TOPEKA (KSNT)- Legendary NHRA announcer Bob Unkefer died in April from liver cancer. On Thursday, friends and family gathered at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka to share stories and remember his ongoing impact.
“He brought [the racers] to life from behind the microphone,” Bob’s daughter, Whitney Unkefer, said. “He knew that so-and-so had a baby last weekend, that’s why they weren’t there, but this weekend they were here and the newborn was in the trailer.”
Bob started his long announcing career in Topeka. He went on to do big things in the racing world, but the Capital City remained his home track. After races concluded on the track Wednesday night in Topeka, they held a ‘Last Lap’ where his family took a car down the track in Bob’s honor.
“He’s known and loved worldwide,” Bob’s friend and fellow announcer Warren Evans said. “He has a passion for the sportsmen racers that are here, and he can tell the story of a sportsmen racer better than anybody else can.”
He made drivers, big and small, feel as if they were All-stars.
“He had a way of just bringing it out that, man, you were the most important guy there that night,” longtime racer Terry Lacy said.
Lacy made the trip from McPherson to honor Unkefer at the Topeka race track. Evans came from even farther away.
“I live seven hours away, but I wanted to make the drive in tonight to be a part of this event,” Evans said. “Just to share my memories of him and to let the family know how much I loved him and miss him…We’re all his big extended family and we need each other right now.”
Bob’s daughter said the love and support from friends all over have been a touching reminder of how valued he was in the racing community.
“They truly loved him as much as he loved them. That’s meant the most,” Whitney said.
Although he is gone now, his impact will live for many more years.
“There will be people that are telling stories about Bob Unkefer until the end of time,” Evans said.