Bobby Unser compiled one of the most impressive lists of accomplishments in American racing history. He is one of seven drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 three times and one of only two men to have won the race in three different decades (1968, 1975 and 1981). He was the first driver to average more than 190 miles per hour in the Indianapolis 500 and qualified on the front row nine times. Overall in his career Unser had 35 Indy car wins, 49 poles, eight 500-mile race victories (adding four wins in the California 500 and one in the Pocono 500 to his Indy triumphs), and was the USAC Indy Car champion in 1968 and 1974.
Unser’s success wasn’t limited to open wheel race cars and oval tracks, either. He was nicknamed the “King of Pikes Peak” while winning the famous hill climb 13 times in a variety of cars. His resume also includes four wins in International Race of Champions events and the 1975 IROC championship and recognition as one of the “Top Five Athletes” in Sports Illustrated magazine’s first 20 years.
Bobby Unser is a true Legend of Riverside International Raceway, having raced there in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and like many he is quite emotional when talking about the old Riverside.
“Riverside lasted a long time,” Unser said. “It was a fantastic race track and had an awfully good reputation, and the people that worked it and ran it, everything was all good. I mean really good. I have a lot of good memories about Riverside, and I wish it was still there. I think it was probably the finest road circuit in the United States. To the fans, it didn’t make any difference where on the race track they saw the cars, it was exciting and good. And always competitive!”
Unser’s honors include induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994.
Legends of Riverside is a celebration that began four years ago. Held annually at the Riverside International Automotive Museum, Legends celebrates the racing greats of the era. Past honorees have been Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby and Parnelli Jones.
The event features appearances by more than 50 veteran race drivers — one of the largest gatherings of racers from the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s found in one place at one time. They get together to share their memories of Riverside International Raceway in particular and racing in general while enjoying great food and beverages, and some of them may even be featured in the rarely-seen racing films that are shown throughout the weekend.
In addition to the honors for Unser a number of special awards will be presented to those who contributed so much to our racing heritage. There also will be a silent auction of assorted racing memorabilia, an autograph signing by racing personalities and a display of historic racing cars.
Only 150 tickets are available to the public and proceeds from the event will go to the Tony Stewart Foundation.
For complete information, an updated list of the special attendees, ticket information, accommodations and a complete schedule of events, visit www.LegendsofRiverside.com.
The Riverside International Automotive Museum is located at 815 Marlborough, Riverside, California, and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information call (951) 369-6966 or visit www.RiversideInternational.org.
[Source: Riverside International Automotive Museum]