Al Unser Sr. pilots his 1978 Lola race car during the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2014. (Image: Lola Cosworth T500 “First National City Special” by Nic Redhead | CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Even casual race fans have undoubtedly heard the name Al Unser. As perhaps the most prominent member of a legendary racing family, he helped cement the Unser legacy in automotive history.

Unser Sr. is one of only four drivers to win the fabled Indy 500 race four times, and secured the national championship in American open-wheel racing a total of three times. Unser Sr. competed in several race series, including Indycar, USAC Champ Car, and NASCAR, with dozens of race wins, podium finishes, and pole positions to his credit.

Together with his brother Bobby and son, Al Unser Jr., the trio have combined to win the Indy 500 a total of nine times.

Unser Sr. began his racing career in the late 1950s, competing in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in 1965. In 1970, he recorded his first Indy 500 win, and followed it up with another Indy 500 victory in 1971—making him one of only five drivers to ever win it in back-to-back years. (He almost won it in 1973 too, finishing second behind Mark Donohue.)

His final Indy 500 victory was in 1987, before retiring in 1994. Unser’s career wrapped with 39 IndyCar wins, which put him at six on the all-time IndyCar win list.

Unser Sr. passed away Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 82 years old.

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