The Canadian Press (Ca), April 19, 2009
Little Al - Again
Al Unser Jr. lived up to his old Long Beach nickname: "King of the Beach."
The retired two-time Indianapolis 500 winner came from the rear of the pack and made a four-wide pass on a late restart to win Saturday's Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race - his eighth win on the seaside street circuit.
Unser, whose 47th birthday is Sunday, won events in the old CART series six times and also won the Pro-Celebrity event once before - in 1985.
This time, Unser, whose last race was the 2007 Indy 500, took the lead with two laps remaining in the 10-lap event and easily held off NASCAR's reigning truck series champion Johnny Benson in the race featuring identically prepared Toyota Scions. Former race winner and local Toyota dealer Tom Rudnai, another pro, was third, followed by the celebrity winner, actor Keanu Reeves.
"That was just cool," Reeves said, grinning. "There was a crash and I went past some cars and, all of a sudden, I'm the winner."
Unser, now a full-time IRL official, impressed all the celebrities with his coaching and personality.
"He is just an incredibly nice guy and couldn't have been more helpful," Reeves said. "He tells you what to do and how to do it, then he smiles while he's killing you on the track. He's like a Jedi Master."