Franchitti visits America’s Cup champions (VIDEO)

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We’re still a week out from the IZOD IndyCar Series returning to action for the GoPro Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway (Next Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), but Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti dropped by the San Francisco Bay Area early for a special visit with defending America’s Cup champions Oracle Team USA.

Franchitti, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, definitely appreciates speed in all forms, and from the looks of the video above, was quite impressed with Oracle’s state-of-the-art racing boats – calling them “IndyCars on water.”

As for Oracle, they’re currently awaiting the outcome of the best-of-13 Louis Vuitton Cup, which is being contested between Emirates Team New Zealand and Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge. The LVC winner will move on to face Oracle for yachting’s biggest prize in September.

This weekend, NBCSN will have coverage of the first four races of the LVC Final between Emirates and Luna Rossa. Races 1 and 2 will air tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. ET, followed by Races 3 and 4 on Sunday, again at 6 p.m. ET.

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.