SONOMA, California – Think of the great names in IndyCar Series history and Bobby Unser is always on that list.
He was a fast and fearless “Hard Charger” – the older brother of Al Unser that would form the most successful brother combination in racing history. Affectionately known as “Uncle Bobby” by his nephew Al Unser, Jr., he was the Unser that punished a race car, getting it to drive as fast as it would go and that got him into victory lane 35 times in his IndyCar racing career including three victories in the Indianapolis 500 including his final season as a race driver in 1981.
Those 35 victories placed him fifth on the all-time career list behind little brother Al’s 39, Michael Andretti’s 42, Mario Andretti’s 52 and A.J. Foyt’s 67 IndyCar wins.
Unser now has company at the No. 5 spot. Scott Dixon’s victory in Sunday’s Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma was the 35th win of his career and that ties the driver from Auckland, New Zealand with “Uncle Bobby” on the all-time list.
Unser sent Dixon his congratulations just moments after the checkered flag dropped at Sonoma Raceway.
"Scott Dixon is a very, very good driver and records are made to be broken,” Unser said from his vacation home in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. “I've been watching Scott race for years. I've been watching Scott since he started racing Indy cars when he was real young and he was successful almost immediately. He's truly a great driver and drives with a lot of vigor.
“I am happy for Scott and at his young age I am sure he'll get another win or lots to pass our 35 Indy car wins we now share together. Scott's a racer; he truly knows how to drive a car, for sure. I just wish Chip (Ganassi, Dixon’s team owner) would give him a stock car, sprinter or midget to race in, I am sure he'd win in those too. I am betting he'd win in anything he runs, if given the chance.”
The 34-year-old Dixon was humbled when he was told of Unser’s comments after the race at Sonoma.
“As I've said before, I think stats are something you look back on when you are maybe leaving the car,” Dixon replied. “As I've said, hopefully you're happy with them. To me it's very eye opening, pretty crazy to think that we're on the short list last year with Unser, Andretti and Foyt ahead of us. But a lot of credit goes to the team I've been with. I've been with Ganassi for 13 years. To get all those victories, all but one of them have been with that team. With the longevity that I've had, it's going to amount to hopefully something.
“I obviously respect those drivers from the past. It's something that I think I'll reflect on probably when I've retired.”