Hendricks County, Indiana Booking Photo

Two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. arrested for OWI

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INDIANAPOLIS – Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, Jr. was booked into jail overnight in Hendricks County, Indiana, charged with OWI (Operating While Intoxicated). He remains incarcerated awaiting bond.

Unser is an executive consultant with Harding Steinbrenner Racing and has struggled with alcohol issues throughout his life.

This is Unser’s fourth alcohol-related arrest. In 2002, he was arrested after an alcohol-involved fight with his then-girlfriend. He also has previous drunk driving arrests in 2007 and 2011.

Unser has taken many attempts to remain sober. He regularly speaks about his struggles with alcoholism, including just a few weeks ago with students at Hope Academy in Indianapolis. He has admitted drinking was a demon he faced, and he hopes others will learn from his mistakes.

Unser won the Indianapolis 500 in 1992 with Galles Racing and 1994 with Team Penske.

He was vital in helping Harding Steinbrenner Racing turn into a competitive NTT IndyCar Series team, and was one of the first members hired on the team by founder and owner Mike Harding.

The team that features 19-year-old driver Colton Herta, who starts fifth in Sunday’s 103rd Indianapolis 500, issued a statement  on Monday.

“The entire Harding Steinbrenner Racing organization is saddened to learn of Al Unser Jr’s arrest on an OWI charge,” the statement said. “Alcoholism is a disease and a continuing battle for those struggling with it. At this time, we do support Al in any way that he needs. All additional questions should be directed to Al’s legal counsel, James H. Voyles.”

 

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”