Cars of Al Unser Sr.

By: conceptcarz.com

Al Unser Sr.

Now in its third decade, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always held the second full weekend in March, 'The Amelia' draws over 250 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other.

1969 King Champ Dirt Car

1969 King Champ Dirt Car

Starting in 1971, the traditional 100-mile races held on the one mile state fairgrounds dirt tracks no longer counted towards the USAC National Championship Series. Instead, those races became their own series. In 1970, the final year under the old system, five dirt races were included in the championship, and title-bound Al Unser won all five with this Ford V8 powered Grand King-built car, known as the Johnny Lightning Special. Having already won two races with the car, in its 1969 debut, Al also captured three of the five starts in the new series in 1971 and 1972. For 1973 and 1974, the team added a second car for Mario Andretti. They combined to win seven out of eight races. Al won the series championship in 1973, with Mario taking home the championship in 1974. Between 1970 and 1973, Al went 'four for four' in the famed Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

1970 PJ Colt Indy Car

1970 P.J. Colt Indy Car

Al Unser, the second driver to win the Indianapolis 500 for a fourth time, captured his first win in 1970, driving this turbocharged V8 Ford-powered, Lola-based P.J. Colt for the partnership of sportsman Vel Miletich and retired '500' winner Parnelli Jones. It marked the first time brothers had been victorious at the Brickyard, since Al's brother Bobby had won the 1968 classic. Al started that year's race classic from the pole position and led for 190 of the 200 laps, surrendering the lead only when making pit stops. George Bignotti scored his fourth of seven victories as chief mechanic.

1971 PJ Colt Indy Car

1971 P.J. Colt Indy Car

In winning the 1971 Indianapolis 500, Al Unser became only the fourth driver to post victories in consecutive years, joining Wilbur Shaw (1939-1940), Mauri Rose (1947-1948) and Bill Vukovich (1953-1954). Contrary to popular perception, Unser's turbocharged Ford-powered, Johnny Lightning-sponsored winning mount was not the 1970 race winner, but an entirely new ride. Based on a 1969 Lola, the latest PJ (for Parnelli Jones) Colt was built by the Vel Miletetich/Parnelli Jones organization under the direction of George Bignotti. During the race, Unser led for 103 laps, never surrendering that lead during the final 82 circuits. Bignotti became the winning chief mechanic for the fifth time.
1973 Vel-Parnelli VPJ-2 Indy Car

1973 Vel-Parnelli VPJ-2 Indy Car

Vel's Parnelli Jones originally built this car at their Torrance shop to run in the 1973 USAC season. The car is powered by a 4-cylinder Offenhauser 36 degree turbo displacing 159 cubic-inches and developing 800 race horsepower coupled to a Hewland Transaxle LG500 4-speed. This #4 JPG-2 was driven by Al Unser who started 2nd in the 1973 Schaefer 500 at Pocono. It crashed on lap 8 breaking the Pocono boiler plate wall causing a red flag until it could be welded. VPJ-2 also qualified at 194.879 mph and started 8th at the 1973 Indy 500 U.S.A.C. race and after leading for 18 laps the car dropped out on lap 75 due to a piston problem finishing 20th. The car was restored as driven in the 1973 U.S.A.C. Championship Series by Al Under, Sr. as part of the 'Viceroy Super Team' along with Mario Andretti in the sister chassis.

1974 Eagle Indy Car

1947 Eagle Indy Car

This is the Sugaripe Prune Special chassis number 74-08. It was driven by Bill Vukovich and in 1975, by Mike Mosley. In 1975, this car was driven in three consecutive races, all with top four finishes, by three legends of open wheel racing, Bobby Unser, Al Unser Sr. and Mario Andretti. Bobby Unser broke his leg, at Michigan, in a finish line crash but still finished third. Al Unser replaced his injured brother at Trenton and finished fourth. Mario Andretti piloted the car at Phoenix and finished third. The car weighs 1,500 pounds and is powered by a four-cylinder Offenhauser engine producing approximately 1,000 horsepower. Shifting is through a Hewland four-speed gearbox and you ride along with 40 gallons of methanol fuel on 15-inch magnesium wheels.

1974 Lola T332

1974 Lola T332

Chassis number HU35 was bought in 1974 by Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing. It was used primarily as a backup car in 1974. Mario Andretti and Al Unser, Sr. drove the car from 1974 to 1976. Al Unser, Sr. went on to win a few races including the 1976 final at Riverside. In 1980 the car was used to build the first Frisbee center seat Can Am car. It was campaigned a few times and replaced by the GB2 purpose built car. The car was rebuilt to its original F5000 configuration by an original former crew member. Steve Simpson took ownership of the car in 1984 and ran it successfully for several years. It recently went through a complete restoration and was put back to its Riverside winning configuration.

1985 Penske-March 85C

1985 Penske-March 85C

After a disappointing 1984 season things changed for Penske in 1985. The combination of the March 85C chassis and the turbocharged 2.65 liter Cosworth DFX V8 proved to be the right setup. This car, chassis number 021, was driven by Al Unser, Sr. at Long Beach, Indianapolis, Portland, Meadowlands, Cleveland, the Michigan 500, Road America, Pocono, the Detroit New 200 at Michigan, Laguna Seca and Tamiami Park helping four time Indy 500 winner Unser earn his second CART Championship. He had one win, 10 top fives and one other top ten en route to the championship, a battle which climaxed in dramatic fashion in the final race of the season. Under, Sr. caught and passed Roberto Moreno for fourth place in the closing laps and thus won the championship by one point over his son. Afterwards he expressed some regret about snatching the championship title from his son, but felt it was his responsibility to his own team and sponsors to race to his ability all the way to the end. It was also in the best interest of supermanship to all competitors not to give favor to his son.

1985 Porsche 962

1985 Porsche 962

The Porsche 962 (also known as the 962C in its Group C form) is a sports-prototype racing car built by Porsche as a replacement for the 956 and designed mainly to comply with IMSA's GTP regulations, although it would later compete in the European Group C formula as had the 956. The 962 was introduced in 1984 and quickly became successful in the hands of factory drivers and privateers alike. It had a remarkably long-lived career, with some examples still proving competitive into the mid-1990s.
1986 March 86C

1986 March 86C

This car won the 1987 Indianapolis 500 race with Al Unser, Sr., driving making it Al's 4th Indianapolis 500 win. Prior to the 1987 race the car was on display at a local hotel in Reading, Pennsylvania. It was raced in the 1986 Indy Car World Series by both Rick Mears and Danny Sullivan. It has an eight-cylinder 2.8-liter engine producing 750 horsepower.

1987 Porsche Project 2708

1987 Porsche Project 2708

Al Holbert, director of Porsche Motorsports North America, wanted to take Porsche to the Indianapolis 500. In 1987 he realized his dream with Project 2708. Porsche assigned the brilliant Hans Mezger to create a new 2.6-liter turbocharged V8. Norbert Singer was charged with chassis design. Al Unser Sr. debuted the new Project 2708 at Laguna Seca in October of 1987. In October of 1988 the program lost its champion when Al Holbert died in a plane crash. The Porsche Indy Car engine project ultimately became a winner: Teo Fabi won the 1989 CART 200-miler at Mid-Ohio with Porsche V-8 power.

1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

This vehicle is the #3, Lilac IROC Series Camaro Z28. The IROC Series was a true World Series of Racing, pitting the invited Champions of Formula One, NASCAR and Indycar, in identical cars from 1974 to 2006. This car competed at the height of the Series, before Formula One drivers were banned from participating. This 'Body in White' was delivered to Banjo Mathews who developed the chassis and then to Penske Racing for fabrication and assembly. Fifteen cars were built with more added to replace those damaged in accidents. This car was raced in the IROC Series V, VI, and V11, from 1978 to 1980. Champions who drove this car include, Al Unser Sr., Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Allison, Johnny Rutherford, Peter Gregg, Bobby Unser, Cale Yarborough, and Tom Sneva. Tracks include Michigan International, Riverside International and Atlanta Motor Speedway. This car was restored in 2016.

The Cars of Al Unser Sr.

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