Al Unser Sr., a true legend in every right in the world of motorsports, has passed away at the age of 82. Helio Castroneves revealed the news through a post on his Instagram on Thursday evening, which included both drivers in a photo with the Borg-Warner Indianapolis 500 trophy.
In the caption, Castroneves said, “RIP AL SR…you will b missed!”
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway has since confirmed Unser’s passing after a longtime battle with cancer.
An icon and hero to racing fans around the world.
A history-making and beloved member of the #IMS family.
4-time #Indy500 winner Al Unser has passed away at age 82.
Godspeed, racer. pic.twitter.com/PnCm38MOZX
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) December 10, 2021
Unser was a four-time champion of the Indianapolis 500. To date, there are only four drivers who have ever scored four Indy 500 wins. A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves are the other three drivers who have accomplished the feat.
Unser took home three IndyCar Series Championships.
In addition to his legendary career in open wheel racing, Unser ran a total of five races in the NASCAR Cup Series. While he didn’t score a victory in stock car racing’s top tier series, Unser did record a pair of fourth-place finishes, one at the 1968 Daytona 500 and one at Riverside in 1969.
Unser’s final NASCAR Cup Series start came in 1986 at Riverside.
The New Mexico-native was also the champion of the International Race of Champions (IROC) Series in 1978 and he was part of the winning Porsche 962 team in the 1985 24 Hours at Daytona.
The Unser family has amassed nine Indianapolis 500 victories total between Al Unser Sr., his brother Bobby Unser as well as his son Al Unser Jr.
Unser Jr. tweeted his sadness in reaction to the passing of his father on Friday.
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!🙏♥️🙏
— Al Unser Jr (@alunserjr) December 10, 2021
Roger Penske released a statement on the passing of Al Unser Sr.:
“We have lost a true racing legend and a champion on and off the track. Al was the quiet leader of the Unser family, a tremendous competitor and one of the greatest drivers to ever race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. From carrying on his family’s winning tradition at Pikes Peak to racing in NASCAR, sports cars, earning championships in INDYCAR and IROC and, of course, becoming just the second driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, Al had an amazing career that spanned nearly 30 years. He produced two championships and three wins for our race team, including his memorable victory in the 1987 Indy 500 when he famously qualified and won with a car that was on display in a hotel lobby just a few days before. We were honored to help Al earn a place in history with his fourth Indy victory that day, and he will always be a big part of our Team. Our thoughts are with the Unser family as they mourn the loss of a man that was beloved across the racing world and beyond.”
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Track President J. Douglas Boles also released a statement, which read:
“In the 112 years of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Al Unser’s career stands out among the others. His four Indianapolis 500 wins and most laps led in the ‘500’ (644) solidify him as one of the greatest of all time. Al achieved his successes competing against many of the best our sport has ever seen, which makes his accomplishments even more impressive. In addition, his quiet and humble approach outside of the car, combined with his fierce competitive spirit and fearless talent behind the wheel, made Al a fan favorite. He will be remembered as one of the best to ever race at Indianapolis, and we will all miss his smile, sense of humor and his warm, approachable personality. Our thoughts and prayers are with Susan Unser, the entire Unser family and all Al’s friends and fans.”
This news is already starting to send shockwaves through the motorsports community.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato tweeted his condolences to the Unser family early Friday morning:
Rest In Peace an incredible three time @IndyCar champion and four time #INDY500 winner Al Unser. It was my absolute honor to attend his baby @BorgTrophy ceremony. His speech was very funny and so charming. Huge respect. My deepest condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/hGwXWx3dcI
— Takuma Sato (@TakumaSatoRacer) December 10, 2021