Al Unser says he had feeling of awe driving through tunnel beneath track

With a loving pat on his neck, Ma Unser, as she is called, congratulates her son, Al Unser, on his victory on May 30, 1970 in the Indianapolis 500-mile speedway race in Indianapolis. Al, from Albuquerque, N.M., had a winning time of 155.749 to beat out the field in the 54th running of the event. Unser led most of the race. (AP Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/AP) – Long before he won the Indianapolis 500, Al Unser was an up-and-coming 25-year-old sprint car driver who had showed up at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch his older brother try to qualify.

Unser still remembers the feeling of awe when he drove through the tunnel beneath the track.

“I had never seen such large grandstands,” he said, “filled with so many people.”

More than 50 years later, and after four triumphs and so many other unforgettable races at Indy, Unser’s first look at the historic speedway in May 1964 remains his most memorable moment there.

Unser took the checkered flag in 1970, 1971, 1978, and in 1987.

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