Tired Of Retirement
March 21, 2006 | 12:46 P.M. EST
The two-time Champ Car Champion will come out of retirement to compete for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in this May’s Indianapolis 500. He will be driving the No. 31 Honda Dallara and joined by teammate Buddy Lazier, marking the first time former winners of the 500 will be on the same team.
"I’m doing this because I love racing. I’ve been doing this since I was nine years old and I missed it incredibly. I am doing this for me and to get the love back."
Unser Jr., the son of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, will attempt to repeat the feat his father achieved in 1987 of winning the race in a "one and done" type program.
"I feel that we have a great opportunity to kind of do a magical thing that my dad did back in 1987. (What he did) proves that it can happen, that’s all that that proves. We don’t have unforeseen miracles or anything like that, we are going to have to work for it. It’s a dream, but dreams come true, but you do have to work hard."
Along with being a two-time winner at Indianapolis, he is also sixth all-time for laps completed at the track with 2867, equaling just over 7167 miles. In addition to his exploits in open wheel racing, he has also won two IROC Championships as well as being on two 24 Hour of Daytona race winning teams.
Unser, who will be 44 when the green flag drops at Indianapolis, cited being "tired of being retired" as his main reason for returning to the world of competitive racing.
"As time went on and I was watching the races more and more, it’s in my blood. I love racing and now I am making an effort to come back and we’ve made it possible
"The itch for me and missing the racing started quite a while ago. It got to a point where we had to scratch it."
Along with his itch, Unser also cited the switch by the series to all Honda engines in 2006 as another factor that led to his return.
He joins drivers such as Michael Andretti (who retired in 2003) and Eddie Cheever (who left the IRL in 2002 but is committed to racing in the series for four races this season) that have come out of retirement to take part in IndyCar’s crown jewel event.
"The Indy 500 has always had different age groups, from the young to the old. It’s going to be a strong competitive race just as it always has been and always will be."