INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — This week marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most memorable moments ever at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
With just a few hundred yards remaining in the 1992 Indianapolis 500, race leader Al Unser Jr. was challenged by a slingshot pass from second-place Scott Goodyear. Unser held Goodyear off and won the race by just 0.043 seconds–the closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history–and became the first second-generation driver to win the race.
In the winner’s circle, a very emotional “Little Al” declared, “Well, you don’t know what Indy means!” The words cemented him as a fan favorite forever, despite the dramatic swings of his life in more recent years.
Unser discusses those moments–the highs and the lows–in a recently-published book, “Al Unser: A Checkered Past”. He says putting the book together with writer Jade Gurss was an emotional process.
“As Jade and I were going through it, there were several times there that I’m talking with Jade and I gotta stop because I got too emotional and I couldn’t go further,” Unser said. “It’s just pure honesty. Some of the sections are raw, you know, but it’s the truth.”
Unser says it was important to show readers that he and the members of his famous racing family are just regular people.
“With the family, we were on pedestals. But, we’re human beings, and so we go through life with the same trials and tribulations as anybody, any family does,” Unser said. “I wanted to share that we’re human, we have human issues.”
Unser also shares with readers his struggles with substance abuse and mental health, including a time in 2012 when he was considering suicide.
“I was turning 50 and I was utterly alone. There was there was nobody there. And, so, that year was extremely tough. But we made it through it with the help of psychiatrists and therapists and just sharing the truth,” Unser said. “And, you know, I asked for help. I got it. It was a long process. It was a long road.”
The two-time Indianapolis 500 champion says he still loves going to the track, be it in Indianapolis or somewhere else.
“It helps me to get out there and talk with the drivers, talk with the crews, talk with the teams, talk with the fans,” Unser said. “They’ve actually been my biggest support in the whole thing.”
Unser’s book is available online and in bookstores.