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Bobby Unser

More Controversy Off The Tracks

Although Unser retired from Indy cars, he did not stop racing altogether. In 1983 Unser was the owner and manager of the car that won Pike's Peak, driven by his nephew, Al, Jr. Three years later Unser himself won the race, setting a record 13 wins at "Unser Peak." In 1991 Unser participated in the 24 Hours of Daytona Race with his brother Al, his nephew Al Jr., and his son Robby. In 1993 he set a new land speed record of 223.709 miles per hour racing a gas-modified roadster. The same year he also won the Fastmasters Championship for drivers over 50 years old.

Awards and Accomplishments

1950-51 Southwest Modified Stock Car Championship
1956, 1958-63, 1965-66, 1968-69, 1974, 1986 Pike's Peak Hill Climb Winner
1968, 1975 Indianapolis 500 winner
1969, 1974 United States Auto Club National Champion
1974 Martini and Rossi Driver of the Year
1974, 1976, 1979-81 California 500 Champion
1975 International Race of Champions title
1979 Six Championship Auto Racing Teams wins
1980 Pocono 500 Champion
1990 Inducted into Auto Racing Hall of Fame
1993 Fastmasters Champion
1994 Inducted into International Motorsports Hall of Fame
2000 Inducted into Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame

Unser also did not leave the public spotlight when he retired. In 1987 he began working as a commentator for ABC Sports Television. Unser's commentary was very blunt and he did not always agree with his coworkers on the air. Unser later found another media outlet for his expertise; in 2001 he began writing a column about off-road vehicles for Sports Afield magazine.

This was not the only public attention Unser received after his retirement. In 1994 Unser made national news for assaulting a police officer at the Albuquerque International Airport. He was stopped by the police officer for speeding, began arguing with the officer, and then pushed her. He was charged with misdemeanor assault, resisting arrest, and careless driving.

Two years later Unser had another encounter with the law. In December of 1996 he and a friend, Robert Gayton, were snowmobiling in the mountains near Unser's ranch in Chama, New Mexico. Both snowmobiles broke down and the pair spent two days trying to find their way home on foot. They had no food or water and they had to endure temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius, as well as 70 mile per hour winds. Luckily Unser and his friend survived the experience without injury. However, it was later discovered that Unser had been driving in the San Juan Wilderness of the Rio Grande National Forest near the Colorado and New Mexico border. Unser had violated the Wilderness Act of 1964 by riding his snowmobile in a federally protected area. Unser was convicted of the misdemeanor on June 12, 1997. The maximum penalty was $5,000 and six months in jail, but Unser was only fined $75 because of his harrowing ordeal in the mountains. Despite the small fine, Unser was outraged by the conviction and as a matter of principle he filed an appeal. The conviction was upheld by the Tenth United States Circuit Court of Appeals on January 5, 1999.

Whether on or off the track Unser was never afraid to speak his mind, particularly when he felt he had been treated unjustly. Bobby Unser has helped build the legacy of the Unser family in racing through his own prestigious career as well as by mentoring the next generation of Unser racers.

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