Al Unser Jr., three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, dies at 82

Al Unser Jr., the four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and one of the greatest drivers of all time, died Monday at the age of 82. On Tuesday morning, Tony George, the president and…

Al Unser Jr., three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, dies at 82

Al Unser Jr., the four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and one of the greatest drivers of all time, died Monday at the age of 82.

On Tuesday morning, Tony George, the president and chief executive of the IRL, who worked with Unser for many years, issued the following statement:

To Al Unser Jr., the driving legend and indomitable ambassador for racing who has graced the walls of the Indiana State Fair and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for more than 50 years, the star of the Indy 500 25 years ago, the winner of the U.S. Auto Club National Championship and Series Player of the Year in 1977, I wish to extend my personal condolences to his family, friends and fans. His legend will live on, and as a mark of respect, and as my way of honoring the driver and the man for all that was great in open-wheel racing, we have decided to retire Al’s number, 34, from the Indianapolis 500.

Although Unser had only competed in 24 Indy 500s, he was, perhaps, the greatest driver of all time. Known as “The Brazilian Comet,” Unser was tireless on the track and was a genuine champion for the drivers. He won the lead-lap duel in the 1979 race, beating in-form Juan Manuel Fangio and racing legend Rick Mears. In 1991, Unser was the first American to win the Formula One World Championship, and he had won the Green Flag Trophy as the most beloved driver in Formula One racing in 1990. He won his first four consecutive championships in 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987, before finishing with two in 1990. For his efforts, Unser was inducted into the International Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1992.

In October, eight months after he retired from open-wheel racing, Unser ran the 100th Indy 500. He was fourth in his final race of the season.

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