The Untold Truth Of Al Unser Sr.

On Thursday, December 9, Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Sr. died at his New Mexico home. He was 82. The legendary race car driver had been living with cancer for nearly two decades, according to CNN. The Indianapolis 500 champion also held the record for most laps led during the race. Surviving Unser are his Susan Unser, and his son, Al Unser Jr.

On the topic of Unser's death, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles said in a statement, "He will be remembered as one of the best to ever race at Indianapolis and we will all miss his smile, sense of humor, and his warm, approachable personality" (via CNN).

The death of Al Unser Sr. is a tremendous loss for the racing community. The untold truth of Al Unser Sr. is that in this particular instance, championship-level success ran in the family. He also held several records related to the iconic competition that are unlikely to be soon surpassed.

Al Unser Sr. won the Indianapolis 500 four times

Al Unser Sr.'s most notable career accomplishment is bringing home the Borg-Warner Championship Driver's Trophy more times than any other race car driver in the history of the sport. Unser Sr. first raced in the competition in 1965 alongside other legendary names like Mario Andretti and Gordon Johncock, per the Indianapolis Motor Speedway website. He would finish ninth that year, but would try again, several more times, until 1970, when he finally won.

Following that success, Unser would win the Indy 500 four more times, first in 1971, and then again in 1978, and finally, in 1987, according to Britannica. Another important contribution Unser Sr. made to auto racing came in 1976 when he ran the race with the Cosworth DFX engine, the most commonly used engine in Indy car racing over the course of the next decade. Unser finished seventh that year, but his 27 career appearances in the competition ranks as third most all time.

His son also won the Indy 500

Al Unser Sr. was only one of three members of the Unser family to win the Indianapolis 500, per ESPN. Al Unser Jr. (pictured above) also won the competition twice, first in 1992, and again two years later in 1994, according to NBC Sports. This makes Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr. the only father and son duo to ever win the race.

Championships aside, the first time Unser Jr. ever competed in the marquee auto event was against his own father in 1983. Unser Sr. would place second that year in tight competition with Tom Sneva, who won. Unser Jr. took some blame for his father's second place finish, according to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway website.

On the topic of his first appearance in the Indy 500, Unser Jr. said, "Well, first off, I wasn't blocking for my dad. If I was blocking for my dad, my dad would have won that race!" Nevertheless, Unser Jr. remained proud that he and his father were the only father and son to ever participate in the Indy 500, competing against one another.

His brother won the Indy 500 first

The Unser legacy at the Indy 500 goes beyond just the records set by father and son. Unser Sr.'s own brother Bobby also won the race three times, making Al Sr. and Bobby the only two brothers who have ever accomplished the feat. Bobby Unser won the race first in '68, three years before his brother, and then again in '75 and '81, according to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway website.

Bobby Unser's 1981 finish was controversial. Mario Andretti was originally declared the victor due to a violation on the part of Unser, who crossed the finish line first, according to Britannica. Bobby Unser appealed the decision and was eventually declared the winner, making him the oldest race car driver ever to win at 47, a distinction that would be held until Al Unser Sr. won again at the age 48, a record that stands to this very day. In light of all this, the Unser family is without a doubt the first family of car racing.