Without a doubt, Unser is one of the most legendary names in all of motorsports.
The Unser family has produced countless racing champions — Louis Unser Jr., Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Al Unser Jr., Robby Unser and Johnny Unser have all made names for themselves in the sport.
The latest Unser coming down the pipeline is Loni Unser. The 20-year-old Colorado racer is the daughter of five-time Indianapolis 500 starter Johnny Unser, the granddaughter of Jerry Unser Jr. and the great-granddaughter of Louis Unser Jr. The sophomore at the University of Colorado races a Spec Miata in the Rocky Mountain Region of the NASA road racing series.
Much like other members of the Unser clan, Loni Unser has been around racing her entire life. That made getting involved in the sport an easy decision.
“It’s something I’ve known I wanted to do since as long as I could remember,” she said. “I use to go to my dad’s races and I’d always be around the track. Growing up I’d go to Indy car races and I’d always watch and follow the Road to Indy series . I just knew it was something I loved and I wanted to give it a shot.”
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It’s easy to understand why Loni Unser would want to follow in the footsteps of her relatives. The Unser family has won the Indianapolis 500 a staggering nine times and members of the Unser clan have claimed the overall victory in the Pikes Peak Int’l Hill Climb an incredible 26 times, dating all the way back to Louis Unser Jr.’s first victory in 1934.
With a family lineage like that, who wouldn’t want to try and follow in their footsteps?
“Following in my family’s footsteps would be a great success for me and that would be really cool,” Loni Unser noted. “To make my family proud, that is what I would like to do.”
The newest racing Unser only recently began getting serious about the sport. She says she did a bit of go-karting growing up, but because she lived in a small town, there weren’t many options for her to climb into a car and begin racing.
That all changed when she moved to Boulder, Colo., to begin attending the University of Colorado. She discovered there was a local NASA Rocky Mountain Region that had a Spec Miata class. With support from her father, she dove in head-first last year.
“When I moved out to Colorado to go to school at CU Boulder, it gave me the opportunity to run Spec Miata in the Rocky Mountain Region. I knew I wanted to do it instantly,” Loni Unser said.
According to Johnny Unser, the Spec Miata class provides a fantastic opportunity for his daughter to learn racing fundamentals.
“I wanted something that is very competitive. I didn’t want her to drive something where there were just a few cars running around,” her father explained. “I think the level of competition in Spec Miata is so high because the cars are fairly inexpensive and they’re fairly equal. They don’t have ABS, you have to lift the throttle, you have to build a basic foundation for your driving and your racing that will stay with you no matter what type of car you go to.
“We’re in Spec Miata because the level of competition is so high,” Johnny Unser added. “I think if you can do well there, then you can pretty much go anywhere you want because the foundation has been laid.”