Colorado Springs, CO – The entire Pikes Peak International Hill Climb community is saddened by the death of Al Unser, a champion on Pikes Peak and lifetime ambassador for the Race to the Clouds.
“Al Unser was undoubtedly a champion. His records and achievements speak for themselves. What I remember about Al is how easy he was to work with. He was always polite and gracious to our fans and everyone affiliated with the event,” recalls Bob Gillis, former President, Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Board of Directors.
Al Unser was part of a racing dynasty that reigned on Pikes Peak for decades. While his racing legacy around the world is unquestionably one of the most highly respected, Unser’s first attempt at Pikes Peak resulted in a disqualification before he ever got to compete. When it was discovered he was only 17 years old, not the minimum age of 18, organizers marked his entry with a DQ.
Unser returned in 1960 and finished in 2nd place with a time of 13:37.20. The only competitor to beat him was his brother Bobby who set a new course record of 13:28.5. In 1962 a nearly identical finish occurred with Bobby setting another course record to win the division and Al finishing less than four seconds behind.
Al Unser triumphed in the mid-1960s when he captured impressive back-to-back wins in 1964 in the Vince Conzi-designed racer powered by the famous Offenhauser engine, and again in 1965 with the Eisert/Ford “Harrison Special” by J. Frank Harrison.