Drinking and Driving

Posted by Iannucci | 5/15/2007 | 3 comments »
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As many of you know, there isn’t much love around here for drivers who happen to tip back a few too many before getting behind the wheel of any vehicle – no matter what that driver may or may not have accomplished on a race track. Sure a DUI is a mistake anyone can make, but if you are a professional race car driver you should seriously make a concerted effort to avoid this particular citation.

Speeding, that’s understandable. Bar fight, maybe once or twice. But driving while impaired should be taboo, especially when some drivers are sponsored by alcoholic beverages. As a driver you don’t just represent yourself but also your team and your sport. Don’t send the wrong message and don’t mess with our sport by being a drunken fool.

Driving at Indy should be a privilege and not a right – even if your name is Foyt or Unser – and being cited for a DUI should mean safeguards are in place to verify that if a driver is never ever even suspected of driving in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

There is no personal grudge here towards Al Unser Jr or Anthony Foyt IV, because I hope they never have any substance-related legal issues ever again. On the contrary, I’m thinking about the other guys they will be competing against, which is why it is totally insane to think that Al Unser Jr has NEVER been tested for drugs or alcohol before a race.

Take it away Bob Kravitz:

Incredibly, Unser has never, ever been subjected to an Indy Racing League drug and alcohol test. He was tested by his former boss, Roger Penske, during a time in the late 1990s when Unser's excesses were common knowledge. But there was no IRL test after the 2002 incident. And there was none after his most recent run-in with the law, which occurred in January.

After Sunday's qualifying, a day in which Unser was bumped from the bubble and forced to re-qualify next weekend, race steward Brian Barnhart was asked, why hasn't Unser been tested?

"How do you know he hasn't?" he responded.

Barnhart was told Unser had said he had never been tested. (MORE)
This doesn’t need to be a story, folks. A little testing would solve this problem right about now and keep the sauce in the stands and off the track. That way we can cheer or boo whomever with a clear conscience and let the other racing stories come to the forefront.


  1. Anonymous // May 15, 2007 3:15 PM  

    HIPAA very much limits what Brian can (could?) say. I'll leave it at that.

  2. Iannucci // May 15, 2007 3:26 PM  

    As someone who works for a health care company, I clearly understand that Barnhart can not specifically say "we tested so and so and his/her result came back as positive/negative." However, there is nothing preventing the league from instituting a regular policy of testing all participants.

    HIPAA issues come into play when related to identifiable personal information and specific test results. If league officials say "we test everyone before a race" then from what I can tell there is no violation.

    (However, I do have problems distinguishing between the numbers 11 and 13, so maybe I'm not the best person to trust on these subjects.)

    The bottom line is we don't need chemically altered drivers, be they drunk, stoned or blood boosting their way to a Tour de France type scandal.

  3. Anonymous // May 15, 2007 4:43 PM  

    Props to Kravitz for taking a stand here...if the IRL is truly being lax on the testing, they are putting the drivers in danger. That being said, Unser has always kept himself clean and sober to drive a race car -- these are off-track incidents.

    Props to Little Al for being open and blunt about his problems. Too bad it isn't going to matter unless he BEATS them.