Counting 'em Down: For better or for worse, this is the Headline Surfer countdown of the 2021's Top 100 biggest news stories of Central Florida along the tourism-driven stretch of Interstate 4 (Orlando Attractions and east to I-95 & the World's Most Famous Beach in Daytona). Each recap segment is posted with its own headline, culminating with the unveiling of No. 1 on New Year's Day or shortly thereafter. Then Headline Surfer will post a Top 10 forecast story of the good, the bad & the ugly on the horizon in "2022: The Year That Lies Ahead."
By HENRY FREDERICK / Headline Surfer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Retired open-wheel motorsports driver Bobby Unser once said in part in a tweet, "if anything is worth it, it won't come easy."
Certainly, that was the case back in 1969, when the oldest of the Unser Brothers and three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, qualified fourth for the 1969 Daytona 500, but couldn't get his No. 13 Ford started and had to be pushed by another driver at the start.
And though Unser, then the 1968 Indy 500 champion, moved up quickly on the high banks of Daytona and actually took the lead at lap 47 from Buddy Baker before losing it back to Baker in the next lap. Eight laps later, Unser, brushed the outside concrete retaining wall, and just like that -- climbed out of his wrecked car -- he was out of the Great American Race.
YouTube download / NascarAllOut video / ABC Wide World of Sports abbreviated coverage of the 1969 Daytona 500 won by LeeRoy Yarbrough. Bobby Unser, then-winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, started fourth in this Daytona 500, driving the No. 13 Ford for Smokey Yunick Racing. Unser briefly led the race on lap 47, for one lap, but eight laps later slammed into the outside retaining wall and was knocked out of the race.
And though Bobby Unser, then the 1968 Indy 500 champion, moved up quickly on the high banks of Daytona and actually took the lead at lap 47 from Buddy Baker before losing it back to Baker in the next lap. Eight laps later, Unser, brushed the outside concrete retaining wall, and just like that -- climbed out of his wrecked car -- he was out of the Great American Race.
Bobby Unser died Sunday, May 3 of natural causes at his home in Albuquerque, NM. He was 87 years old.
Unser was a legend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for decades in open-wheel racing, known as IndyCar. In fact, three members of the Unser racing family won a combined nine Indianapolis 500 championships:
Bobby's three wins (1968, 1975 & 1981), younger brother Al Unser Sr. with a record-tying four wins (1970, 1971, 1978, and 1987); and Al's son, Al Jr., aka "Little Al" with two wins (1992 & 1994).
The Unser brothers were ever so competitive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Al is tied with three other drivers at four wins apiece: AJ Foyt (1961, 1964, 1967 & 1977), Rick Mears (1979, 1984, 1988 & 1991), and Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009 & 2021).
Bobby Unser only raced a handful of times in NASCAR, the biggest being the 1969 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway driving for Smokey Yunick Racing.
Al Unser also saw limited racing at Daytona back in the day, though he had three top-10 finishes in NASCAR.
Sadly, the Unser brothers have both passed. Al Unser Sr. died on Dec. 9, at age 82, losing a 17-year battle with cancer.
YouTube download / Indianapolis Motor Speedway / Bobby Unser: An Icon, Always Remembered.
About the Byline Writer: Henry Frederick is a member of the working press and publisher of Headline Surfer, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet launched in 2008, that serves greater Daytona Beach, Sanford & Orlando from Lake Mary, Florida via HeadlineSurfer.com. Frederick has amassed close to 150 award-winning bylines in print & online. He earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University in 2019. He was a breaking news reporter (metro cops & courts beat) for the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade. And Before that worked the same beat for The Journal-News/Gannett Suburban Newspapers in Rockland/Westchester counties, NY, dating back to 1989. Having witnessed the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Florida's death chamber and covering other high profile cases, Frederick has appeared on national crime documentary shows on Discovery ID, Reelz, and the Oxygen Network series "Snapped" for his analysis. • Award-Winning Journalism: Florida Press Club recognizes Headline Surfer for nine stories in 2020 statewide competition. • Award-Winning Journalism of Henry Frederick.