Columbus Blue Jackets’ James Wisniewski, Jared Boll named Mid-Ohio grand marshals

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Two NHL players with the Columbus Blue Jackets will serve as Grand Marshals for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, taking place August 1-3, and Verizon IndyCar Series driver and Ohio-native Graham Rahal’s two favorite charities will benefit as a result.

Blue Jackets Jared Boll (background, No. 40) and James Wisniewski (foreground, No. 21) will share Grand Marshal duties as the Verizon IndyCar Series takes to the track at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for its 14th of 18 season stops during the 2014 season. Boll and Wisniewski will perform the standard Grand Marshal duties that include giving the famous “drivers, start your engines” command to start the afternoon race on Sunday, August 3.

“It’s great to have Jared and James serve as our grand marshals for this year’s event,” said Craig Rust, President of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “The Blue Jackets had a great season, this past year, and both players were instrumental in helping the team claim their second playoff spot in franchise history. We’re looking forward to welcoming them to the track this weekend.”

In addition to their track duties, the two hockey stars will also help their friend Graham Rahal with fundraising for his Graham Rahal Foundation (GRF), which benefits two charities, Alex’s Lemonade Stand and the Serious Fun Network.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand’s mission is “to raise money and awareness of childhood cancer causes, primarily into new treatments and cures; to encourage and empower others, especially children to get involved and make a difference for children with cancer.” It is present in 32 states and Canada.

The Serious Fun Network was created in 1988 by Hollywood heartthrob and Ohio-native Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Hud and Cool Hand Luke). His creative idea was to imagine a place where kids with serious illnesses could have the chance to, as he said, “kick back and raise a little hell.” A camp was born and soon became a global movement.

During the Honda Indy 200, one of Serious Fun Network’s local camps, Flying Horse Farm, will have one of their families trackside on race day to visit with Graham and the Blue Jackets, who are also official supporters of Flying Horse Farm. As well, Flying Horse Farm will have a booth set up at Mid-Ohio to sell t-shirts in support of the Graham Rahal Foundation and to disseminate information about the farm.

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.