Auto racing legend Bobby Unser, still recovering from a near-fatal ordeal in the snow, could face a six-month jail term for snowmobiling in a federally protected wilderness, the Forest Service says.

Unser can't believe it."People shouldn't be prosecuted for something they have no control over," he told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Unser said he's unsure, but he might have strayed a quarter-mile or half-mile into Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness on Dec. 20 while snowmobiling with a friend, Robert Gayton.

The two became lost in a blizzard for two days after their snowmobile broke down, and Unser says even the Forest Service wasn't sure exactly where it happened.

He says snowmobiling was legal where the trek began near Chama, N.M. "When I went out that day, the sun was shining and it was beautiful. So I certainly didn't ask in any knowing way to try to kill myself and my friend," he said.

But even if he did cross an invisible line in the snow, Unser said, the Forest Service shouldn't be prosecuting someone for getting lost in a blizzard.

Unser, 63, of Albuquerque, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981, said he still suffers physical effects from the snowmobile ordeal.

"It's one thing if you do something by intent, but what if it's God's intent and I had nothing to do with it? I didn't want to go into their wilderness. I wanted to be the heck out of there.

"I'm ashamed I got lost," Unser said. "Nobody would take the chance of getting lost up there if they knew ahead of time it was going to happen - especially a person like myself who's not known to be completely dumb. I almost died, came very close."

He said he would consult with his congressman, Rep. Steve Schiff, and with Sen. Pete Domenici, both R-N.M., about what laws govern such emergencies.

He said two Forest Service officials drove all the way from Colorado to Albuquerque on Wednesday to issue him a ticket.

Unser said they told him the infraction was less than a misdemeanor. But Forest Service officials in Denver said Thursday that Unser could face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted and that a U.S. attorney would prosecute the case, which would be heard by a federal magistrate.

The Forest Service said Unser was cited for violating the Wilderness Act, which prohibits motorized vehicles like snowmobiles in protected wilderness areas. Unser's snowmobile remains stranded somewhere near the Colorado-New Mexico state line.