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Bobby Unser

Became A Racing Champion

In 1955 Bobby Unser debuted at Pike's Peak, dubbed "Unser's Peak" because of his family's history of success at the hill climb. He finished fifth that year, behind his two brothers. A year later he won his first of a record 13 championships at Pike's Peak. He won six straight titles from 1958 to 1963. His streak ended in 1964 when his younger brother Al won the race. However, his sweetest victory at "Unser's Peak" came ten years later when he tied his uncle's record of nine wins. "The Unser brothers raced at Pike's Peak to beat each other and most of all to beat Uncle Louis," Unser told Karen Bentley in The Unsers.

Unser's professional racing career took off in 1963 when he raced in his first Indianapolis 500. He crashed early and placed thirty-third. His first Indy-car win came in 1967 at Mosport, Ontario. A year later he not only won his first Indianapolis 500, but also set the record as the first driver to race over 170 miles per hour at Indianapolis. In 1969 Unser won his first USAC National Driving Championship.

Bobby Unser earned a reputation as a driver who not only liked to drive fast, but who also pushed himself and his cars to the limit. On the contrary, younger brother Al Unser was a much more patient driver with a more laid-back personality than Bobby. Al Unser kept the competition tight within the family. Two years after Bobby's first Indianapolis 500 win, Al won the prestigious race and followed up with a second consecutive win in 1971. "It would get tense between me and Al about who would win," Bobby Unser told Karen Bentley, "but it never stayed. We were able to separate business and family — we never really got in a fight."

However, Bobby Unser was not going to let his little brother have all of the glory. In 1972 Unser set another Indianapolis 500 record for the fastest qualifying time at 195.94 miles per hour. In 1974 he won his second USAC National Driving Championship and a year later he won his second Indianapolis 500. In the late 1970s Unser also won several races for Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). In 1980 he became the first driver to win the California 500 four times.

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