Firestone returns as presenting sponsor of RRDC Evening with Bobby Unser
Three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser will be honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club at the “RRDC Evening with Bobby Unser presented by Firestone” in Long Beach, Calif., on Thursday, April 16, prior to the running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. This is the RRDC’s seventh consecutive annual banquet honoring auto racing’s most influential leaders.
Previous honorees were Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman and Mario Andretti. These “RRDC Evenings” are acknowledged as one of the highlights of the auto-racing social calendar, drawing fans and luminaries from all forms of motorsports.
The Firestone brand will return as presenting sponsor of the RRDC banquet for the sixth straight year.
“From the dirt tracks near Albuquerque, to Pike’s Peak, and onto the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Unser name is synonymous with open-wheel racing, and Firestone, in partnership with the Road Racing Drivers Club, is proud to honor Bobby this year,” said Lisa Boggs, Director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports.
The dinner’s proceeds will help support the RRDC’s young driver initiatives, including its groundbreaking SAFEISFAST.com program and the Team USA Scholarship, which the RRDC has backed since 1997.
Bobby Unser’s legend is well known: three-time Indy 500 winner; first to average over 180 and 190 mph at Indianapolis; 49 IndyCar poles with 35 wins; two USAC championships; one in the IROC series; and 13 Pike’s Peak top positions.
“Unser was the take-no-prisoners on-track charger who metamorphosed into a smooth-talking television raconteur,” said Bobby Rahal, RRDC president. “In his playful color commentary with Paul Page and Sam Posey on ABC Wide World of Sports, Bobby called it like it was and earned widespread admiration from the fans. The Unser family is a motorsports dynasty that has endured since the early 1900s. It’s a privilege for the RRDC to honor Bobby Unser.”
In 1915, Unsers Joe, Louis and Jerry Sr. summited Pikes Peak, a 14,000-foot Colorado mountain, in a motorcycle with a sidecar one year before there was a road. Joe was killed in 1929 prepping for the Indianapolis 500, but Louis went on to win Pike’s Peak nine times and ace mechanic Jerry Sr. begat four second-generation racers, including Bobby and Big Al.
“Bobby didn’t go racing because he was dreaming of the Indy 500,” added Rahal. “His only goal was to beat Uncle Louis’ Race to the Clouds record, which he did. As history demonstrates, that ambition soon progressed.”
“Receiving this honor from the RRDC is one big deal,” said Unser. “I’ve been retired from IndyCar racing for a long time and I appreciate this more than people can imagine.
“When I was young,” he continued, “we had maybe hundreds of young drivers. Today we have thousands, and they don’t have a way to get to the top of motor racing, to being good, to being famous, to being able to make a living driving race cars. The RRDC is helping the young guys to get there.”
The RRDC Evening with Bobby Unser presented by Firestone will be held on Thursday, April 16, at the Hilton Hotel, 701 West Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, Calif., with cocktails at 6 p.m., and dinner at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $200 per person if purchased in advance, and space is limited. Sponsor packages are also available. This event is expected to sell out quickly. All are welcome and early reservations are recommended. Please contact Jeremy Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Firestone Racing:
The Firestone brand has appeared in world-class motorsports events across the globe since its first documented victory in the inaugural Indianapolis 500-Mile Race® in 1911. Since 2002, Firestone has served as the Official Tire of the Verizon IndyCar Series® and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race®, which has been won by a Firestone-equipped driver 65 times in its 98-year history.
About the RRDC:
The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 as a way to give champion drivers a say in their sport, particularly in the areas of safety, and has evolved to serve the future of road racing by mentoring new drivers on both amateur and professional levels. The Club’s membership includes leading industry professionals, race officials and motorsports journalists, in addition to prominent racing names.
In 2011, the RRDC launched a free on-line training seminar – www.SAFEisFAST.com – featuring more than 30 RRDC members and other industry experts in high-quality videos covering subjects from physical and mental preparation to driving techniques, driver safety to car setup and sponsorship. The videos are updated regularly. Each week, a professional from the world of motor racing answers readers’ questions on the site in a feature called “Ask a Pro.”
Bobby Rahal is President, John Fergus is Vice President/Treasurer, and Tom Davey is Secretary.
The RRDC presents three annual awards: the Phil Hill Award, the Mark Donohue Award, and the Bob Akin Award, and supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990.
Membership in the RRDC is by invitation only. Additional information on the organization may be found at www.rrdc.org.