Indiana State University Newsroom



Racing legend Bobby Unser to speak Nov. 8 at State

October 28, 2017

Indy racing legend Bobby Unser is making a pit stop at Indiana State University to talk about his life experiences and what it takes to win at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 in Tilson Auditorium.

Unser is a three-time Indianapolis 500 champion, two-time national champion and has 35 career IndyCar victories.

"Success is where preparation and opportunity meet," Unser said.

His most memorable win at Indianapolis 500 is his first one in 1968. "I knew how to go fast, but I didn't know how to win," Unser said. "It's all about concentration. Think about a girl, a car, or any item you really want you may focus on it briefly. But racecar drivers have to be able to concentrate for three hours. You'll see someone doing good in the first half of a race, and then he spins and hits the wall. They'll say they don't know what happened, but really they just lost their concentration." 

After Unser's last win at Indy 500 in 1981, he decided to retire from IndyCar.

"Successful as my racing career has been, my family life, in a lot of ways, has been a failure," Unser said. "For the first time, I realized that I had been thinking only of Bobby Unser and perhaps it was time to think about my family. You're not successful unless you spend part of every day with your kids."

Unser didn't leave the spotlight after his retirement. He worked as an ABC sports commentator, a column writer for Sports Afield magazine and still racing occasionally at Pike's Peak and Fastmasters Championship for drivers over 50.

"By the time I retired my son, Bobby Jr., and my nephew, Al Jr., had already begun their racing careers," Unser said. "I wanted to stay close to the sport and also be available to help the next generation of Unser drivers."

Unser has also demonstrated focus and endurance outside the racetrack. In December 1996, Unser and a friend were snowmobiling near his ranch in New Mexico when both snowmobiles broke down.

"We spent two days without food or water trying to find our way home on foot," Unser said. "We had to endure temperatures as low as negative four degrees. Luckily we survived the experience without injury."
The racecar legend had been inducted into the International Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, as well as the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame.

"Desire! That's the one secret of every man's career," Unser said. "Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire," Unser said.

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Photo: https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Submitted-Photos/Staff-Uploads/i-3C2sbXs/0/355bfa04/O/BobbyUnser2.jpg -- Bobby Unser

Writer: Antonio Turner, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, aturner41@sycamores.indstate.edu or 812-237-3773