby's son Robby have also competed in the race.

When the twins arrived at Indy, Jerry jumped from car to car until he qualified the McKay Special in 24th place. In his only start, he was caught up in a 13-car pileup on the first lap and flew over the turn three wall, miraculously emerging unhurt.

(Photo credit;
The following year on May 17th, Jerry died of serious burns following a practice crash before the 1959 Indianapolis 500, leaving behind a widow, Jeanne Unser, and two sons, Jerry and Johnny Unser.

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