Alfred Unser (born May 29, 1939 in Albuquerque, New Mexico) is a former American automobile racing driver, the younger brother of Bobby Unser and father of Al Unser, Jr.. 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 is the only person to have both a sibling (Bobby) and child (Al Jr.) as fellow winners. Al's brother Jerry and nephews Johnny and Robby have also competed in the 500.
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.
While driving the Johnny Lightning Special and winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1970 and 1971 for Vel's Parnelli Racing, a team owned by Vel Melatich and Parnelli Jones, he had Mario Andretti and Joe Leonard as his team mates.
Racing career and Indianapolis 500
He won the Indy 500 in 1970, two years after his brother, Bobby. During the race, he led for all but 10 of the 200 laps and averaged 155.749 miles per hour. His quick pit stops were a factor in the victory. That season he won a record 10 times on oval, road and dirt tracks to capture the United States Auto Club national championship.
In 1971 he won the Indy 500 again, starting from the fifth position with an average speed of 157.735 mph.
Starting 1978 Indianapolis 500 from 5th position in an FNCTC Chaparral Lola, he was considered a long shot. He took the lead on lap 75 and won following the fortuitous engine failure of challenger Danny Ongais, averaging 161.363 mph.
Fourth Indy 500 victory
Ongais crashed into the wall during the first week of practice at Indy and was unable to drive. Penske asked Unser to fill in. Both the new Penske PC16 race car and its new Chevy-Ilmor engine had been unreliable throughout testing, practice and qualifying. Penske elected to race the backup car, a 1986 March-Cosworth, the same combination of chassis and engine makes that had won the previous four Indy 500s. The year-old March was removed from a Penske Racing display at a Sheraton hotel in the team's hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania.
At start Unser was in the 20th position. After working his way steadily through the field, he took the lead on the 183rd lap. Averaging 162.175 mph, Unser bested a charging Roberto Guerrero by 4.5 seconds to win his fourth Indy 500, only five days before his 48th birthday. In doing so he tied Foyt as the winningest Indy 500 driver and broke brother Bobby's record as the oldest Indy winner.
As of 2006, Unser has led the most laps of any driver in the history of the Indianapolis 500, at 646.
Unser holds the record of being the oldest driver to ever win the 500 at 47 years old (1987), breaking the previous record set by his brother Bobby.
Unser also won the Champcar championship in 1970, 1983, and 1985.
- In 1998, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
- He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1991.
CART career results
2 championships, 4 victories.
Indianapolis 500 results
|1975||Eagle||Offy||11th||16th||Broken Connecting Rod|
|1994||Lola||Ford-Cosworth||Retired before Qual.|
4 Wins, 1 Pole
|Indianapolis 500 Winners|
Harroun • Dawson • Goux • Thomas • DePalma • Resta • Wilcox • Chevrolet • Murphy • Corum • Boyer • DePaolo • Lockhart • Souders • Keech • Arnold • Schneider • Frame • Cummings • Petillo • Roberts • Davis • Robson • Holland • Parsons • Wallard • Ruttman • Sweikert • Flaherty • Hanks • Bryan • Rathmann • Jones • Clark • Hill • Andretti • Donohue • Sneva • Sullivan • Rahal • Villeneuve • Lazier • Cheever • Brack • Montoya • de Ferran • Rice • Wheldon • Hornish