Al Unser Jr and Bobby Rahal have both been inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, as the fourth annual ceremony to recognise legends from the 35-year history of the city's annual street race commemorated two of the finest Long Beach exponents.
Bronze plaques were unveiled in the sidewalk alongside the course, as Unser Jr and Rahal joined Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney, among others, on the celebratory pavement. Unser Jr, a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, won six times on the streets of southern California, while 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Rahal recorded four second-place finishes there.
“A lot of people have performed admirably on these streets, going all the way back to 1975, but the two individuals we're recognising today performed especially significant feats, not only in Long Beach but throughout their history in motor racing. " Grand Prix Association CEO Jim Michaelian commented.
"Al Unser Jr, who is known to a lot of you as 'Little Al', has always been known to us as 'King of the Beach,' - and deservedly so as he's a six-time winner here.
"Bobby Rahal spent a number of years driving around the streets of Long Beach. He came here in 1978, in what was then the Formula Atlantic Series, graduated to CART and ran extremely well, not only here but the rest of the schedule too. He finished second here four times, so he really knew this course well. These two guys have both contributed to our success.”
While Unser remarked how it was 'truly an honour to be mentioned with the legends that have already been put into the sidewalk', Rahal reflected on a long love affair with the circuit.
"I first came here in 1977 and sat on the top of a motorhome and watched Mario pass Jody Scheckter with a couple laps to go," he recalled, "I loved coming to this race and came back in 1978 to run the Atlantic race.
"Even though I never won here, it was fundamental to my progress and success as a driver. Maybe the one great regret in my career, if I have one, is that I never won here, but I told [son] Graham he'll have to do that for the family!”