Fri, Mar. 05, 2004
Louie Unser, who served as chief mechanic for brothers Jerry and Al during their debuts at the Indianapolis 500, is dead at 71.
Unser, who had multiple sclerosis, died Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif., according to a news release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which provided no further details.
Louis was the twin brother of Jerry, who in 1958 became the first of the famed racing family to qualify for the Indy 500. Louie served as chief mechanic for Jerry in that race and handled the same duties for the debut of younger brother Al, in 1965.
"If it wasn't for Louie, I wouldn't have made it at the speedway," said Al, who won the Indy 500 four times. "He pushed me."
Louie was born 10 minutes after Jerry on Nov. 15, 1932, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The twins formed their own racing team in 1957. Jerry won the stock car championship that year, and Louie was mechanic of the year. Jerry gave his diamond championship ring to Louie, who wore it the rest of his life.
Jerry died in an accident at the speedway in 1959.
Louie retired after serving as crew chief for Al in 1965 and started an engine-building business in Southern California.
He is survived by his wife, Laverne; a daughter, Lynn; brothers Bobby and Al; and three grandsons.
Details of a memorial service planned for later this month have yet
to be announced.
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