Blowing the dust from the office dictionary and looking up “hero,” the definition reads: ”A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” In which case, we feel we’ve hit our marks on subject matter for RACER’s annual Heroes Issue.

Six decades have passed since A.J. Foyt’s first Indianapolis 500 win in 1961, and to celebrate that, RACER’s in-house hero Robin Miller recalls Super Tex’s early years at the Speedway and on the dirt and pavement of the USAC national championship.

Poignantly, Robin also brings us some personal memories of Bobby Unser, who passed away May 2. “Uncle Bobby” had an opinion on anything and everything, and didn’t hold back on telling you it. But the three-time Indy 500 winner and Pikes Peak legend didn’t just talk the talk. As Mario Andretti says, “Life goes on, but our gang has lost a great one.”

Staying with the Indy theme, we caught up with Dario Franchitti to look back on the Scot’s three consecutive IndyCar Series titles between 2009 and ’11. In an era where pretty much every rule and regulation is designed to prevent such dominance, that’s some feat. But throw in an Indy 500 wins in 2010 — this after a 2007 Indy 500/championship double, of course – and it definitely ticks the hero box.

There was a time when it was a toss-up on who’d join the Indy 500 four-time winners’ club first, Dario or Helio Castroneves. As the seasons passed, the answer seemed to be heading toward “neither,” but our cover star Helio’s victory last month was hugely deserved, if a little surprising – to pretty much everyone but Helio himself, that is.

That unwavering self-belief is one of the traits that defines the great race car drivers; ditto, single-minded focus and determination. Which is why when Robert Wickens says he wants to get back to an elite level of motorsports, you don’t even question it. Read about his recent return to a race car and appreciate another true hero.

And a packed RACER No. 310 doesn’t end there. Interviews with Yamaha’s MotoGP enigma Maverick Vinales and Formula DRIFT champ Vaughn Gittin Jr., a look back at the opening event of the all-electric, off-road Extreme E series, and insight on the return of the Pro class to SRO GT World Challenge America spread the net wide.

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