Bobby Unser learned how to build cars by working on them as a child growing up in Albuquerque, N.M.
So when the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner came to the Saratoga Automobile Museum last weekend, it was only fitting that he met a new generation of children learning everything there is to know about building cars.
Three members of the museum's 14-member Sam's Garage project were in attendance last Friday as Unser spoke to members of the media. Behind Unser was the automobile that Sam's Garage built a gleaming Ford Model A" Huckster that looked like it had rolled off the assembly line.
"It was fun," said 16-year-old Ben Wagner from Scotia-Glenville High School. "We started from an old, rusty frame and built it up from scratch."
For Unser, seeing the result of the teens' work was gratifying, especially since he learned about what made cars work back when he was a boy helping his father at the family garage.
"My eyes go to different things like the wiring " things that people wouldn't normally see," said Unser. "They did a great job building it."
The project took several weekends for the Sam's Garage crew to complete. And since none of the original parts were still in stock, the team had to make the parts they received fit together.
"They learned that they weren't going to slap this thing together. They had to hand fit everything," said Hank Ashton, a museum volunteer who oversaw the Huckster project.
"It was a lot of fun," said 14-year-old Jack Glogowski, a student at Saratoga Springs High School. "I've loved cars all my life. My dad [former Albany-Saratoga Speedway racer Tommy Glogowski] used to race cars, and I just branched off of my dad."
Unser is best known for what he accomplished on the track. Besides his three Indianapolis 500 wins, he dominated the annual Pike's Peak Hill Climb (13 wins including seven in a row), he won 35 Indy Car races (fourth all time), earned the pole position in 49 races (third all time) and was a two-time national champion.