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Unser Jr, Rahal join ranks of Long Beach greats


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!”


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Al Unser Jr will be honoured at the 2009 Long Beach Grand Prix   [pic credit: IRL/Garrett]
Graham Rahal celebrates victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway   (image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens)
Ed Jones - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Graham Rahal sits in his Honda machine on pit lane during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Graham Rahal drive their machines across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, and Graham Rahal at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Graham Rahal, and James Hinchcliffe bring their machines across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Sage Karam walks pit lane prior to his qualification attempt for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway -- Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media
Graham Rahal leads a group through the Turn 2 Keyhole turn during the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal and his father, Bobby, celebrate in Victory Circle following their win in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal sprays the champagne in Victory Lane following his victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal begins the celebration as he wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Marco Andretti, and Graham Rahal barrel into Turn 1 during practice for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal flashes across the start/finish line during practice for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at The Milwaukee Mile (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, and Graham Rahal go three-wide going into Turn 1 during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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