Two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. returning to the Brickyard for vintage race

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Back in February, Indianapolis Motor Speedway confirmed that it would play host to a vintage race that would feature everything from Indy 500 and Formula One challengers to NASCAR stock cars.

Now, a major figure in “500” lore is suiting up to take part.

Al Unser Jr., who won the “500” in 1992 and 1994, will race in an “Indy Legends Pro-Am” feature that will be part of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s Brickyard Invitational weekend on June 6-8 at the Speedway.

The 40-minute Pro-Am itself will take place on June 8 at the Speedway’s newly reconfigured road course.

Several other “500” veterans will join Unser in the feature, including nine-time Indy starter Lyn St. James, Indy Racing League stalwart Mark Dismore, and Willy T. Ribbs, the first African-American driver to ever qualify for the “500.”

The Pro-Am will be contested with Chevrolet Corvettes, Chevrolet Camaros, and Ford Mustangs that are from 1967-1972 and have an engine displacement limit of 355 cubic inches.

The “500” vets will be paired with amateur drivers, with each taking a 20-minute stint. Five minutes will be allowed for driver changes.

“I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to really racing again at Indy,” said ‘Little Al’ in a statement. “Vintage racing is emerging on a whole new level as a wonderful sport and it’s the real deal when you are going up against the likes of Lyn, Willy T. and Diz. I can’t wait to see the fans – they’re the greatest in the world.”

“It just doesn’t get any better for vintage racing than to have a superstar Hall of Fame driver like Al Unser Jr. race in an SVRA race,” said SVRA president/CEO Tony Parella. “I am overwhelmed by the interest of Indy race fans as well as the drivers. We will be making some additional exciting announcements soon.”

In addition to the road course, the Speedway’s famous oval will be used for exhibition runs by several groups of cars, including some of the 1950s-era roadsters that have endured as a symbol of the race.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.