Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr has been suspended from further duties on the IndyCar Series’ Race Control panel after he was arrested and charge with drink-driving offences just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Unser Jr – winner of the 1992 and 1994 Indy 500, as well as the 1990 and 1994 CART titles – was pulled over by the state’s finest at about 3am on Thursday morning, having allegedly been smelling of alcohol and drag-racing with another vehicle.
A roadside breath test registered a blood alcohol reading more than twice the state’s legal limit of 0.08. He was arrested and later released on his own recognizance.
The 49-year-old retired from competitive driving after the 2007 Indianapolis 500, and has recently been involved as the pilot of the two-seater IndyCar showcar (pictured) used to pilot celebrities and competition winners on thrill rides.
Along with race director Brian Barnhard and Tony Cotman, Unser Jr has also played a role in officiating several controversial calls by race control this season, including those at Toronto and New Hampshire.
A statement from IndyCar Series management confirmed that Unser Jr had been suspended from his role.
“Al Unser Jr. has been suspended indefinitely and relieved of his duties in Race Control, pending further investigation,” it reads.
“[We are] aware of the charges and will not be commenting at this time.”
It is not Unser Jr’s first run-in with the law over alcohol-related matters.
In 2002, Unser Jr managed to avoid formal charges laid by his then-girlfriend, who claimed he had assaulted her while drunk. He underwent alcohol abuse treatment after the incident.
In 2007, he pleaded no contest to a DUI charge after a car crash in Nevada, where he was found to be three times over the limit. As part of his plea bargain, Unser Jr lost his driving license for 90 days, received a $1,000 fine, and had to attend a drunken driving school, a victim-impact panel and undergo alcohol abuse evaluation.
[Image via IZOD IndyCar Series]