As Thar will only ever be one Uncle bobby!
Yeah, it’s Old News now, which caught me by surprise when I first heard about it on Racer.com Monday, following the Tex-Arse’ Double Header IndyCar weekend. And I was uncertain ‘bout writing about it since it’s already been National News that’s long since Moved On due to our never ending insatiable 24/7 News Cycle.
Yet surely everybody has a “Uncle bobby” story or three, Righto? As I must confess I didn’t originally know about bobby Unser the Driver since he retired before I began following Open Wheel Racing in earnest. Although my introduction to Indy Cars came as a Wee lad’ Wayback in the 1970’s, but all I really remember now is the voices of Jim McKay and Chris Shenkel calling the Indianapolis 500 on a Tape-delayed format on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
While I’d have to say my all-time favourite IndyCar TV Broadcast Booth Trio will forever be Paul Page as “MC” or Referee? With Uncle bobby and his veritable Punching Bag Sam Posey! For which I’ll forever remember Unser’s denoting Thar’s some Slippery liquids On-track! And the perfunctory “No, you’re Wrong Sam!” Endless retorts….
Later on, Bobby’s notoriety grew After once punching an Albuquerque Policema at the Airport, when I think he was trying to issue him a Parking Citation. Along with Stealing an Army Tank or getting lost Snowmobiling “Out-of-Bounds,” with the National Guard being sent to find Him!.
Not to mention my personal favourite, when reputedly throwing a lighter into his demolished Rolls Royce during a Demolition Derby!
As I heard about this on a long ago edition of Speed Freaks, when they were interviewing Cary Agajanian, son of the legendous’ Promoter J.c. Agajanian.
As it was Carey who claimed bobby threw a lighter into the Rolls, which probably was a Silver Shadow model? Since according to the New York times Archives article dated February 23, 1973. This Demolition Derby was touted as the World’s Richest Demolition Derby featuring some 30 vehicles including Rufus Parnelli Jones in a Cadillac Eldorado and Uncle bobby in the aforementioned Rolls Royce. Noting that Unser stuffed the nose of the Rolls after Jumping a Hay bale before everybody Ganged Up on Unser and continuously rammed him!
The event took part sometime in early 1973 in the Los Angeles Coliseum with almost 24,000 Fans paying $156,000 to Attend! And after the Demolition Derby concluded, multiple vehicles were piled up in the center before Daredevil Extraordinaire Evel Knievel Jumped the mass of twisted carnage! Reportedly jumping a further distance than his famous Caser’s Palace Fountain’s Jump.
And this whole Spectacle may have also been shown on ABC’s Wide World of Sports sometime that same year?
As I had the good fortune of meeting Bobby Unser once in person at the IMS Flagroom, a wonderful “Watering Hole” popular Destination with All of the Drivers and Fans. Which Sadly as far as I know has been Closed for No good reason now for years, Sigh!
The year was 2012, when I was attending my third Indy 500 and No Fenders Offical’ Photographer Carpets’ spotted Uncle Bobby naturally Holding Court in the Flagroom, before asking me if I wanted his autograph? So Dave went and inquired with a then 78 year old Unser who said he had to go meet some people but would be back in 5mins, to which Dave said may be he’s Ducking Out on us?
But true to his word, Bobby returned and after Dave guided me towards Uncle Bobby, telling me everything I couldn’t Ask HIM! Bobby promptly stuck out his hand to me before pumping it firmly. Then after signing a Miller Lite table-top Advert’, he turned round and put his hand on my shoulder and began directing me which way to stand and look at the camera for the best picture, which naturally I dually complied!
Whilst I know one year following one of the Legend’s Day Autograph sessions, as I can no longer recall if it was 2012 or 2013? Where Dave spotted Johnny Unser alone outside, and we saddled up to him to just say “Hi.” As Carpets’ asked him something about Uncle Bobby, to which Johnny said Yeah, He’s still telling me how to coil up the (garden) hoses outside the Motorhome correctly!
And then last year, the night before the fairly Surreal running of the Indy 500 in August! As I eagerly awaited the running of the race, I sat transfixed at my Confuzer’ “watching,” Err listening for nearly an hour to ‘Ol R’, aka Robin Miller as MC of a Hilarious Bobby Unser Roast that was held at the famous Stutz building in Indianapolis in 2018.
As the then 84 year old Unser was being Roasted in front of approximately 150 “guests” honouring bobby on the 50th anniversary of his first Indianapolis 500 victory.
As Miller does a very good Undle Bobby impersonation, where I learned the legend of Bobby’s praying upon innocent women to cook him a Turkey dinner! While El Capitano’, nee Roger Penske was full of “Piss ‘N vinegar’ towards his former driver. With former Penske team-mate “Rocket Rick” Mears getting in on the action. Along with Rufus Parnelli Jones and Lonestar JR’ (Johnny Rutherford) featured on the Racer.com video.
As Y’all can find this Hilarious bit ‘O tomfoolery by simply searching for the Racer article titled Retro: The Roast of Bobby Unser. (August 22, 2020)
And All of this doesn’t even address his driving ability, after all having won the Indianapolis 500 in three different decades, 35 IndyCar wins, 52 Poles and two National Championships for starters. Not to mention being the King of Pikes Peak with an unbelieveable 13 victories!
And while it’s the Character of Uncle bobby we cherish the most. I have to say I always find it somewhat ironic how he likes to wax On ‘N On ‘bout Formula 1 Drivers being Sissies whenever on Speed Freaks!
Yet he himself once contested the 1968 United States grand Prix as a third BRM entry and summarily got his Arse waxed! After being Disqualified from that year’s Italian Grand Prix along with SuperMario’, (Andretti) but that’s a whole nother story…