IRL: Al Unser Sr named Nazareth Grand Marshal

Al Unser, Sr. named Grand Marshal for Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway. (NAZARETH, Penn. - April 4, 2002) - Firestone Racing and Nazareth Speedway today announced four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Sr. will serve as Grand Marshal...

Al Unser, Sr. named Grand Marshal for Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway.

(NAZARETH, Penn. - April 4, 2002) - Firestone Racing and Nazareth Speedway today announced four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Sr. will serve as Grand Marshal for the April 21 Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway.

"When we asked Al to serve as Grand Marshal for the Indy Racing League event here later this month, he told us he won his first championship race at Nazareth in 1968," said Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports Executive Director Al Speyer. "Al told us that win came on Firestone tires, so being Grand Marshal at a Firestone-sponsored event 24 years later at Nazareth is very special to him. His service as Grand Marshal will add more excitement to an event that is already shaping up to be an amazing race."

The youngest of four sons, Unser began his racing career in 1957. His first championship racing victory came Sept. 29, 1968 at Nazareth when it was a dirt track. He was driving Al Retzloff's Offy-powered car on Firestone tires.

Unser's first Indy 500 win came in 1970, two years after older brother Bobby had won in 1968. That marked the first time brothers had won "the greatest spectacle in racing." In 1983 he became the first father to compete against his son, when "Little Al" entered his first Indy. And when "Junior" won his first Indy in 1992, it was the first time a son would follow in his father's winning tracks at the Brickyard.

In 1994, Unser decided to take off his driving gloves for the last time, much to the disappointment of millions of race fans around the world. In the nearly four decades he competed, he earned the respect of other drivers for his talent behind the wheel and his winning attitude off the track. Fellow racing legend Mario Andretti once called him "one of the smartest drivers I ever raced againstI wish I could have had some of his patience."

In addition to claiming four wins at the Indianapolis 500, he holds a place in the records books as the one person who led more laps than any other driver in the history of that race - a total of 644.

As a driver coach and consultant for the IRL, Unser devotes his seemingly limitless energy to quietly going about his work of helping others. Away from the track he is now working on the Unser Children's Discovery Center, a planned interactive educational facility that will provide a unique learning experience for young people.

"I'm very proud to serve as Grand Marshal for the Firestone Indy 225," Unser said. "Firestone tires took me to many victories throughout my career, and it's a real treat to serve as Grand Marshal for an IRL event with Firestone as the primary sponsor. I think the fans are going to see an exciting race with lots of side-by-side action and nose-to-tail running. Since every car is on Firestone tires, these drivers have the grip and durability - and confidence - you need to go all out at Nazareth. It should be one amazing competition."

"Nazareth Speedway is pleased to welcome Al Unser, one of the great names in open-wheel racing history, back to the Lehigh Valley," said Craig Rust, president of Nazareth Speedway. "The Unser name has a lot of history at Nazareth and having Al associated with our Inaugural Firestone Indy 225 will bring even more prestige to an already terrific event."

Tickets for the inaugural Firestone Indy 225 weekend are now available. For tickets, reserved camping and additional information, contact Nazareth Speedway ticket office toll-free at (888)-629-race (7223).

-ns-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Andretti , Al Unser Sr. , Al Unser