For the second time this summer, the Watkins Glen International has been transformed into one of the biggest names in motorsports history as the grand marshall weekend.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace will go bowling for August’s NASCAR Cup Series at the Glen weekend, after two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Al Unser Jr. serves as the Hilliard US Vintage grand marshal for the road course. The Grand Prix features three full days of racing from September 9-11. The featured marque for the event is the Mustang, with Bugatti Reunion and historic Trans-Am cars also highlighting the weekend.
Anser, 60, also performed Friday at the bustling Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival on the Chemung Canal in downtown Watkins Glen.
In the year He was the winner of one of the closest races in Indy 500 history in 1992, and in In 1994, he again held the race. Unser started 329 IndyCar races from 1982 to 2007 and was the CART Indy Car World Series champion in 1990 and 1994.
He closed out the International Race of Championship (IROC) title in four races, winning at Watkins Glen in 1986 and 1988. He added a win over WGI in 1989.
His father, Al Unser Sr., won the Indy 500 four times and Al Sr.’s brother, Bobby Allison, was a three-time winner of the race. Al-Sir died in December 2021, seven months after Bobby’s death.
On September 30 of last year, Unser Jr. He married Norma Lawrence. “She’s hot, she’s hot. She’s a firecracker. I love her so much,” Unser said Friday. The couple lives in Indianapolis.
And last year, “Al Unser Jr.: A Checkered Past,” a memoir he co-wrote with Jed Gurs, chronicling Unser’s personal struggles and racing career was released.
Question: What are your thoughts on attending Watkins Glen this weekend?
A: The guys at the Hilliard Vintage Grand Prix here in Watkins Glen called me and said, ‘Do you want to be a grand marshal?’ ‘Well yes, I’d love to be Grand Marshal,’ I said.
Watkins Glen has a lot of tradition. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid and watching my dad and uncle Bobby race in the early 70s and all that. In the year I got my first chance to race a Super Vee in 1981 and a Can-Am in ’82. Then in ’86 and ’88 I won a couple of IROC championships here at Glenn. It is simply a beautiful and traditional country. Seneca Lake is magnificent behind us.
Q: When you go back this way, what are some of the memories that come to mind?
A: Actually when I was a kid watching my dad race in the early 70s in the Formula 5000 series when I came here. I think it was 74 when I was first here. When I come back over the years, to see the changes to the track, all the improvements that have been made to it, it’s really, really turned into a world-class racetrack here in America. It’s great.
Q: If you had to pick a favorite moment from your career, what would it be?
A: I think my favorite time was winning the Indy 500 in 1992. That was just my lifetime. Simply put, I was very blessed to be born where I was. With my dad being a four-time winner and my uncle Bobby being a three-time winner, I was just blessed to be born when I was born, just having success in every race — not just the 500, but the IROCs and the 24 Hours of Daytona and all that kind of stuff.
Question: What do your father and uncle mean to the sport and what about you?
Answer: My father and uncle, I love them very much. They were great people, the kind of people he kept away from the race track. My father in particular was a great father figure more than he was a race car driver, and he is one of the most famous race car drivers. We miss them so much. I feel very fortunate that we get to carry on their legacy and my responsibility in passing is to make sure that they are always with us at races and such.
Q: Usher and Andretti are at the top of a remarkable racing family. What is the relationship between families?
Unsers and Andretti’s, go back a long way. Uncle Bobby was very close to Mario even though he wasn’t a teammate, my dad was Mario’s teammate. When I first met Mario’s son, Michael Andretti, we were 10 and 11 years old and riding mini bikes in Pennsylvania. His family has just grown up together and is the elite of the elite. I feel blessed, as Michael does, to have been born where we were born and to have followed our careers in the way we have and achieved great success.
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