Gallery (Amelia Island, FL) RACING LEGEND BOBBY UNSER TALKS DRIVING, WINNING, AND INFINITI’S REVVED-UP TRIBUTE TO HIS INDY-500, OFFENHAUSER-POWERED EAGLE.
Besides mingling with vintage auto and racecar aficionados at the 19th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Bobby Unser was a co-conspirator with Infiniti to deliver a striking tribute to Offenhauser-powered racecars.
It was Infiniti who tapped Bobby Unser and his winning 1968 Indianapolis 500 Eagle/Offenhauser to channel the tribute.
Wish you had a little back story? Unser led 127 of the 200 laps, winning the day at the 52nd Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 1968. He was driving his Rislone Offenhauser-powered Eagle racecar.
Pre-approved by Unser, a specially wrapped Q60 convertible lined up beside his number 3 Eagle/Offenhauser, courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, at Inifiniti’s pavilion for Amelia, sporting colors that resembles the winning racecar’s livery. Infiniti had recruited its design team, headed by worldwide Design Director Alfonso Albaisa, to commission the one-off vehicle wrap for the Q60 Convertible.
“I think it’s one of the neatest ideas I’ve ever heard of … First they sent me an artist’s concept of it… Why in the world didn’t I think of that?” Unser explained.
In the spirit of memory lanes and vintage excellence, it’s impossible to miss Unser’s ongoing passion. He tells of the Offy-powered racecars that were out in force in the 1968 Indy 500, along with a number of Dan Gurney built Eagles.
“Obviously it was the fastest, it won, you know? [laughing] But it was pretty good. The Gurney cars finished well that year,” mused Unser. Not only did Gurney’s Eagles finish well, Dan Gurney himself took second place behind Unser.
“We didn’t run that car much in ’68. I wrecked it in Canada after Indianapolis.” Later the car was restored and put into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. “It’s basically a new car…except that it got wrecked, you know?” Unser adds.
Bobby Unser’s thoughts on the family’s success on track?
“Are we race drivers? Yes. Winning? Dang right. I mean that’s all important [but] when you’re a poor guy you need to win occasionally to get enough money to buy the groceries you know? All joking aside. We’ve been lucky. The whole family has been a winning group of people and we all like that. We’re lucky and we work hard at it, always have.”
“Every time I go to Indianapolis it sits in the museum, so I see it pretty often. And I drove it one time, not too many years ago, around the speedway. And believe it or not they forgot to put enough fuel in it, so I had to coast in.”
Of the Concours organizers, Unser gives more than a token nod. “Bill Warner just does more than a good job. The guy is just magic. His events are always good.”
Photography by Matthew Emmer & Guy Smith
Story by Guy Smith
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