IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-09-14

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Sept. 14, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Unser Racing Museum opens this weekend 2. Wheldon tosses another pitch 3. Marlboro Team Penske contributes to Hurricane Katrina relief effort 1. Unser Racing Museum...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Unser Racing Museum opens this weekend
2. Wheldon tosses another pitch
3. Marlboro Team Penske contributes to Hurricane Katrina relief effort

1. Unser Racing Museum opens this weekend: Al Unser enthusiastically describes the various rooms that contain some of the most precious artifacts of his family's racing career. His vision is about to become reality.

Thirty-five years after the first of his four Indianapolis 500 victories, he'll proudly help cut the ribbon to open the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, N.M. The grand opening of the 13,000-square-foot facility at 1776 Montano NW that will showcase the family's contributions to racing is Sept. 17.

"We wanted to honor the Unser family for what we have done, honor the racing fraternity and to try to show the public what racing is about," Al Sr. said. "Things like that really make it great. Everybody who comes through I think will be impressed."

Al Unser, his brother, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser, and his son, Al Unser Jr., have been the catalysts in collecting items from cars to helmets to trophies for rotating displays. All nine of the family's Indianapolis 500 championships will be represented.

"Over the years, you never end up with everything that you should of because the Unsers had one thing in mind, and that was racing and to win," Al Sr. said. "It surely wasn't to build a museum. Now we are building the museum so we still search for items that are different.

"Between the three of us -- Bobby, Al (Jr.) and I and (nephew) Johnny Unser, we could probably fill three museums. We'll pick certain items that will showcase racing -- like the Indy room and Pikes Peak -- and then two other rooms that will be made up of different cars like hot rods and street rods. Then there's a place called Jerry's Garage, which will honor my father because he's the one who got us going in this."

Jerry Unser was the second son born to Louis and Marie Unser, who emigrated from Switzerland in the late 1800s. The family eventually settled in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Jerry and his brothers were the first to ascend Pikes Peak on a motorcycle and sidecar in September 1915 -- the year before a road was built to the summit.

After he married Mary Craven in 1931, Jerry opened a filling station and garage on Central Avenue in Albuquerque, N.M. -- hence the room that also will host receptions and public events.

The location for the museum wasn't the family's first choice, but after scouting existing buildings Al Sr. found a diamond in the rough.

"I thought the layout would be a perfect museum," said Al Sr., driver coach and consultant to the Indy Racing League. "We tried to put it on the corner of Unser and Central. I wanted to get it done as quickly as possible, but we've rebuilt the whole building.

"I've said many times that I needed to go see a head doctor to figure out why I did this project. It's been difficult. But I think it will be worth it. You take three years ago I couldn't see the end of the tunnel, and now it's becoming reality and it makes us very happy. Everybody said we couldn't get it done in that length of time. Well, it's going to give us a lot of satisfaction when we do it."

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2. Wheldon tosses another pitch: IRL IndyCar® Series points leader Dan Wheldon isn't ready to give up his day job, but he said he may consider a career as a pitcher.

Wheldon visited Tropicana Field on Sept. 13 to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Tampa Bay Devil Rays-New York Yankees game.

"It was much better than the one at Wrigley Field," said Wheldon, who has thrown pitches at four Major League Baseball stadiums since winning the Indianapolis 500 in May. "My best one was still the first one at Shea Stadium, but I didn't bounce it in. I put it right in the glove and there was a little pop. I had to do a good one because (Tampa Bay's) my home team. I had to impress."


3. Marlboro Team Penske contributes to Hurricane Katrina relief effort: In order to assist with the relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Marlboro Team Penske has pledged to contribute $50 for each lap drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves complete during the remainder of the 2005 season.

The program began with the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean on Sept. 11 and will continue through the races at Watkins Glen International and California Speedway.

There are a total of 920 laps to be completed during the three races which would equal a possible $46,000. Both drivers completed all of the laps at the Chicagland Speedway race, guaranteeing a donation of $20,000.

"We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to race for a living," said Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing, Inc. "Although we approach every race with the goal of completing every lap, these final events are even more important to us knowing that each lap will help demonstrate our support for those affected by Hurricane Katrina."


The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix Presented by Argent Mortgage at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 25 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be broadcast by ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast also will be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). ESPN2's telecast of the Chicagoland 100 will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 15. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Corning 100 on Sept. 25 at Watkins Glen International. It will be telecast by ESPN2 at 3 p.m. on Sept. 29.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Al Unser Sr. , Bobby Unser , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske