Al Richard Unser

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Alfred Richard Unser
Nationality United States American
Born (1982-10-23) October 23, 1982 (age 34)
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Related to Al Unser, Jr. (father)
Al Unser Sr. (grandfather)
Bobby Unser (great-uncle)
Indy Lights career
Debut season 2004
Former teams Vision Racing
Brian Stewart Racing
Playa Del Racing
American Dream Motorsports
Starts 20
Wins 0
Poles 1
Best finish 8th in 2004
Previous series
2004–2006 Atlantic Championship

Alfred Richard Unser[1][2] (born October 23, 1982) was an American professional race car driver. Unser has competed in the Indy Lights series and Toyota Atlantics Championship.

Al Richard Unser is the son of Al Unser Jr., and grandson of Al Unser Sr.. Due to his family connections in auto racing, he has sometimes been known as "Al Unser III" or "Just Al."

Family connections[edit]

Al Richard Unser is the son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, Jr., grandson of four-time Indy winner Al Unser, Sr., and grandnephew of three-time Indy winner Bobby Unser. Another granduncle, Jerry Unser, drove in the 1958 race but died from injuries suffered in a crash in 1959.

First-cousins-once-removed (Al Unser Jr.'s cousins) Robby and Johnny also drove in the Indianapolis 500.

During his young childhood years, he was often nicknamed "Mini Al" by the media and fans,[1][2] all with the expectation that he might follow in his family's footsteps to race professionally. However, as a child, Unser had reservations about becoming a race car driver.[3][4] For superstitious reasons, his father (Al Unser, Jr.) insisted he not be named with the suffix "III".[1][2] By that time both Al Sr. and Al Jr. were stars on the Indy car circuit. Al Sr. was becoming know by the nickname "Big Al." Al Jr. for a time was known as "Little Al," thus Al Richard Unser became known for a time as "Mini Al."

As he got older and reached his teenage years, he decided to eschew the somewhat unflattering "Mini" nickname, and became known as "Just Al." When starting his professional career, he abandoned any sort of nickname, and has insisted on being referred to as Just Al (i.e., Al Unser), or by his full name, Al Richard Unser.

His first widely-noticed television appearance was at the 1992 Indianapolis 500 at age nine when his father won the race. Unser was seen greeting his father in victory circle. He also posed in official photos with his father and grandfather when Al Jr. won the Indy 500 for the second time in 1994. Unser guest-starred on an episode of Home Improvement alongside his father and grandfather in 1997.[5]

Career biography[edit]

Al driving an Infiniti Pro Series car at St. Petersburg in 2005.
Unser racing in the 2008 Firestone Freedom 100, his last Indy Lights race to date

Al Richard Unser began driving go karts at age ten, but stopped racing until after earning his driver's license at age sixteen. After attending driving schools, Unser competed in the Skip Barber Western Racing Series in 2002, winning six races and earning "Rookie of the Year" honors. A year later, he posted four top-ten finishes in the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series.

2004[edit]

In 2004, Unser made his Toyota Atlantics debut, running in four events. His best finish was an 8th place at Montreal. Unser also ran in eight races in the 2004 Infiniti Pro Series. He posted five third place finishes, and won the pole position at Michigan.

Around that same time, Unser's father Al Unser Jr. temporarily retired from driving to help with his career.[4]

2005[edit]

Unser posted three top-ten finishes in the first four races of the Infinity Pro Series season, including a 4th place at the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis. He then returned to the Toyota Atlantics, finishing the season 7th in points. He ran ten of twelve events with a best finish of 4th.

At the Indy Lights races at St. Petersburg and Indianapolis Unser competed against fellow third-generation driver Marco Andretti of the famous rival Andretti family. It was the only two times that Al and Marco raced together.

2006[edit]

In 2006 Unser drove in two Atlantics series events, but lost his ride to funding issues with the team.

2007[edit]

Unser was signed to drive for Playa Del Racing in the Freedom 100 for 2007. He drove in three other oval races, posting three top-tens in the four events.

2008[edit]

For 2008, Unser was announced as the full-time driver in the #12 car for Playa Del Racing in Indy Lights. After five races, controlling interest in the team was sold to former Las Vegas restaurateur Eric Zimmerman, who renamed it American Dream Motorsports. After finishing 11th position at Indianapolis, Unser was reportedly released by the new owner and replaced by Tony Turco, who brought sponsorship to the program. The team posted an entry for the Milwaukee 100 on May 31, but the car never took to the track.

Unser's father (Al Jr.) drove during several seasons for Galles Racing, and Al Richard works for Rick Galles' Chevrolet dealership.

Racing record[edit]

American open–wheel racing results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Barber Dodge Pro Series[edit]

Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Rank Points
2003 United States
STP
11
Mexico
MTY
18
United States
MIL
14
United States
LAG
6
United States
POR
8
United States
CLE
17
Canada
TOR
14
Canada
VAN
10
United States
MDO
12
Canada
MTL
15
13th 38

Indy Lights[edit]

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Rank Points
2004 Keith Duesenberg Racing United States
HMS
United States
PHX
United States
INDY
United States
KAN
3
United States
NSH
5
United States
MIL
3
United States
MIS
3
United States
KTY
11
United States
PPIR
6
United States
CHI
3
United States
FON
United States
TXS
3
8th 252
2005 Brian Stewart Racing United States
HMS
12
United States
PHX
8
United States
STP
4
United States
INDY
4
United States
TXS
United States
IMS
United States
NSH
United States
MIL
United States
KTY
United States
PPIR
United States
SNM
United States
CHI
United States
WGL
United States
FON
12th 106
2007 Playa Del Racing United States
HMS
United States
STP1
United States
STP2
United States
INDY
8
United States
MIL
7
United States
IMS1
United States
IMS2
United States
IOW
7
United States
WGL1
United States
WGL2
United States
NSH
13
United States
MDO
United States
KTY
United States
SNM1
United States
SNM2
United States
CHI
26th 93
2008 Playa Del Racing United States
HMS
13
United States
STP1
12
United States
STP2
6
United States
KAN
10
United States
INDY
11
United States
MIL
United States
IOW
United States
WGL1
United States
WGL2
United States
NSH
United States
MDO1
United States
MDO2
United States
KTY
United States
SNM1
United States
SNM2
United States
CHI
25th 102

Atlantic Championship[edit]

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Rank Points
2004 P-1 Racing United States
LBH
Ret
Mexico
MTY
United States
MIL
United States
POR1
United States
POR2
United States
CLE
Canada
TOR
Canada
VAN
16th 42
Brooks Associates Racing United States
ROA
9
United States
DEN
10
Canada
MTL
8
United States
LS
2005 Brooks Associates Racing United States
LBH
Mexico
MTY
United States
POR1
7
United States
POR2
6
United States
CLE1
4
United States
CLE2
Ret
Canada
TOR
4
Canada
EDM
6
United States
SJO
6
United States
DEN
7
United States
ROA
4
Canada
MTL
5
7th 198
2006 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing United States
LBH
19
United States
HOU
Ret
Mexico
MTY
Wth
United States
POR
United States
CLE1
United States
CLE2
Canada
TOR
Canada
EDM
United States
SJO
United States
DEN
Canada
MTL
United States
ROA
42nd 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Britton, Bonnie (May 29, 1983). "Of 3 Unsers named Al, only one isn't in '500' (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 92. Retrieved February 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ a b c Britton, Bonnie (May 29, 1983). "Of 3 Unsers named Al, only one isn't in '500' (Part 2)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 96. Retrieved February 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ "The Unser Family". Unser Racing Museum. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Alfred Unser, 21, has clear goals". ESPN.com. June 30, 2004. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Al Unser(s) To Guest Star On Television". ChampCar.com. March 10, 1997. Retrieved February 2, 2017.