Hi Reddit!

Al Unser Jr. here, two-time Indy 500 Winner promoting my return to racing. Earlier this year I drove in the Long Beach Grand Prix and won the Pro category. I will be at Indy this weekend, where I’ll be coaching a Great Race team, KV Racing. While I won’t be racing at the Indy 500 this year, I will be at the track prior to the race and I will also be at the race.

June 6-8 you can watch me race at the “Indy Legends Pro-Am” feature that will be part of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s Brickyard Invitational weekend.

I am excited to be involved in the world of racing again! Additionally, I just announced that I will be working as a performance expert with Enerpulse Technologies and their Pulstar Pulse Plugs. Pulstar plugs improve throttle response, horsepower and torque by using pulsed power technology to ignite the fuel-mixture quickly and burn it more completely. I love fast cars and tweaking engines to improve performance so this is a great fit for me.

Ask me anything!

Al

Proof

More proof

Update: I'm sorry I have to run to a quick interview. I'll be back shortly to answer a few more questions.

Update: I'm back for a few more questions!

Update: Sorry, I have to run but I've truly enjoyed Reddit. Thanks for making my first time on Reddit so enjoyable, I'm no longer a virgin! I want to thank Pulstar Pulse Plugs for making all of this happen! I look forward to coming back soon.

Comments: 207 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

zaikanekochan16 karma

I'm heading over to Indy today, and will be camping in the "Coke Lot" through Sunday. Will you come have a beer with me?

EDIT: I forgot about your work with Live Outside the Bottle...I will have plenty of Gatorade, as well. :)

AlUnserJr23 karma

I think that’s a great idea what they have done with the Coke tents. If I have time I would love to come over and have a Gatorade!

JohnMLTX13 karma

Congrats on getting clean, man! I looked up to you when I made the decision to get off pain pills.

AlUnserJr9 karma

Keep it going! One day at a time!

AlUnserJr7 karma

Best of luck to you!

GreatZapper14 karma

You grew up in a racing family. When you were a kid, did you dream of being a racing driver like many other boys, or did you entertain thoughts of doing something more ordinary, like an accountant or something?

And, as many drivers maintain, is Turn 1 at Indy really the most challenging corner in racing?

AlUnserJr11 karma

I dreamed of nothing but racing cars! And yep! Turn 1 is the most exciting corner in all of racing!

-internets10 karma

What are your thoughts on gimmicks like Green white checkers in NASCAR?

AlUnserJr20 karma

I think they are great, it gives the racers an opportunity to finish the race under green flag conditions and it’s great for the fans to.

mrshatnertoyou10 karma

Could you discuss a bit about your personal battles with alcoholism and the lessons you've learned about yourself as a person?

AlUnserJr21 karma

What I’ve learned about alcoholism is its one day at a time. And I’ve learned an awful lot about myself because of this disease.

-internets7 karma

Hey Al, what is your opinion on IndyCar being a spec series? Also how much and which professional racing series do you follow as a fan?

AlUnserJr17 karma

I really wish IndyCar was not a spec series. I follow NASCAR, Formula 1, and the World of Outlaws.

sujins7 karma

I have always lived in Indy but I am not a racing fan, though I have no reason not to be. What are your favorite things about the sport?

AlUnserJr6 karma

I hope we can make you a racing fan! I love that this sport is always changing and everybody in this industry has to work extremely hard to be successful.

bullet500007 karma

THIS IS SO AWESOME!!! A few questions:

How come you guys were able to make the whole familial racing thing work better than the Andrettis? (9 Indy 500s vs 1, and I hope Marco or Michael aren't reading this)

Go through what happened in 1994 at the Indy 500, that engine story just amazes me, and how Roger and Mercedes had to keep it secret while developing it in Nazareth.

Being that you were in the middle of all of it, what were the feelings when The Split happened? Was there animosity between the CART and IRL teams or drivers? Was it just towards Tony George?

EDIT: (Al had to remind me I was only counting 1 of Bobby's 3. 9 Indy 500s, I can't believe that)

AlUnserJr13 karma

We have 9 Indy 500 wins and we were just very fortunate as a family to be able to accomplish that.

The 94’ Penske Mercedes effort was monumental. How we kept it a secret… I do not know, but we did.

The IRL/CART split was devastating to me. I didn’t have an animosity towards IRL or Tony George, I was just really sad that I could not run the Indy 500.

papadoc037 karma

Hi Little Al! I was wondering your thoughts on racing in the IROC series versus stock car champions, and are you upset that it is no longer around?

Also hearing about your Daytona 500 experiences would be awesome!

AlUnserJr7 karma

Yes, I am upset that IROC no longer exists. I really enjoyed racing against the good ole boys in NASCAR. Mainly because it was a completely different style of driving than the INDYCAR.

turtlewaxer997 karma

Hey Al! Been following IndyCar my whole life, so it's fantastic to see Reddit finally lure a driver on to here.

So many questions it's hard to pick.

Who do you think will win on Sunday? What was your favorite track from your racing days? Who do you feel was your strongest competitor?

Thanks again and feel free to stop by /r/INDYCAR some time!

AlUnserJr6 karma

The winner of this year’s race is going to be who gets the checkereds first haha!

My favorite track is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

I had several strong competetors. Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi just to name a few.

burpderp5005 karma

Hey Al great to have ya here. I wanted to ask you how was it testing for Williams F1 in the early 90s, how did that test come about, and was it an active suspension car? Thanks!

AlUnserJr16 karma

It was great testing for Frank Willams! It was in December on 92’ in Estoril Portugal. I think the test came about because of my Indy 500 win. I never got to drive the active car because I feel I was going to quick in the non-active car and they didn’t want me going faster than their drivers haha!

Fielding_Mellish_FTW5 karma

Hello Little Al. I'm thrilled that you're taking the time to do this AMA. I'd be appreciative of any answers you'd care to give. Thanks.

*If there is one thing you could change about today's Indycar series to improve it or make it more popular, what would it be?

*How do you feel about the current Indycar spec?

*You driven for both Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi. How would you compare their management styles, strengths, personalities?

*Were you REALLY giving Emo the "thumbs up" in 1989?

AlUnserJr8 karma

I wouldn’t change anything in Indycar racing today, I think they are doing the best they can do. I never drove for Chip Ganassi so I wouldn’t know his management style but he is a great guy. Yep! I was really giving Emo a thumbs up!

WangoBango5 karma

I grew up watching you race in CART alongside Fittipaldi and Tracy. I'm actually related to Jimmy Vasser (distantly), and I'm excited that you're coaching the KV Racing drivers for the 500!

So, through your years of experience, what was your favorite car to race?

AlUnserJr3 karma

My favorite cars to race are IndyCars of course! With that said, I loved driving Sprint cars, IROC cars, and I loved driving the 24hours of Daytona cars. Because each one had its own discipline of driving.

oakley_fan5 karma

Hi 'Little Al', I have been a huge fan of yours since the late 80s!

I always rooted for you, and I Can't wait to getting my questions answered by an Indy Legend!

1) You tested a F1 Williams Renault in 1992 if memory serves, can you give us some insight on that test, what other

drivers were there?, what was your impression of Frank Williams & Patrick Head?, was there a legitimate offer to go

F1 racing for '93? How did you find the car compared to an early 90's Indycar, acceleration/braking, handling, power etc?

2) With such an amazing family history of the Unsers at Indianapolis, what is your first memory of the brickyard?

3) Many race drivers say the best car they ever drove, or best lap they ever drove, was never 100% perfect, that there

was something that ever so slightly could have gone better, Al to you, what is the best car you ever drove in your

career and where / what track?

4) In 1991, the CART series left the USA for the first time to race down under at Surfers Paradise in Australia, you

raced at Surfers many times throughout your career, but what is the one thing that really stands out for you about

that first Indycar race abroad down under in Australia?

5) You're a two time winner of the Indy 500, as the reigning Indy winner going into 1995, if you could sum up the

month of May '95 in One word, what would that word be?

6) Do you still own the '92 Cadillac Allante & '94 Ford Mustang Pace Cars that the Indy 500 winner receives ?

7) You had an amazing record at the Toyota GP of Long Beach, what was it about that track that just seemed to

'click' for you?

8) Which team-mate during your career was your favorite, and if you want, which team-mate during your career was

the worst?

Thanks for your time Al, you will always be one of my favorite drivers ever!

AlUnserJr10 karma

  1. There were several drivers at that test. On the Willam’s team it was Damon Hill and Riccardo Patrese. The Formula 1 car had better acceleration and breaking than the Indy Car. And no, there was no offer to go into Formula 1 racing.
  2. My first memory of the brickyard I was with my father, 9 years old and I was in awe of how big the grand stands were.
  3. The best car I ever drove was the 94’ Penske Mercedes pushrod engine at the Indy 500
  4. How pretty the girls were in Australia!
  5. Disastrous
  6. Yes I do, they are in the Unser Racing Museum.
  7. I honestly don’t know.
  8. My favorite teammates were Emerson Fittipaldi and Bobby Rahal. Paul Tracy and Danny Sullivan were the worst lol.

MrSoxo5 karma

Whenever you come to Indy what's the one place you always stop by and get a bite to eat at?

AlUnserJr3 karma

I LOVE St. Elmo’s and my Mom’s cooking!

BadPAV34 karma

What was your first thought when you and Emo touched in the closing laps at Indy in 89?

AlUnserJr10 karma

This is gonna hurt! Haha!

Kevin_Arnold_4 karma

Your video games were awesome.

AlUnserJr1 karma

Thank you!

TardisKing4 karma

Hi Al, thanks for doing this for us. Outside of Indianapolis, what was your favorite track to race at? Is it another track from your open wheel days, or something earlier?

BTW it is AWESOME to have you back at Indy. Welcome back!

AlUnserJr11 karma

I’m excited to be back at Indy! My favorite race track (outside of Indy) would be Road America in Wisconsin.

kokopelli734 karma

Many ask about favorite wins and/or career high points, but as someone who races myself, my favorite part of racing is feeling completely connected and at one with the car.
Is there a time that sticks out in your mind that you felt like you could just keep cutting tenths and hundredths off and the car would just do whatever your mind told it to?

AlUnserJr2 karma

That happened a lot in my career and I agree with you, it’s a great feeling to feel at one with the car.

bsl18184 karma

Al any chance we will see you in another 500?

AlUnserJr6 karma

Ahhh.... NO! Haha

TheMichaelN3 karma

Al, what's your opinion of IndyCar's current leadership? Does the series finally have the right people in place to compete with NASCAR for audience share?

AlUnserJr7 karma

I believe the leadership in IndyCar is the best that it could possibly have and I’m sure hoping to get IndyCar back as the most popular racing series in America.

-internets3 karma

Who's your pick to win the 500 this weekend?

AlUnserJr3 karma

It would have to be KV Racing!

BendlessLove3 karma

Hi Al!

What's the number one thing that people can do to improve their driving abilities?

AlUnserJr6 karma

I'd recommend going to a race car driving school. They are all over the country.

CokeTastesGood393 karma

Hi, Al! Huge fan!

Which type of racing/car is toughest to drive in your opinion?

AlUnserJr5 karma

The toughest race car I’ve ever driven is one that doesn’t handle well.

iusebadlanguage3 karma

Have you heard about what happened with the Dogecoin sponsorship over in NASCAR? How do you think Indycar could attract a younger audience like Reddit?

AlUnserJr12 karma

Yes! I did hear about the Dodgecoin sponsorship. I am just truly impressed on how strong social media has become. I would love to see Indycar do things like the Dodgecoin effort, which gives me something to think about to start your own team haha!

jarrettbrown2 karma

Hey Al, do you think its going to be possible for Kurt Busch to complete the elusive Double Duty this weekend? It's going to be interesting to see if he can really get it since it's been 10 years since the last one was completed successfully.

AlUnserJr2 karma

I truly believe in Kurt Busch completing the 500 in Indy and going on to complete the 600 miles in Charlotte. He can do it!

kokopelli732 karma

Obviously your father had a huge role in bringing you to the racing scene. What other racing heroes inspired you growing up?

AlUnserJr2 karma

Other than my father my heroes were Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, and Gordon Johncock.

iracecars2 karma

Your first Indy 500 win, what was going through your mind during that long caution. Also what was your first thought when you realized that Andretti was having mechanical failure and you were about to take the lead.

What do you think can further be done to improve the safety of Indycar racing. Where is the next step?

Do you have a track day car to go play around with on the weekends?

AlUnserJr4 karma

In my first Indy 500 win, I was hoping we had a fast enough car to stay in front of Scott Goodyear.

When I was about to take the lead over Andretti my first thought was, “Yeah baby!”

I don’t know where the next step is, they have the soft wall technology and the HANS device on the drivers… The real safety is in how the drivers drive the cars. If they use their head and look out for each other they are going to be ok.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any track day cars lol.

newoldschool2 karma

Hey Al I have been following your career a while now but since it even predates my own life its been taking a while

First I would like to ask that which drivers seat across any series world wide would you like to have your name on

Secondly I would ask who do you feel I'm your own opinion was the most technically sound Racing driver ever to put on an overall in racing

Edit:lastly would you prefer turbo,supercharged or normally aspirated

AlUnserJr2 karma

The most technically sound racing driver when I was growing up was Alain Prost in Formula 1. And I prefer turbocharged. They made a t-shirt years ago that said, “I’d rather be blown than fuel injected any day!”

jlh2b2 karma

In your work as a driver coach, what do you have to work on the most?

AlUnserJr3 karma

My work with the team hasn’t been coaching the drivers as much as it has been helping the team by giving input from my past experiences. We’ll find out on race day!

kokopelli732 karma

Will you be purchasing and/or reading this? Did you have any collaboration or input with Jade when he was writing it?

AlUnserJr1 karma

I am lucky that I will have a signed book from Jade. Yes, we had a long interview about it - we talked for a couple hours.

HowDidThatFappen2 karma

[deleted]

AlUnserJr1 karma

Thanks for joining me on Reddit! Most of the personalities I’ve met have been real kind to me I can’t say I’ve met any real jerks.

the_masamune2 karma

Al, What was your first car, and what is your daily driver car now?!

AlUnserJr3 karma

My first car was a 1962 Ford Ranchero and I drive a Chevy Suburban today.

ctotzke2 karma

what's the story with Pulstar, do they really work?

AlUnserJr2 karma

I felt an immediate difference when I used the Pulstar plugs on my Suburban and I saw an improvement in my MPG. Yes, they do really work.

stereoslams2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA Al. What cars do you own and do you enjoy popular car shows like Top Gear?

AlUnserJr3 karma

The Unser Racing Museum has all my cars besides my Chevy Suburban. I do enjoy Top Gear quite a lot.

sf_frankie2 karma

Hey Al, as a kid from Albuquerque who grew up in Long Beach, I was always really excited when the Grand Prix came to town and I got to watch you race.

What's your favorite part about Albuquerque?

Also, red or green?

AlUnserJr3 karma

My favorite part of Albuquerque is the International Balloon Festival and the Tram. Also, I’m green!

theground21 karma

Hey Al! You were the favorite racing driver when I was a young kid in the 90s. My oldest memory I have is sitting in Thunder Valley at Mid-Ohio for the Miller 200 in 1996. I grew up around racing and watching the CART series. You guys were part of what led me to my own small racing career in karts and SCCA. Thank you for inspiring the current generation of American racers!

Now to my questions.

  1. You experienced the peak of American Open-wheel racing first hand, while also at the peak of your own career. What made that time special from a driver standpoint?

  2. Also, what was the mood around the paddock, from teams and drivers, after the split in 1996?

AlUnserJr3 karma

I'm very happy that we were able to inspire you, best of luck!

  1. It made it special to me because all the hard work and sacrifice we put in was rewarded.

  2. The only paddock I can comment on is the CART side of it, and it was very somber.

johnson42531 karma

Have you ever thought of getting into the ownership side of the business?

AlUnserJr2 karma

Yes, I have thought about it but it comes down to sponsorship. I would love to be an owner.