Commentary

The list of superlatives only gets longer as drivers' rank gets higher

Five drivers, so many superlatives. Two four-time winners of the Indy 500, a three-time Formula One champion, the only man to win back-to-back-to-back Cup titles and a driver still going strong after 14 championships. ESPN.com's top 25 countdown moves on with drivers 15-11, writes Terry Blount.

Updated: May 23, 2008, 11:30 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

Top 25 Drivers of All TimeESPN.com IllustrationAl Unser, Jackie Stewart, John Force, Rick Mears and Cale Yarborough collected 26 titles, with Force still aiming to add to his 14.

Who are the top 25 drivers of all time? ESPN.com asked 19 experts to vote for any driver who piloted something with wheels and a motor. Today's list presents drivers 15-11.

15. Al Unser
Al Unser

Series: Indy car

Al was one of the smartest drivers I've ever raced against. I wish I could've had some of his patience. He's one of the top five racers who has ever lived.

-- Mario Andretti


Championships: Three (1970, '83 and '85).
Years competed: 1965-93.
Birthdate: May 29, 1939.
Hometown: Albuquerque, N.M.
Why he made the top 25: One of only three drivers to win the Indy 500 four times, along with A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears.
Accomplishments: Unser's 644 laps led are the most in Indy 500 history. At age 47 in 1987, he became the oldest Indy 500 winner. 1978 IROC champion. Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1998.

14. Cale Yarborough
Cale Yarborough

Series: NASCAR

Cale is the best driver the sport has ever seen. When you strap Cale into the car, it's like adding 20 horsepower.

-- Junior Johnson


Championships: Three Cup titles (1976, '77 and '78).
Years competed: 1957-88.
Birthdate: March 27, 1940.
Hometown: Timmonsville, S.C.
Why he made the top 25: The only driver to win three consecutive Cup championships.
Accomplishments: Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times. Won the 1984 IROC title. Fifth on the all-time NASCAR win list with 83 victories. Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993. Competed in five Indy 500s, finishing 10th in 1972.

13. Jackie Stewart
Jackie Stewart

Series: Formula One and Indy car

No matter what you do in life, whatever tools or equipment you may require, they should always offer an invitation, never a challenge.

-- Jackie Stewart


Championships: Three (1969, '71 and '73).
Years competed: 1965-73.
Birthdate: June 11, 1939.
Hometown: Milton, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland.
Why he made the top 25: One of only eight drivers to win three F1 championships.
Accomplishments: Won 15 F1 races in a three-year span from 1971 to '73 when he won two championships and finished second in the other. Raced in two Indy 500s, finishing sixth in 1966. Honored with knighthood in 2001. Stewart helped revolutionize safety standards at F1 tracks and was one of the first to use safety belts and full-face helmets.

12. John Force
John Force

He's had me laughing so hard on many occasions, but he had that rare determination. Guys who win as much as he does don't do it by accident. They do it because they're good.

-- Don Prudhomme


Series: NHRA Funny Car
Championships: Fourteen (1990-91, 1993-2002, 2004 and 2006).
Years competed: 1978 to present.
Birthdate: May 4, 1949.
Hometown: Yorba Linda, Calif.
Why he made the top 25: An unprecedented 14 NHRA titles.
Accomplishments: Force's dominance of the Funny Car class has made him the greatest drag racer in history. Has an incredible 125 victories and recently won his 1,000th round of NHRA competition. Won 10 consecutive championships from 1993 to 2002.

11. Rick Mears
Rick Mears

Series: CART

There was no one better on the ovals. Rick had 29 victories with us, including four Indy 500s. There's no question that set the stage for Penske Racing at Indianapolis. He gave us the credibility we needed.

-- Roger Penske


Championships: Three (1979, '81 and '82).
Years competed: 1977-92.
Birthdate: Dec. 3, 1951.
Hometown: Bakersfield, Calif.
Why he made the top 25: One of only three drivers to win the Indy 500 four times.
Accomplishments: In his first championship season in 1979, Mears finished in the top five in 13 of 14 events. Won 10 times in two years over his championship seasons of 1981-82. Won a record six Indy 500 poles. Finished in the top five in nine of 13 Indy 500 starts from 1979 through 1991. Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter