*
Formula 1 race car driver Al Unser is seen in 1993. Unser, among only four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 a record four times, passed away Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, following years of health issues.AP
Al Unser, among only four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 a record four times, passed away Thursday complying with a long illness. He was 82.

You are watching: Drivers who died at indy 500

Indianapolis engine Speedway said beforehand Friday the Unser passed away at his home in Chama, new Mexico, through his wife, Susan, through his side. He had been battling cancer for 17 years.

Unser is the 3rd member of one of America’s most renowned racing families to dice in 2021. His earliest brother,three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser, died in May,and Bobby Unser Jr. Passed 6 weeks after his father.

Known together “Big Al” once his own son do a surname for self in racing, Unser is part of one elite club of four-time winners of “The greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Unser won the Indy 500 in 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987, and is the just driver in history to have both a sibling and also a child also win one of the biggest races in the world.

His final victory at age 47 made that the oldest winner in Indy 500 history. Unser won 3 Indy car national championships end his career and 39 victories. He led 644 full laps in ~ Indianapolis.

*
Al Unser is congratulated through his mom after to win the 54th running of the Indianapolis 500 auto gyeongju at Indianapolis motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Ind., on might 30, 1970.AP

The Unser family linked for a document nine wins in the Indy 500; Al Jr. Winner the Indy 500 twice — in 1992 and 1994. Coincidentally, Al Unser, Al Unser Jr. And also Bobby Unser all won their final Indy 500s driving for i get it Penske.

Unser previously this year was at Indianapolis motor Speedway to welcome Helio Castroneves together the newest member of the four-time winners club. Unser achieved the feat after ~ A.J. Foyt, and also Rick Mears winner his 4th in 1991. Castroneves won in may to come to be the an initial new member in 30 years.

“Some job the race track smiles top top you and also some days, you obtained it the other way,” Unser said throughout the July celebration. “It’s not always that she going to think you’re going come win due to the fact that your opportunities are really slim. There’s 32 other males who want it as negative as you do.”

*
Al Unser in his Parnelli /VPJ (21) overcome Tom Sneva’s McLaren/Cosworth (8) in the first turn the the first lap on Sunday, may 29, 1977, in Indianapolis’ 500-mile race.AP

Unser got his “Baby Borg” — the 18-inch replica the the Indy 500 winner’s Borg-Warner Trophy that resides onsite in the speedway’s museum — throughout a solemn event in may with family and also friends. That was collection to be honored in 2020 on the 50th anniversary of his 1970 victory at Indianapolis, but the celebration was postponed since of the pandemic.

Both Castroneves and two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato lauded Unser on society media, v Sato phone call Unser’s decided at the may winner’s consciousness “very funny and also so charming.”

“Huge respect,” Sato said.

*
Formula 1 race automobile driver Al Unser waves three fingers in victory Lane in ~ Indianapolis motor Speedway after winning the 62nd Indianapolis 500 in Indianapolis, Ind., on may 28, 1978.AP

The youngest of 4 racing brothers, Unser was born in Albuquerque in 1939 come a family of hardcore racers. His father, Jerry Unser, and also two uncles, Louis and Joe, were additionally drivers. Beginning in 1926, the family started competing in the Pikes Peak global Hill Climb, an annual road race organized in Colorado.

Al’s oldest brother, Jerry, ended up being the first Unser come qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1958; he was killed in a crash throughout practice the following year.

See more: Did Texas Secede From The Union, The Movement To Make Texas Its Own Country

Unser started racing self in 1957 when he was 18, however competed greatly in sprint cars. He made it to Indy in 1965 and was part of the rookie course with future Indy 500 winners Mario Andretti (1969) and Gordon Johncock (1973, 1984).