Bobby Unser visits Saratoga Automobile Museum

Unser said the secret to his success was his determination to be the best race car driver.

"I knew that for sure," he said. "I didn't know how I was going to get where I wanted to go, but something kept telling me to keep going forward."

Meeting some influential people helped Unser, too. He got his break at the Indianapolis 500 through Parnelli Jones, whom he met at the Pike's Peak climb in the early 1960s.

"He thought I was good enough [for Indy]," said Unser. "I didn't think I was good enough, but I gave it a shot."

Away from the track, Unser worked with several automakers including Ford and General Motors on designing engines for race cars, as well as everyday cars. Unser's "Toronado" engine was used in Oldsmobiles. He also designed tires for Goodyear that were used on both race cars and regular vehicles.

"I can design pretty much anything you see here [in the museum], and I'm all self-taught," said Unser. "I learned a long time ago that if you hang around really, really smart people, you can learn a little something from each of them."

That concept played into the Sam's Garage project. With help from the Adirondack A's Club " a group dedicated to the restoration of Ford Model "A" cars " the 14 area students learned the ins and outs of building a car. One of the few things they didn't get to do was apply the varnish to the Huckster's wooden body.

"It was tough, but it was a fun challenge because we got to learn a lot from our instructors," said Corinth High School student Laura Earls, the lone girl on the Sam's Garage team. "It was a relief, and we felt great that we accomplished such a big task [when the car was finished in May]."

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