The Amazing Unsers: From Albuquerque to Indianapolis

Al Unser, Jr.'s winning cars. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Al Unser, Jr.’s winning cars. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

INDIANAPOLIS – The Unser name has been synonymous with major league racing for decades and this year, the Unser family is being toasted with an impressive exhibit – “The Amazing Unsers: From Albuquerque to Indianapolis” – at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. The exhibit runs from now until the end of October.

Twenty-five cars that the Unser family drove in competition are on display, including eight of the nine that carried them to victory in the Indianapolis 500, starting with the Rislone Eagle that powered Bobby Unser to victory 50 years ago.

By the numbers, Bobby Unser won the famed race three times, his brother, Al Unser, four times and Al’s son, Al Unser, Jr., on two occasions.

All told six Unsers have raced in the Indianapolis 500. The other three are Bobby and Al’s brother, the late Jerry Unser, and his son Johnny, and Robby, Bobby’s son.

Rolling out an exhibit of this magnitude takes an enormous amount of planning and effort but museum staff, working with the Unsers and others, were up for the challenge, doing so in an impressive fashion.

The cars are exhibited in three rooms with another room chock full of Unser memorabilia and paintings on display.
One of the rooms displays Indy cars and another room shows cars raced by the Unsers up Pikes Peak, on dirt tracks along with sports cars and stock cars, too.

In addition, fans can gain additional insight with a walking audio tour available through their respective smart phones.

“It’s really nice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum to honor the Unser family. To showcase all the Unsers at a track where so many great names have raced is very special for us,” said Bobby Unser.

According to Jason Vansickle, assistant curator of the museum, “Bobby’s house is like a museum — all his trophies, helmets, knicknacks, belt buckles and everything he’s collected over the years are there, and he was gracious enough to let us take whatever we wanted.” In all, museum staff toted home some 29 boxes of interesting items to be displayed.

Among the items being showcased are Mom Unser’s famed chili recipe and the pots she used to cook the chili. For many years, Mom and Dad Unser were celebrities at the Speedway in their own right.

Bobby, Al and Al Unser, Jr. have visited the museum to look over the exhibit, and they came away visibly impressed.

“For the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum to honor my family is just tremendous. It’s really hard to put into words how much it actually means,” said Al Unser Jr. “As you go through the exhibit you are going to see my dad’s career, my uncle Bobby’s career, my whole family’s career on display here, it’s just a huge honor and we’re very excited and we truly hope everyone enjoys what we’ve put our heart and soul into.”

The museum expects many onlookers this month but want race fans to know they have from now until October 28 to see it.

Share Button