4th Annual Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame inductees Bobby Rahal and Al Unser, Jr. share a word while standing in front of Parnelli Jones just before the medallion unveiling ceremony. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)
Al Unser Jr.'s Demons Bite Him ... AGAIN!
What is it with guys named Al (son of a famous Al) and speeding at triple-digits? Last night, Al Unser Jr. was pulled over driving as fast as Al Gore, III, who a few years ago was caught pacing his car at over 100 miles per hour (the irony in Al Gore III's case is that he was driving a Toyota Prius). The problem other than speeding in both of these cases was that the driver was operating the vehicle at over 100 mph under the influence of a mind-altering substance ... in Al Unser Jr.'s case, he was drunk ... AGAIN.
A couple of years back , Al Unser Jr. was participating in what any racing fan would agree was one of Al's best post career weekend's ever. The scene was the 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach week which started off on Thursday late morning with Al Unser Jr. being honored with a brass medallion with his name and accomplishments (a six-time winner at "The Beach") being placed in the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame (along with Bobby Rahal) in the West side sidewalk of the Long Beach Convention Center on Pine Avenue.
The section of the Wyland Mural on the side of the Long Beach Convention Center that was to be re-dedicated after its restoration earlier in the month of April. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)
On Friday, he was given the honor of re-christening the Wyland whale mural on the side of the Long Beach Convention Center which had been re-conditioned by the original artist, Robert Wyland. Al christened the mural the first time it was commissioned and opened to the public.
A usually accessible Al Unser, Jr., signs a tee-shirt for a fan as he walks from the pits to an appearance at a sponsor event at the track. Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2009)
On Saturday, Al Unser Jr. participated in the famed Toyota Pro/Celebrity race which raises funds for charity and is a weekend crowd favorite at the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend. This being the best weekend ever, Al Unser Jr. came through by crossing the finish-line first ahead of all other drivers in-spite of having to start in the delayed start of the Pro grouping ... but last behind all of the specially prepared-matched Toyota cars.
Al Unser, Jr. sits at the driver's seat in the ceremonial Toyota convertable pace car as IRL Dallaras line up behind him in order to begin the warm-up laps before the 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)
This best week ever for an acclaimed driver and Indy 500 winner as Al Unser Jr. would not have been complete unless, of course, on Sunday he was the Grand Marshal of the 35th Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach. He was able to lead all of the Dallaras off of the grid and around the track to the cheers of the 100,000 plus Californians gathered to start the spring off in a fine fashion with a premiere open wheel race event that is unequaled.
Due to Al Unser's problem, he is almost like the decorated war hero who's money is no good in any bar or social gathering. Life for Al Unser Jr. is really just one big party ... until the party begins to damage relationships (divorce, days in jail, a smashing of an earned good reputation when sober, and etc.) and place other people's lives in danger.
I feel for, and relate to, the problem Al Unser Jr. has and know what it takes to eclipse them. I have to agree with Michele Rahal in his videolog posted here. This behavior is a much larger problem for IndyCar Race Control (Al is a member of the crew managed by Brian Barnhart who has had his own documented problems in on-track decision-making this year) as it relates to the public image of the IZOD IndyCar Series and it is time for the whole crew to take a time-out ... go to rehab, and come back to the world, clean, sober, and ready to face the challenges of this life with a clear head.
It is time to clean house and enter the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season with a completely new staff and a fresh focus to compliment the new shape and approach to open wheel racing in North America ... this opinion, from a person who is still sober after 19.5 years of facing life ... one day at a time!
... notes from The EDJE
[Article first published as - Al Unser Jr.'s Demons Bite Him ... AGAIN! - at Technorati]