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General Forums => Real Racing => Topic started by: Chadley on 06/03/12, 12:22 AM

Title: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: Chadley on 06/03/12, 12:22 AM
Stopped by the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, NM today. Great place with first class displays of all kinds of racing machines, trophies, helmets, etc. When I decided to purchase a helmet signed by both Al Unser Sr. and Jr. the lady said just a minute and grabbed the phone. In a few minutes I found myself talking to Big Al.

He was one of the nicest celebrities I've ever met and I've met a lot. Very friendly and genuine. And not only did he pose for a picture, but with one of my all time favorite cars, the Johnny Lightning Special. I also happened to shoot this potential render scene while I was there.

What a great day topped off by crusing Route 66 with a bunch of low riders, rat rods and restored classics.


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Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: BNS Racing on 06/03/12, 03:49 PM
Super Kool!!

Ya, the Unsers area really nice family!!  They used to come up her to Colorado Springs and run the Pikes Peak Hill Climb for many years.  "Ma Unser" used to host a Chili dinner Downtown during the PPHC festivities.  Man, she made GREAT bowl of chili!!
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: Chadley on 06/03/12, 07:17 PM
Yep, saw a lot of video on the Pikes Peak race and several cars in the museum. I'll be headed up Pikes Peak on Thursday, but taking the Cog Railway. I don't have a clue how my PT Cruiser would handle the altitude and I'm too lazy to find out. Plus I'm chicken to drive that road at a normal speed, let alone race it.
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: BNS Racing on 06/03/12, 08:56 PM
Yep, saw a lot of video on the Pikes Peak race and several cars in the museum. I'll be headed up Pikes Peak on Thursday, but taking the Cog Railway. I don't have a clue how my PT Cruiser would handle the altitude and I'm too lazy to find out. Plus I'm chicken to drive that road at a normal speed, let alone race it.

Don't know how the road is now, I have not been up it since they paved it.  Although my aunt came out here in the 60's and burned the brakes out of her Chrysler coming down the mountain.  It is pretty rough on vehicles.....
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: Robert Vining on 06/03/12, 10:53 PM
Man that's a great story Chad, it's really nice that he took the time to come out and talk with you. Even cooler that you got the shot with him and your favorite car. Nice render BG too!
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: Chadley on 06/04/12, 08:48 AM
Yeah, it was a lot of fun. We chatted for 15-20 minutes about his career, about the Johnny Lightning sponsorship that he hated at first but later loved it, and about his recovery from knee surgery and our road trip. What a great guy.

Even without Al, the museum was a highlight of the trip. Really cool racing history there and presented in beautiful displays unlike some car museums I've seen. You'll notice that the cars are not roped off. They ask you not to touch them, but you can get as close as you want.
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: BNS Racing on 06/04/12, 06:54 PM
Hey man, do they have Bobby's number 92 Sprint Car there??  That is what he ran up the mountain for many years. 
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: Chadley on 06/05/12, 08:40 AM
To tell you the truth, I don't remember. This is the only Pikes Peak car I took a photo of, but there were 3-4 others on display.

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Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: skot71 on 06/05/12, 01:15 PM
Incredible!!  That Johnny Lightning car has always been one of my favorites too.  I have a car carrier modeled after it that you can put real Johnny Lightning cars in.  Probably made in '71 or so.
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: swingeasy on 07/31/12, 07:37 PM
Wow Chad, what an incredible story, that must have made your day.  I have a couple of stories I could tell but yours tops all of mine.  Thanks for sharing your story.
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: Steve Wright on 08/21/12, 09:33 PM
Wow Chandley I know what you mean.  I got a chance to travel and race with Sammy Sessions back in the 70's on Snowmobiles and become a team mate with him and then we lost him while racing with him at Alexandria Minnesota during a Sno Pro race on December 17th 1977.  We used to talk about all the USAC Sprint car racing he did and the Indy 500 races he ran.  I used to go and watch him race in all of his Supermodified races.  Also when I was a kid I used to watch him race against Mario Andretti and AJ Foyt and Al and Bobby Unser on ABC Wide World of Sports on Saturdays in Sprint Car races from Kokamo Indiana and never realized that I would someday be traveling with him and working on his sleds.  So I know what you mean to have met Al Unser and get a chance to talk to him.  I used to get a chance to talk to Gordy Johncock allot also as he used to live in Hastings Michigan not far from my home and come into our pits and spend time with us back in our Mini Champ days. 
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: Chadley on 08/22/12, 06:46 AM
Hey that's cool that you brought up Gordy. I've never met him, but my parents are from that part of Michigan and knew him some in his dirt track days. Apparently they were good friends with one of his mechanics. So we always pulled for Gordy during the 500.

Where are you at in Michigan? I was born in Charlotte, but moved to South Dakota when I was 5. You probably are in the area where Scott Brayton was a local too, right? I met Scotty about the time he was at the height of his career, which we all know was much too short.
Title: Re: Got to meet Big Al Unser today
Post by: skot71 on 10/17/12, 08:37 AM
Slammin' Sammy Sessions!!  Saw him race at Winchester and have been to the Memorial race they have for him there a few times.  Great driver.