Tracy, Fernandez inducted into Long Beach Walk of Fame

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A pair of Champ Car’s most memorable competitors took their place among racing royalty Thursday, as Paul Tracy and Adrian Fernandez were inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame.

Tracy claimed four victories at the Beach during his driving career, which ties him for second with Mario Andretti on the all-time wins list at the circuit (Al Unser Jr. leads with six). One of those victories had him and Fernandez finish first and second respectively in 2003 — and helped propel him toward that year’s series title.

“My first race in an Indy car was [at Long Beach] in 1991 with Dale Coyne and my first win was here,” Tracy said. “I was walking across the bridge and said to myself, ‘Man, where did all the time go?’ I still feel as young as ever. I want to thank all the great teams I’ve driven for, all the teammates, all the competitors that have spurred me on and the conflict that has spurred me on.”

Fernandez never won in 11 Champ Car starts at Long Beach, but nonetheless scored an American Le Mans Series P2 class win there in 2009 with fellow Mexican racer Luis Diaz. He too made his open-wheel debut (1993, with Galles Racing) at this track, and is credited as a major catalyst in increasing the Grand Prix of Long Beach’s presence amongst the Hispanic/Latino community.

“I’m humbled to accept this special gift,” said Fernandez, who earned 11 career wins (eight in Champ Car, three in IRL/IndyCar) and now works as manager for McLaren young gun Sergio Perez. “As a driver, you put forth all this effort for more than three decades and it’s been a fantastic ride. Long Beach has always been a fantastic race and a ‘home’ track. I remember coming here and seeing so many Mexican fans. It’s always been the jewel of Indy car street races.”

Al Unser Jr. to race Pikes Peak Hill Climb for first time in 29 years

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Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is coming out of retirement to race again.

Unser Jr., who turns 56 on April 19, will compete in the 96th Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 24. It will be the first time Unser has raced at Pikes Peak in 29 years, since the 1989 event.

Unser won the Hill Climb and was named “King of the Mountain” in the 1983 event.

Unser said in 2007 that he was retiring from racing and had no plans to race in the future. However, he has taken part since then in some selected vintage racing events.

Speaking of vintage cars, Unser is slated to drive a 1936 Chevrolet Sedan in this year’s Hill Climb, according to race organizers.

He’ll compete with a number of luminaries including eight-time Hill Climb winner Paul Dallenbach; Layne Schranz, who will be competing in his 25th “Race to the Clouds”; 23-time champion Clint Vahsholtz; 25-time Hill Climb competitor David Schmidt II and three-time Climb winner Spencer Steele.

Unser recently returned to IndyCar racing as a consultant with Harding Racing, which is beginning its first full season in the series with Gabby Chaves behind the wheel.