The Journal of Motor Racing History
LONG BEACH, CA -- In front of a capacity crowd of auto racing dignitaries, sanctioning group and series' representatives, corporate executives and champion race car drivers, three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club at the "RRDC Evening with Bobby Unser presented by Firestone" prior to the running of the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
It was the RRDC's seventh consecutive annual banquet honoring auto racing's most influential leaders. Previous honorees were Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman and Mario Andretti. Gurney and Jones were in the audience, along with Unser's brother Al, a four-time Indy 500 champion.
Opening the evening was a video tribute to Unser written and narrated by RRDC member Sam Posey. The video featured the often contentious yet humorous on-air disagreements between the two when both were commentators on ABC Wide World of Sports in the '80s and '90s.
On display in the courtyard during the cocktail reception sponsored by American Honda were the PC9B Penske that Unser drove to victory in the 1981 Indy 500, and the Gurney Eagle in which he dominated qualifying for the Indy 500 in 1972.
RRDC president and emcee Bobby Rahal recognized event sponsors Firestone, Honda, TUDOR, TranSystems and Trefethen Family Vineyards and interviewed Unser on his legendary achievements in the style of "Late Night with David Letterman." Robin Miller, noted journalist and TV reporter, joined the pair on stage in what could only be described as a hilarious and often irreverent recounting of Unser's achievements as well as his misadventures throughout his three-decade racing career.