32 Facts About Al Unser


The Unser family has won the Indy 500 a record nine times.


Al's nephews Johnny and Robby Al Unser have competed in that race.


Al Unser was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the youngest of four sons of Mary Catherine and Jerome Henry "Jerry" Al Unser.


Joe Al Unser became the first member of the Al Unser family to lose his life to the sport, killed while test-driving an FWD Coleman Special on the Denver highway in 1929.


Al's oldest brother Jerry became the first Al Unser to drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, qualifying 23rd and finishing 31st in the 1958 Indianapolis 500.


Al Unser married Wanda Jesperson in 1958 and they had three children- Alfred Jr.


Al Unser began racing in 1957, at age 18, initially competing primarily in modified roadsters, sprint cars and midgets.


Al Unser won the Indy 500 in 1970, two years after his brother, Bobby.


Al Unser competed in USAC's Stock Car division in 1967, and was the series Rookie of the Year.


Al Unser would continue driving for the team up until 1977.


In 1979, Al Unser departed Jim Hall's team for the Longhorn Racing Team owned by Bobby Hillin Sr.


Al Unser controlled the late stages of the 1983 Indianapolis 500, leading 61 laps.


Al Unser won the IndyCar championships in 1983 and 1985 by winning one race and then having several top-five finishes.


Al Unser's final IROC start was an 11th-place finish at the 1993 Michigan race after winning the pole.


Al Unser started five races in NASCAR, three in the late 1960s and two in 1986.


Al Unser fared less well in two 1986 starts, finishing 29th at Watkins Glen and 20th at Riverside.


Al Unser planned on staying through the week, and if he did not have a ride by the end of the first week of time trials, he was planning to return home.


Al Unser easily put the car in the field on the third day of time trials.


Al Unser rode the wave of his fourth Indy victory to secure a ride at Penske for the Michigan 500, Pocono 500, and Marlboro Challenge for 1987.


Al Unser drove as a substitute for Roberto Guerrero at Nazareth, and had a competitive run until crashing a few laps short of the finish.


Al Unser was then hired to drive the brand new Porsche Indy car at Laguna Seca.


In 1988 and 1989, Al Unser returned to Penske to secure a ride at the three 500-miles races.


Al Unser spent most of the month of May 1991 shopping around for a competitive ride.


In 1992, Al Unser entered the month of May for the second year in a row without a ride.


Al Unser was hired by Team Menard to fill the position vacated by Piquet.


Later in the year, Al Unser was selected to drive as a substitute for the injured Rick Mears at Nazareth.


Al Unser suffered from hereditary haemochromatosis, which contributed to him being diagnosed with liver cancer in 2004 and having a tumor and half of his liver removed in 2005.


Al Unser continued to suffer from cancer for the next 17 years before dying from the disease aged 82 on December 9,2021, in his home in Chama, New Mexico.


Al Unser has led the second most laps of any driver in the history of the Indianapolis 500, at 644.


Al Unser tied Ralph DePalma's long standing record of 612 laps led on the last lap of his 4th victory.


Al Unser holds the record of being the oldest driver to ever win the 500 at 47 years old, breaking the previous record set by his brother Bobby.


Al Unser won two 500-mile races at Pocono and two more at Ontario bringing his total of 500-mile race wins to eight.