INDIANAPOLIS — Condolences began pouring in Friday morning after the news that four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser died Thursday night in New Mexico after an extended illness.
Unser was 82.
His son, Al Unser Jr. posted a message on Twitter early Thursday morning about his father's passing:
Unser won two of his four Indy 500s while driving for Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske's race teams, including his record-tying fourth victory. Penske issued this statement on Unser's passing Friday morning:
“We have lost a true racing legend and a champion on and off the track. Al was the quiet leader of the Unser family, a tremendous competitor and one of the greatest drivers to ever race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. From carrying on his family’s winning tradition at Pikes Peak to racing in NASCAR, sports cars, earning championships in INDYCAR and IROC and, of course, becoming just the second driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, Al had an amazing career that spanned nearly 30 years. He produced two championships and three wins for our race team, including his memorable victory in the 1987 Indy 500 when he famously qualified and won with a car that was on display in a hotel lobby just a few days before. We were honored to help Al earn a place in history with his fourth Indy victory that day, and he will always be a big part of our Team. Our thoughts are with the Unser family as they mourn the loss of a man that was beloved across the racing world and beyond.”
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb shared his own statement regarding Unser's death:
“It’s truly a sad day for race fans around the world in saying goodbye to racing royalty Al Unser Sr. This one man cast a such a long iconic shadow over the entire sport and gave fans and families so many priceless memories we’ll hold on to forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with the generations of Unser’s who mourn the loss of one of the all-time greats and carry on his family tradition.”
Speedway President Doug Boles posted his thoughts on Unser's career and accomplishments on Twitter Friday morning:
"In the 112 years of racing that has taken place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Al Unser's career stands out among the others. His four Indianapolis 500 wins and most laps led (644) in a career driving in the the 500 solidify him as as one of the greatest of all time. Al achieved his successes competing against many of the best our sport has ever seen, which makes his accomplishments on the track even more impressive. Al's combination of his quiet and humble approach outside the car with his fierce competitive spirit and fearless talent behind the wheel, made him a fan favorite. 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. Our thoughts and prayers are with Susan Unser, the entire Unser family, and all Al's friends and fans."
The Motor Speedway shared some vintage footage of Unser's career in its tweet.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett shared the Speedway's tweet, adding his own message, "This morning our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of 4x #Indy500 champion Al Unser. Our condolences go out to his friends and family, as we remember the life of a legend who inspired generations of racing fans in Indianapolis and across the world."
Takuma Sato shared an image of the Borg Warner trophy with Unser as a fellow Indy 500 winner, and recalled Unser's speech during Sato's baby Borg trophy ceremony earlier this year.
Hélio Castroneves joined Unser in the four-time winner's club earlier this year and shared his condolences on social media with a simple message, "You will b(e) missed!"
“I will always remember Big Al welcoming me to the speedway,” Castroneves told The Associated Press on Friday. “He and Johnny Rutherford were the two helping me with my rookie orientation.”
Al Unser: May 29, 1939 - Dec. 9, 2021
Here are more condolences posted on social media: