Big Al, “Uncle” Bobby, Sons Al Jr., Robby And Cousin Johnny Will Drive Together
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced a special family reunion that will – for the first time in history – put five members of the iconic Unser family on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway together at the same time. Patriarchs Al Unser Sr. and brother Bobby will be joined by their sons Al Unser Jr. and Robby as well as nephew Johnny Unser, son of the late Jerry Unser Jr., during the oval exhibition races portion of the SVRA’s June 11-14 Brickyard Invitational weekend program.
Between them, the American heroes represent nine Indianapolis 500 victories and numerous other accolades. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Jr., who last year won the weekend’s feature event – the “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am – also announced he will return to defend his crown in 2015. His cousins Robby and Johnny will join him in that field, which is expected to attract 33 Indianapolis 500 veterans. There are 24 entries to date.
“I understand what the name Unser means to race fans, especially in Indianapolis,” says SVRA President & CEO Tony Parella. “I speak for everyone at SVRA to say we are so honored this great family agreed to be a part of our weekend and in race cars on the track together for first time. We love not just celebrating the great history here, but creating it as well.”
Parella is working with IMS officials to put the three Unsers who won the “500” in one of their winning entries. Last year Bobby Unser was reunited with his 1981 Penske winner to the delight of fans as he led all other drivers in the oval exhibition.
Al Unser Sr. is one of only three drivers to win the “500” four times, and one of five to win the storied race in consecutive years, 1970-71. A three-time Indy car champion (1970, ’83, ’85) Unser was among the rare breed that could drive any type of car on any venue, including sports cars, stock cars, modifieds and dirt cars. The four-time Hoosier Hundred victor drove and won in sprints, midgets, Formula 5000 and stock cars to name a few. The Hall of Fame super star was USAC stock car rookie of the year in 1967 and IROC champion in 1978. In his final Indianapolis 500 (1987) win he broke Ralph De Palma’s 67-year-old record for most career laps led in the historic race. “Big Al” will also serve as Grand Marshall for the weekend.
Bobby Unser, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975 and in 1981 also captured the national driving championship in 1968 and 1974. Known as a versatile talent the International Hall of Fame driver won the 1975 International Race of Champions (IROC) and scored more Pikes Peak Hill Climb victories than anyone in history. A proven winner in sprint cars and midgets he also competed in NASCAR, Formula One and sports cars. An outstanding development driver Unser is credited with much of the input to the design of the “Gurney Flap,” an integral element of racing wings. He was also vital to the development of the first in-house Penske chassis to win the Indianapolis 500.
Al Unser Jr. is a two-time Indy car champion (1990 and 1994) and the winner of 34 Indy car races including the 1992 and ’94 Indianapolis 500s. His 1992 Indianapolis 500 victory is the closest finish in history with a margin of just 43 ten-thousandths of a second over second-place Scott Goodyear. Another versatile driver, he was a winner in World of Outlaws sprint car racing; 1982 Can-Am champion and IROC champion in 1986 and again in 1988. He’s also a two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1986 and ’87. Like his father and uncle he enjoyed tremendous success as a star driver for Roger Penske’s team, which provided his winning entry for the 1994 “500.”
Johnny’s father Jerry was the first of the family to crack into the Indianapolis 500 field in 1958. Unfortunately he lost his life practicing at the track the following year. Following Dad’s footsteps, Johnny is a veteran of five consecutive Indianapolis 500s beginning in 1996. He remains active in the sport as an Indy car official, technical advisor and spokesperson for Cooper Tires as well as mentor to young, aspiring drivers.
Robby Unser is an accomplished driver in his own right. He competed in two Indianapolis 500s finishing fifth and eighth. He was Indy Racing League rookie of the year in 1998 with two runner-up race finishes. True to his family’s legacy he won eight Pikes Peak Hill Climbs.
Like last year, Robby and Al Jr. will compete for honors in the “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am for Indy 500 veterans. It is a 40-minute race of American muscle cars on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course on Saturday, June 13. All veterans will have 1963 to 1972 vintage 355 cubic inch Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of the “Group 6” SVRA class. Professionals will be paired with amateur drivers, splitting stints at the wheel at their discretion.
The Pro-Am is the Brickyard Invitational’s crowning event but there is also a festival of other activities. As noted above the Unsers will lead the storied 2.5-mile oval exhibition runs by a wide variety of cars including several of the crowd-favorite 1950’s Indianapolis 500 “roadsters.” The 2015 weekend not only promises a huge gathering of race cars but also some of the finest collector cars. Motostalgia, with offices in Austin, Mexico City and Monaco will stage a June 12 auction of select automobiles from around the world. The Brickyard Invitational will also expand out onto the world-famous infield IMS golf course with car corrals for organizations and clubs united by special marques and vintages.
The SVRA has 11 groups of race cars spanning 100 years of vintage machines and all will be at IMS. The array of entries include select pre-war machines, classic sports cars, Formula One and Le Mans prototypes as current as 2009. Race fans can enjoy every minute of the action with overnight camping inside IMS. Pro-Am cars and drivers will also participate in a Fan Walk through the starting grid prior to the opening ceremonies allowing fans to see the cars up close, take photos and chat with the drivers. All entry fees will be donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum Foundation.
Brickyard Invitational ticket information: Fans can order Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational tickets for all or any one of the four days of the event online through the Speedway or by calling 800-822-INDY or 317-492-6700 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Fans can also visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at 4790 West 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information. Children 12 and under are admitted free each day when accompanied by an adult. Tent camping passes in the IMS infield start at $30 and are available all four days.