#204, New Book: The Checkered Past of Al Unser Jr.

James Raia

Al Unser Jr., born into one of motorsports’ most prominent racing families, won the Indianapolis 500 twice and two IndyCar Championships. But he was also troubled.

Unser abused alcohol and drugs and it destroyed a marriage. Friendships ended and he was arrested multiple times for drunken driving and domestic violence.

Unser’s struggles and his winding road in recovery is the subject of the new book, “A Checkered Past.”

Al Unser Jr.: A Story To Tell

The race car driver, recently re-married, tells his story to author veteran motorsports author Jade Gurss.

Gurss is our guest on this episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast

Al Unser Jr., tells his story to veteran automotive writer Jade Gurss in the new book, "A Checkered Past."
Al Unser Jr., tells his story to veteran automotive writer Jade Gurss in the new book, “A Checkered Past.”

Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia discuss with the author the difficulties of writing the book.

“It was very challenging,” says Gurss. “I had just come off finishing a book with John Andretti in the final months of life. Sadly, John dies of colon cancer. When I was contacted about doing Al’s story, he was very upfront. He said, ‘I am going to be open; I am going to be honest and I am going to tell the truth.”

“I knew that it was going to be a challenge to write something that obviously had very, very tough issues and very, very tough stories about what he had gone through battling with drugs and alcohol.”

Al Unser Jr.: ‘Not So Heroic’

A two-time New York Times best-selling author, Gurss’ latest book is his sixth, and it’s now available on Amazon.com from Octane Press. A native of Topeka, Kansas, Gurss resides in the Charlotte, NC area.

“I give Al full credit for being so open and willing to talk about things that don’t paint him in such a heroic light,” says Gurss. “A lot of my previous books had a much more positive attitude, I guess, for a lack of a better term. And this one certainly has a sense of sadness.”

Gurss has been involved with a long list of motorsports sponsors and racing categories. He has represented Anheuser-Busch, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda and many other major motorsports sponsors.

Al Unser Jr.: His Story Writer’s Sixth Book

In his work for Budweiser, Gurss was a publicist for Dale Earnhardt Jr. from 1999 through the end of the 2007 season. Gurss was also Director of Corporate Communication for Andretti Autosport and Andretti Sports Marketing. Hw co-authored “Driver No. 8” with Earnhardt Jr., which became Amazon’s top-selling sports book of 2002, and spent 17 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list.

Veteran motorsports author Jade Gurss has written his sixth book, "A Checkered Past."
Veteran motorsports author Jade Gurss has written his sixth book, “A Checkered Past.”

Please join on this episode as the author provides an inside look at his writing formula as well as his working relationship and friendship with Al Unser Jr.

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Article Last Updated: November 23, 2021.

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