Al Unser, four-time Indy 500 winner, dead at 82 – Fox News

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Four-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves enters The Fox Garage to talk about his record-tying victory, staying competitive at age 46 and his plans for next year.
Al Unser, a driver who won the Indianapolis 500 four times during his career, died Thursday following a long illness at his home in Chama, New Mexico, Indianapolis Motor Speedway said early Friday.
President Ronald Reagan gets a helmet from race car driver Al Unser. (Diana Walker/Getty Images)
Known as “Big Al” once his own son made a name for himself in racing, Unser is part of an elite club of four-time winners of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” 
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Unser won the Indy 500 in 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987, and is the only driver in history to have both a sibling and a child also win one of the biggest races in the world.
Unser (second from left) poses with four-time Indy 500 winners A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves (AP)
Takuma Sato, an IndyCar driver, took to Twitter to post a tribute to Unser. 
“Rest In Peace an incredible three time @IndyCar champion and four time #INDY500 winner Al Unser,” he posted. “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.”
Sato was referring to the 18-inch replica of the Indy 500 winner’s Borg-Warner Trophy that is kept at the speedway’s museum. Unser was honored in May alongside friends and family, the Associated Press reported. The report also said that he was set to be honored in 2020 on the 50th anniversary of his 1970 victory at Indianapolis, but the celebration was postponed due to the pandemic.
Al Unser Sr. drives the Marmon Wasp during the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 29, 2016. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Helio Castroneves, who became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner this May, said “I will always remember Big Al welcoming me to the speedway. He and Johnny Rutherford were the two helping me with my rookie orientation. He will be missed.”
Unser was born in in Albuquerque in 1939 to a family of racers. His father Jerry Unser and two uncles, Louis and Joe, were also drivers. Beginning in 1926 the family began competing in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, an annual road race held in Colorado.
Al’s oldest brother, Jerry, became the first Unser to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1958; he was killed in a crash during practice the following year.
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Unser began racing himself in 1957 when he was 18, but competed mostly in sprint cars. He made it to Indy in 1965 and was part of the rookie class with future Indy 500 winners Mario Andretti (1969) and Gordon Johncock (1973, 1984).
“Some days the race track smiles on you and some days, you got it the other way,” Unser said. “It’s not always that you’re going to think you’re going to win because your chances are very slim. There’s 32 other guys who want it as bad as you do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

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