The 103rd Indianapolis 500 event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 26, 2019, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. The legendary event has been the premier event for American open wheel racing for decades with roots deeply imbedded in dirt track racing. To honor this heritage, we plan on counting down the top 20 dirt track racers that have won the Indianapolis 500.
Today we break into our top 5 with Bobby Unser at #4. From the famous Unser family, Bobby is the brother of Al Unser Sr., Jerry Unser, and Louis Unser. He is the father of racer Robby Unser, and the uncle of Al Unser Jr, and Johnny Unser. The Unser family has won the Indy 500 an amazing nine times. The Unser family has long ties to the great race, even losing a member, Jerry Unser, to a practice crash before the 1959 Indianapolis 500.
Bobby is one of ten drivers that have won the Indy three or more times, and one of two drivers that have won the race in three different decades (1968, 1975, and 1981). The other driver was Rick Mears.
Bobby won his first dirt track championship at the age of 15 in the Southwest Modified Stock Car series. After a short stint in the Air Force, he was back home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the three brothers decided to race professionally in the USAC Sprint Car series. It didn’t take long for the brothers to make the move into USAC’s Champ Car racing where Bobby eventually won 35 victories in the series before retiring.
He was the USAC National Champion in 1968 and 1974, and the runner-up in 1970, 1979, and 1980. If that wasn’t enough, he also finished third in the championship standing three-times.
As far as the Indy 500 goes, Bobby qualified for the race 19 consecutive times, starting on the front row an amazing nine times.
Bobby was the 1975 IROC champion, won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 13 times, and set a Land Speed Record that stood for 18 years.
He was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America induction came in 1994. He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.