2017 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance Honors
Al Unser, Sr.
Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, Sr. has been named the honoree for the 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, March 10, 11 & 12, 2017.
Despite his extraordinary racing versatility, Unser’s Indianapolis 500 stats alone are extraordinary. Three decades ago he became one of just three racers to win the ‘500” four times and is the only Indy winner to have both a brother and a son who are “500” winners.
“Big Al” has led the most Indy 500 laps in history (644), tying 1915 Indy 500 winner Ralph DePalma’s long standing record (612 Indy 500 laps led) on the final lap of his fourth ‘500’ victory in 1987. On that same day Unser, Sr. became the oldest Indy 500 winner (just five days short of his 48th birthday) breaking his older brother Bobby’s record with a year-old March-Cosworth that had been displayed in the lobby of a hotel in Reading, PA just weeks earlier.
In 1970, the year of his first Indy 500 victory, Unser won a record (shared with Foyt) ten times on ovals and road courses winning all five dirt track races to capture the United States Auto Club’s National Championship. In 1978 he became the only racer to win all three national championship 500 mile races in a single season. “Big Al” was also the 1987 IROC (International
Race of Champions) titlist. An accomplished road racer, Unser won the 1985 Rolex 24 at Daytona with AJ Foyt, Bob Wolleck and Thierry Boutsen. Naturally he shares the Unser family’s genetic predisposition for winning multiple Pikes Peak Hillclimbs (1964 & ’65). He had to beat brother Bobby for his first Pike’s Peak win in 1964 and he set a record in the process.
From superspeedways to dirt tracks, road courses to hillclimbs, racing sprinters, prototypes, Indy Cars, sports cars, Formula 5000, Can-Am, even NASCAR stockers, “Big Al” was fast and very much at home. His versatility and skill were so highly regarded that offers from Williams and McLaren to try Formula 1 came his way.
“The 100th running of the Indy 500 has made us even more nostalgic than usual,” said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “When we started to think about an honoree for 2017 ’Big Al’ seemed like the perfect choice. Next May is the 30th anniversary of ‘Big Al’s’ fourth ‘500’ victory and the 60th anniversary of his first race win: perfect bookends to an extraordinary career. We were very flattered when he agreed to join us in 2017.”