Albuquerque legend and three-time Indy 500 champ Bobby Unser dies at 87

On Sunday, three-time Indy 500 champion and NASCAR racing legend Bobby Unser passed away at 87. Unser, who moved with his family to Albuquerque from Colorado Springs at the age of one, is one of only ten drivers in the world to win the Indianapolis 500 three times or more. 

Unser had an uphill battle in his racing career, debuting at the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in 1955 but finishing fifth that year. However, one year later, Unser won his first of a record 13 championships at Pike’s Peak. In 1963, Unser raced his first Indy 500, but he crashed early and placed at number 33. His first Indy-car win was in 1967 at Mosport in Ontario, and one year later, he won his first Indianapolis 500.

The Unser family is a racing dynasty. His brother, Jerry Unser, died in a crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His younger brother, Al Unser, is a four-time Indy 500 winner, and his nephew, Al Unser, Jr., won the race twice. In total, six members of the family have raced at the Indianapolis 500.

After his retirement from racing, Unser became a television commentator for Indy car races, working for NBC, ABC, and ESPN for twenty years. 

Following his retirement, he was asked what he attributed to his success in different cars, venues, and different eras during his career. He replied, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”

Unser was inducted into many motorsports Halls of Fame, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

Bobby Unser is survived by his wife Lisa, sons Bobby Jr. and Robby, and daughters Cindy and Jeri.

Bobby Unser’s lifetime of achievements can be remembered by visiting the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, which is currently shuttered by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s COVID-19 lockdown. The museum is set to reopen sometime in the Fall of 2021.

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