4-Time Indianapolis 500 Champ Al Unser Sr. Dies at Age 82

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 10, 2021

FILE - Formula 1 race car driver Al Unser is seen in 1993. Unser, one of only four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 a record four times, died Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, following years of health issues. He was 82. (AP Photo, File)
AP Photo, File

Al Unser Sr., one of four drivers to hold the record for Indianapolis 500 wins, died at his home in New Mexico on Thursday. He was 82 years old.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced the news Friday:

Indianapolis Motor Speedway @IMS

An icon and hero to racing fans around the world. <br><br>A history-making and beloved member of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IMS?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#IMS</a> family. <br><br>4-time <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Indy500?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Indy500</a> winner Al Unser has passed away at age 82.<br><br>Godspeed, racer. <a href="https://t.co/PnCm38MOZX">pic.twitter.com/PnCm38MOZX</a>

Unser's first appearance in the Indy 500 came in 1965, and he remained a stalwart in the sport's marquee event through 1994, a three-decade run that included victories in 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987.

The New Mexico native also won three Indy car national championships and recorded 39 victories during his career. He was inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1998.

His four wins in the Indy 500 are among nine by the legendary Unser racing family. His brother Bobby won three and his son, Al Unser Jr., captured two.

Al Unser Jr @alunserjr

My heart is so saddened. My father passed away last night. He was a Great man and even a Greater Father. Rest In Peace Dad!🙏♥️🙏

Bobby Unser died in May, and his son, Bobby Jr., died in June.

Al Unser Sr. remains the oldest winner in Indy 500 history at age 47 in 1987.

"I will always remember Big Al welcoming me to the speedway," fellow four-time winner Helio Castroneves told the Associated Press on Friday. "He and Johnny Rutherford were the two helping me with my rookie orientation. He will be missed."

A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears are the event's other four-time winners.

Unser's other honors include induction in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.